The Agency Problems Embedded in Firm's Equity Investment

Journal of Business Ethics 79 (1/2):151 - 166 (2008)
We find that agency problems are embedded in firm's excess and abnormal equity investments that are mainly dictated by controlling shareholder's motives and ethical choices manifested in ownership and board structure. The excess equity investment is gauged with respect to industry average. The abnormal equity investment is specifically referred to the number of nominal investment companies that are fully controlled by the controlling owners while subject to little governance. Our empirical evidences of 345 Taiwanese non-financial listed firms show that firm's excess and abnormal equity investments are negatively correlated with controlling shareholder's cash flow rights while are positively correlated with the control-cash flow deviation, and board affiliation. The results are supportive of the positive incentive hypothesis and the negative entrenchment hypothesis put forth by La Porta et al. (2002, Journal of Finance 57, 1147-1171) and Claessen et al. (2002, Journal of Finance 57, 2741-2742). The negative relation between equity investment and firm's value further supports the agency postulation that corporate excess and abnormal equity investments represent a leeway for controlling shareholder to exploit wealth of minority shareholders. This study potentially contributes to the literature of business ethics by portraying an empirically testable linkage from controlling owner's ethical choices to his actions and therefore firm's value
Keywords corporate governance  ethical choices  corporate equity investment  positive incentive hypothesis  negative entrenchment hypothesis
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