45 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2007 Last revised: 11 Nov 2010
Date Written: January 1, 2009
Financial crises are often accompanied by an outflow of foreign portfolio investment and an inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI). We provide an agency-theoretic framework that explains this phenomenon. During crises, agency problems affecting domestic firms are exacerbated, and, in turn, external financing constrained. Transfer of control in the form of direct ownership of failed firms' assets by alternate users can circumvent agency problems, but during crises, efficient owners (e.g. other domestic firms) face similar financing constraints. The result is a transfer of ownership to foreign firms, including inefficient ones, at fire-sale prices. Such fire-sale FDI is associated with a flipping of acquired firms back to domestic owners once the crisis abates. These features of fire-sale FDI find empirical support.
Keywords: Fire sales, Capital flight, FDI flows, Financial crises, Foreign takeovers
JEL Classification: G21, G28, G32, E58, D61
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation