Three Essays on Empirical Corporate Finance

  • Seyed Hossein Khatami

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis investigates three topics in empirical corporate finance. In the first essay, the focus is on the role of financial constraints in the market for corporate control. In the second and third essays, we explore the effect of personal connections at board and executive levels on corporate credit rating and initial public offering (IPO) underpricing respectively.In the first essay, using a large sample of US acquisitions made between 1985 and 2013, we study the effect of financial constraints on acquisition gains and acquisition likelihood. Our findings show that financial constraints of target companies significantly increase acquisition premiums and abnormal returns for both parties. Our results further show that the presence of financial constraints in the target is one of the most important determinants of a takeover bid. This supports the idea that acquisitions may improve the ability of financially constrained companies to access capital through a better reallocation of resources within segments of the same company (e.g., internal capital market) or through better access to external markets. This would eventually benefit bidders too, as new capital would be invested in valuable growth opportunities that otherwise would expire unexercised.In the second essay, using a large sample of US public debt issues we show that personal connections between directors of issuing companies and rating agencies result in higher credit ratings. We estimate the average effect to be about one notch. The results are robust to several alternative tests including additional controls for managerial traits, placebo tests and propensity score matching. Moreover, our tests on default rates and bond yields do not appear to reflect a favourable treatment by the rating agency. Rather, they suggest that personal connections act as a mechanism to reduce asymmetric information between the rating agency and the issuer. In the final essay, using a large sample of IPOs in the U.S. we show that interpersonal connections between directors and top executives in issuers and underwriting banks result in significantly lower levels of IPO underpricing. We also examine the issuers' long-term stock returns following their IPOs. Our results indicate that the connected companies' long-term returns are not significantly different from the non-connected companies. This suggests that underwriters set lower levels of underpricing for the connected companies not to treat them favourably, but due to better flow of and stronger reliance on soft information and lower risk exposure.
Date of Award1 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMaria Marchica (Supervisor) & Roberto Mura (Supervisor)


  • credit rating, personal connections
  • IPO, underpricing, personal connections
  • financial constraints, M&A, acquisition likelihood

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