Relationship Lending and Firms’ Leverage: Empirical Evidence in Europe


  • The authors are grateful to two anonymous referees and John Doukas (the Editor) for their helpful suggestions. Furthermore we would like to thank Stefania Cosci and Valentina Meliciani for many comments and discussions.


Using a novel measure of relationship lending based on the kind of information banks use to assess borrowers, we investigate the role of relationship lending in firms’ capital structure. Using a unique dataset of European manufacturing firms, we measure relationship lending based on three dimensions (closeness, soft information, exclusivity) and relate them to firms’ leverage. Overall our results support the hypothesis that supply factors matter. We find that the actual use of soft information increases leverage and only firms without soft information-intensive relationships increase their leverage through multiple relationships. However, the effect of relationship lending on leverage varies across countries.