The authors thank Bartow Jones and Gabe Bodhi for their analytical support, and Don Chew for patient editorial guidance.
A METHOD FOR ESTIMATING GLOBAL CORPORATE CAPITAL COSTS: THE CASE OF BESTFOODS
Article first published online: 6 APR 2005
Journal of Applied Corporate Finance
Volume 12, Issue 3, pages 80–90, Fall 1999
How to Cite
Pettit, J., Ferguson, M. and Gluck, R. (1999), A METHOD FOR ESTIMATING GLOBAL CORPORATE CAPITAL COSTS: THE CASE OF BESTFOODS. Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, 12: 80–90. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6622.1999.tb00033.x
- Issue published online: 6 APR 2005
- Article first published online: 6 APR 2005
The financial management practices of many multinational corporations are at odds with both financial theory and the strategic case for global expansion. Despite the weight of academic literature, many financial executives still cling to ad hoc rules of thumb that discourage value-enhancing global growth. In particular, they tend to require large risk premiums for making foreign investments while ignoring the diversification benefits of such investments for their shareholders.
This article presents a practical method for estimating the cost of capital for use by multinationals both in evaluating foreign investment opportunities and in measuring the ongoing performance of overseas business units. The method represents a kind of “hybrid” version of the global CAPM—one that attempts to reconcile some of corporate executives' concerns about the distinctive risks of foreign investment with the finance theorist's portfolio perspective and reliance on capital market information. More specifically, the framework uses information from capital markets to determine the appropriate risk premiums for currency and sovereign risks associated with each country in an MNC's portfolio. But, at the same time, these risk premiums are partly offset by taking account of any diversification benefits that foreign investment provides for the firm's shareholders.
The method is illustrated using the case of Bestfoods, a Fortune 200 company with extensive overseas operations that recently adopted the method. For the purpose of evaluating new projects, Bestfoods produces quarterly updates of its cost-of-capital estimates for each country in which it has (or expects to have) major operations. For evaluating the ongoing performance of each country business unit, the relevant cost of capital is calculated annually (at the beginning of each fiscal year).