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Political Connections and the Cost of Equity Capital. Narjess Boubakri (HEC Montreal) Omrane Guedhami (University of South Carolina) Dev Mishra (University of Saskatchewan) Walid Saffar (University of Southern Indiana) EFMA Symposium April 10, 2009. Presentation Outline. Introduction

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Political Connections and the Cost of Equity Capital


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political connections and the cost of equity capital

Political Connections and the Cost of Equity Capital

Narjess Boubakri (HEC Montreal)

Omrane Guedhami (University of South Carolina)

Dev Mishra (University of Saskatchewan)

Walid Saffar (University of Southern Indiana)

EFMA Symposium

April 10, 2009

presentation outline
Presentation Outline
  • Introduction
  • Objectives and Contributions
  • Research Design
  • Data and Variables
  • Summary of the Results
  • Conclusion
introduction
Introduction
  • Anecdotal evidence indicates that politically connected firms in different countries around the world benefit from their relationships with politicians;
  • In Indonesia, relatives ofex-President Suharto, especially his sons, enjoyed easy access to cut-rate credit and import licenses;
  • In Malaysia, investors interpreted the imposition of capital controls following the 1997 Asian financial crisis as preferential treatment for firms that were politically linked to Prime Minister Mahathir;
introduction1
Introduction
  • This evidence is empirically supported by recent studies showing thatthe politicalconnection phenomenon isprevalent in both developed and developing countries;
  • Faccio et al. (2006) finds that politically connected firms are more likely to be bailed out when faced withfinancial distress ascompared to their non-connected peers;
  • In Indonesia, Fisman (2001) finds a correlation between reports on Suharto’s state of health andthe value of the firms connected to his regime;
objectives and contributions
Objectives and Contributions
  • The objective of this study is to examine the net effects of political connections by focusing on the cost of equity of PCFs rather than on performance or value measures;
  • This approach allows us to determine the impact of political connections on the cost of capital, an important channel of influence on firm value;
  • Indeed, some political connections are a reflection of a firm’s agency problems and corporate governance;
  • Thus, our investigation reflects arguments that the costs of external finance are driven by the extent of firms’ agency and information problems and our use of the cost of equity as a test vehicle allows us to uncover the extent of such problems in PCFs.
objectives and contributions1
Objectives and Contributions
  • Moreover, a potential advantage of using the cost of equity rather than firm value, largely measured by Tobin’s Q, is that the former allows us to deal with the fact that Tobin’s Q is also a measure of the firm’s growth opportunities;
  • Our study is related to two different streams of academic research, namely the literature on political connections, and that on corporate governance and the expropriation of minority shareholders;
potential benefits of political connections
Potential Benefits of Political Connections
  • The literature suggests that “systematic exchanges of favors” between politicians and firms add value to PCFs (Chaney et al., 2008);
  • Government officials can influence the economic value of a corporation by awarding lucrative government contracts, imposing tariffs on competitors, or reducing regulatory requirements, to name a few (Goldman et al., 2006);
  • More generally, PCFs enjoy soft budget constraints and are not sensitive to market pressures or prevailing competition;
  • Also, these firms generally pay less taxes (Faccio, 2007), hence they benefit from lower operating costs;
  • Additional evidence on the soft budget constraints enjoyed by PCFs appears in Khwaja and Mian (2005) who illustrate the role of ex-politicians in providing government bank loans to politically connected Pakistani firms.
potential costs of political connections
Potential Costs of Political Connections
  • Leuz and Oberholzer-Gee (2006) suggest that politically connected Indonesian firms choose not to cross list on U.S. markets, to avoid the scrutiny and strict listing requirements imposed on foreign firms;
  • Chaney et al. (2008) show that PCFs report earnings of lower quality than their unconnected peers;
  • Evidence from the privatization literature suggests that when firms are politically connected, they underperform their unconnected newly privatized counterparts (Boubakri et al., 2008a);
  • Bertrand et al. (2007) find that profits in French firms managed by politically connected CEOs tend to decline as the fraction of their employment located in politically contested areas increases, due to higher wage bills.
hypothesis
Hypothesis
  • In light of this discussion on the potential benefits and costs of political connections, we derive our main testable hypothesis: If the benefits (costs) of political connections outweigh their costs (benefits), the cost of equity will be negatively (positively) related to the cost of equity of PCFs.
definition of political connection
Definition of political connection
  • A company is defined as politically connected if at least one of its largest shareholders or top officers is: (i) a member of parliament, (ii) a king, president or minister, or (iii) closely related to politicians or a political party as of 2001;
  • We also consider close relationships to be indirect political connections, as when heads of State or their relatives also serve as top officers of a company or hold large blocks of its shares;
  • Close relationships also include top officers who are known to be close friends with a king, a president, a minister or a member of parliament, as described in several journals (e.g., The Economist, Forbes and Fortune).
cost of equity estimates
Cost of Equity Estimates
  • We use the discount rate estimated following recent studies.
  • We follow Hail and Leuz (2006), and use four models to estimate our cost of equity capital.
  • The four models are Easton (2004 ES), Ohlson and Juettner-Nauroth (2005 OJ), Gebhardt, Lee and Swaminathan (2001 GLS), and Claus and Thomas (2001 CT).
  • Our final cost of equity estimate ‘K’ is the average of the cost of equity estimates of these four models.
conclusion
Conclusion
  • Prior academic research has shown that PCFs are prevalent around the world, regardless of a country’s level of economic development (Faccio, 2006);
  • The literature also argues that shareholders in PCFs gain from the close ties to politicians (e.g., Leuz and Oberholzer-Gee, 2006 for Indonesia; Johnson and Mitton, 2003 for Malaysia);
  • However, few studies have argued that government relationships could potentially be detrimental to shareholder value;
  • The objective of this study is to examine the net effects of political connections by focusing on the cost of equity of PCFs;
conclusion1
Conclusion
  • This approach allows us to determine the impact of political connections on the cost of capital, an important channel of influence on firm value;
  • Our results show that PCFs have a lower cost of equity capital than their non-connected peers;
  • These conclusions are robust to a battery of checks including alternative proxies for the dependent variable, selection bias concerns, as well as alternative control samples of non-connected comparable firms;
  • Our main conclusion is that because of the soft budget constraints generally enjoyed by these firms, and the assurance of corporate rescue in the event of financial crisis/distress, the benefits from being politically connected outweigh the costs leading investors to require a lower rate of return for investing in PCFs.