Target Capital Structure and Adjustment Speed in Asia

Authors

  • André Getzmann,

    1. School of Finance, University of St. Gallen and Swiss Institute of Banking and Finance
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  • Sebastian Lang,

    1. School of Finance, University of St. Gallen and Swiss Institute of Banking and Finance
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  • Klaus Spremann

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Finance, University of St. Gallen and Swiss Institute of Banking and Finance
    • Corresponding author: Klaus Spremann, University of St. Gallen, School of Finance, Bodanstrasse 6, 9000 St. Gallen, and Swiss Institute of Banking and Finance, Rosenbergstrasse 52, 9000 St. Gallen, Switzerland. Tel: +41-(0)-76-230-3900, Fax: +41-(0)-71-224-7088, email: klaus.spremann@unisg.ch.

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  • Acknowledgement: We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their constructive suggestions.

Abstract

Studies on the capital structure of Asian corporations are rare, and most of those studies support different explanations of financing decisions compared to the ones accepted for the USA and Europe. We test relationships that are typical of the Tradeoff Theory and the Pecking Order Theory, and analyze the speed of adjustment toward target capital structures for 1239 companies with capitalizations of more than US$1 billion listed on 11 Asian stock exchanges and belonging to eight industrial sectors. Our results are based on generalized method of moments (GMM) estimations for the determinants of capital structures and system-GMM estimations for the speed of adjustment, and robustness is checked using book leverage and market leverage on the basis of ordinary least squares estimations and two-stage least squares estimations. We contribute to the literature by finding strong evidence that companies in Asia pursue target capital structures, as predicted by the Tradeoff Theory. Only in one respect does the Pecking Order Theory demonstrate superior explanatory power. We further show that the convergence to target capital structures is consistent with international evidence, estimated at an annual adjustment speed of 24–45% of original leverage levels. Finally, our comparison among eight industries shows that the capital structure choice in Asia is influenced by fixed effects.

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