Year of Publication

2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Business and Economics

Department

Finance and Quantitative Methods

First Advisor

Dr. Bradford Jordan

Second Advisor

Dr. Mark Liu

Abstract

This dissertation consists of two essays on corporate finance. The first essay investigates the relationship between dual-class shares and firm’s risk-taking. While costs associated with dual-class shares are widely documented, the benefits are seldom studied in the literature. We attempt to fill this gap and find that dual-class firms tend to have fewer business segments, higher volatilities in their cash flows, earnings, and investment opportunities compared to propensity-matched single-class firms. Business segments within a dual-class firm are also more positively correlated in their cash flows, earnings, or investment opportunities than those in single-class firms. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that dual-class shares can potentially shield insiders from short-term market pressure so they can focus on riskier projects to enhance long-term shareholder value. To provide a possible channel through which dual-class firms can increase corporate risk-taking, we examine one of the most important corporate investment decisions: mergers and acquisitions (M&As). Dual-class firms are more likely to engage in M&As, especially nondiversifying M&As. Corporate risks increase following M&As, and the increase is more for dual-class firms than for single-class firms.

The second essay shows how CEO skills affect operating performance using a sample of 109 spin-offs from 1994 to 2009. Since a variety of studies indicate that firms in need of external financing are more likely to engage in spin-offs, we hypothesize that parent firms prefer to appoint financial experts as CEOs at spun-off units around spin-off transactions. We find that appointing spun-off unit CEOs with financial expertise brings significant and positive wealth effects. Furthermore, the CEOs with financial expertise significantly improve firms’ access to capital markets and subsequent operating performance. Conversely, we do not observe positive wealth effects at the spin-off announcement or improved operating performance following spin-offs when parent firms decide to assign non-financial experts as spun-off unit CEOs.

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