The financing of multinational subsidiaries

  • Robert Suban

Student thesis: Phd


In this thesis, we investigate how multinational (MNC) parents can use the way they finance their subsidiary firms in order to constrain subsidiary management. In the first essay, we develop a theoretical framework in which we consider a number of alternative decisions related to the financing of MNC subsidiary firms. We show that, from the MNC parent's perspective, the optimal choice is to delegate the monitoring of the subsidiary to host-country banks and finance the subsidiary using short-term and short-term external debt. This arrangement will guarantee that the MNC subsidiary management exerts an optimal amount of effort and abides by the objectives set by the MNC parent. In the second essay, we propose and test four hypotheses addressing how MNC parents can use short-term and short-term external debt to constrain the rent-seeking behaviour of subsidiary management. One set of hypotheses analyses the use of short-term debt. The second set of hypotheses investigates the use of short-term external debt. Moreover, we investigate these two hypotheses in two different settings to measure: (i) the subsidiary effect by comparing between UK domestic and UK subsidiary firms and (ii) the location effect by comparing UK and US subsidiary firms. We find support for our hypotheses, namely that UK subsidiaries have more short-term debt and more short-term external debt as compared to equivalent UK domestic firms, and that US subsidiaries have more short-term debt and less short-term external debt compared to equivalent UK subsidiaries. Our results are both statistically and economically significant and are robust to the use of a matched sample approach to test our hypotheses. The third essay investigates the relationship between the bargaining power of MNC subsidiary firms and the way these firms are financed by analysing the source and the maturity of financing arrangements. We argue that the financing arrangements used to finance the subsidiary are linked to its ability to engage in rent-seeking behaviour and the latter depends on the amount of bargaining power that the subsidiary possesses. We use four different measures of bargaining power, namely age, size, presence of foreign sales and percentage of foreign sales. Using data relating to UK and US MNC subsidiaries between 2001 and 2010, we test two sets of hypotheses linking the bargaining power of the MNC subsidiary firms with the use of short-term debt and the use of external short-term debt. Our results provide strong support for our short-term debt hypotheses while support for our external debt hypotheses is more limited. The results are also economically significant when using the percentage of foreign sales as a bargaining power proxy. We also notice that the use of debt to constrain subsidiary management behaviour appears to differ across UK and US MNC subsidiary firms.
Date of Award1 Aug 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMohammad Yamin (Supervisor) & Michael Bowe (Supervisor)


  • Parental Control
  • Subsidiary Bargaining Power
  • Parent-Subsidiary Relationships
  • Subsidiary Leverage
  • Multinational Corporations
  • Financial Policy
  • Subsidiary Financing
  • Hard Budget Constraint
  • Financial Contracting
  • Subsidiary Control

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