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Can investors restrict managerial behavior in distressed firms?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date12/2013
JournalJournal of Corporate Finance
Volume23
Number of pages18
Pages222-239
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In this article, we show that only distressed firms not identified as distressed by creditors are able to transfer wealth from creditors to shareholders. Using the number of years to future bankruptcy as a proxy for genuine distress and measures based on observable firm characteristics as proxies for perceived distress, genuinely distressed firms incorrectly perceived as healthy cut payouts to shareholders more slowly and invest more aggressively as uncertainty increases than correctly identified distressed firms. Consistent with the idea that incorrectly identified distressed firms actively hide their troubles, we show that they tend to follow more aggressive accounting policies and often resort to earnings misstatements. We also show that they are often not restricted by covenants and can borrow further debt capital at affordable rates, suggesting that a lack of monitoring by creditors allows them to transfer wealth to shareholders.