The Information Content of Bank Loan Covenants
Review of Financial Studies, Forthcoming
49 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2007 Last revised: 8 Mar 2010
Date Written: March 5, 2010
This paper examines the determinants of financial covenant thresholds in bank loan agreements and information conveyed through the selection of tight financial covenants. We find that riskier firms and firms with fewer investment opportunities select tighter financial covenants. We also find that selection of tight covenants is associated with improvements in the covenant variable and declines in investment spending and net debt issuance. We observe these changes also for borrowers that do not breach their covenants, suggesting that they are not simply the result of creditor influence conditional on a technical default. Furthermore, we find that violations of tightly set covenants have significantly less of an impact on the borrower’s investment spending and net debt issuance than violations of loosely set covenants. Overall, our results suggest that the selection of tight covenants conveys information concerning future changes in covenant variables and the outcome of covenant violations.
Keywords: bank lending, loan contracting, covenants, congruence
JEL Classification: G21, G32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation