Event risk covenants and shareholder wealth: Ethical implications of the "poison put" provision in bonds [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 22 (2):119 - 132 (1999)
Abstract
This paper examines the ethical implications of "poison put" provisions included in bond offerings. A number of firms are using event-risk protections in bond offerings in an effort to attract investors back into the bond market. One of the most common event-risk protections is a "poison put" provision, which allows the bondholder to "put" the bond back to the firm at par or at a premium under certain specified conditions, such as a takeover effort or a downgrading of the bond by rating agencies. While such a provision is obviously of value to the bondholders, there is a secondary effect that is not as obvious. Using such a provision helps to insure that boards of directors must put the interests of all of the stakeholders ahead of any personal interests of the board members, thus protecting the stakeholders. The use of event-risk protections helps to deter takeovers, induce bidders to negotiate with management in any takeover efforts, and avoid two-tier takeover offers. As a result, the "poison put" provisions have a positive impact on share values while simultaneously protecting the investments of bondholders. Such an impact makes the use of "poison put" provisions in bonds an ethical use of management power.
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