Family Firms and the Agency Cost of Debt: The role of soft information during a crisis
Title: Family Firms and the Agency Cost of Debt: The role of soft information during a crisis
Series/Report no.: EUI ECO; 2012/22
In this paper we study how access to bank lending during the recent financial crisis differed between family and non-family firms. Our theoretical prediction is that the presence of a family block-holder in the company attenuated the agency conflict in the borrower-lender relation, because of the higher non-monetary cost of default entailed in this type of corporate ownership structure. Because this information is to a large extent soft, we further investigate the interaction between the family firm status and the screening technology adopted by banks. Using highly detailed data referred to Italy, we exploit the change in the credit allocation following Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy. We find that family firms experienced a contraction in granted credit lower than non-family firms. Results are robust to ex-ante differences between the two types of firms and to bank-specific shocks. In line with our prior, banks that increased the role of soft information in their lending practices reallocated credit towards family firms.
Subject: Family Firms; Financial crisis; Relationship lending; Soft information; Credit supply; C81; D22; E44; G21; G32
Type of Access: openAccess