Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis
We examine the role of relationship-based resource allocations during the approval process of secondary equity offerings (SEOs) in the Chinese capital market. In this unique regulatory setting, SEO-seeking firms must have their applications approved by an Issuance Examination Committee (IEC) of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), a hybrid template between government-directed and market-directed models. We identify guanxi-based relationships as cases in which the partner of an intermediary professional firm (e.g., auditing or law) employed by the SEO applicant also serves on secondment as a full-time IEC member. Our results show that these guanxi-based relationships significantly increase the likelihood of SEO approvals, particularly for suspect SEO applicants with abnormal levels of earnings management, related-party transactions, and inter-company loans. More importantly, we find that guanxi-influenced SEO firms have significantly poorer performance in the post-SEO period, which indicates that it results in inefficient resource allocations. In addition, we show that these quid pro quo arrangements benefit IEC-member intermediaries through higher market shares and professional fee revenues. Overall, our evidence suggests that relationship-based resource allocations lead to negative spillover effects that impose social welfare losses.
We examine whether social ties between engagement auditors and audit committee members shape audit outcomes. Although these social ties can facilitate information transfer and help auditors alleviate management pressure to waive correction of detected misstatements, cozy interpersonal relations can undermine auditors' monitoring of the financial reporting process. We measure social ties by alma mater connections, professor-student bonding, and employment affiliation and audit quality by the propensity to render modified audit opinions, financial reporting irregularities, and firm valuation. Our evidence implies that social ties between engagement auditors and audit committee members impair audit quality. In additional results, we generally find that this relation is concentrated where social ties are more salient, or firm governance is relatively poor and agency conflicts are more severe. Implying reciprocity stemming from social networks, we also report some suggestive evidence that audit fees are higher in the presence of social ties between an engagement auditor and the audit committee. Collectively, our analysis lends support to the narrative that the negative implications--namely, worse audit quality and higher audit fees--of these social ties may outweigh the benefits.
Journal of Business Ethics
We analyze whether audit partners suffered damage to their professional reputations with the demise of Zhongtianqin (ZTQ), formerly the largest audit firm in China, after an audit failure enabled a major client, Yinguangxia (YGX), to fraudulently exaggerate its earnings in a high-profile scandal resembling the Andersen–Enron events in the US. This involves evaluating whether the reputational damage sustained by partners implicated in the scandal spreads to other partners in the same audit firm. We isolate whether impaired reputation impedes partners who were not complicit in the ZTQ–YGX events from attracting new clients or keeping existing ones. Our evidence implies that the market shares of these partners fell after ZTQ’s collapse, supporting that guiltless partners’ reputations were tarnished. We also find that these partners are less likely to be employed by reputable audit firms. The clients of these partners tend to have lower earnings response coefficients, implying that investors downgrade the perceived quality of their audits. Moreover, compared to a matched sample, the former ZTQ partners tend to charge lower audit fees after the firm’s collapse. Finally, we exploit the unique structure of ZTQ to provide evidence consistent with the prediction that the former partners from the branch that handled the YGX audits experienced worse damage to their reputations. In a setting with minimal auditor discipline stemming from civil litigation, our results lend support to the intuition that partners’ reputation concerns motivate them to protect audit quality by closely monitoring other partners in the firm.
We provide evidence from China that access to loans positively affects the probability that a firm will invest in innovation. However, the positive effect of private debt on innovation investment is significantly moderated by political instability. The cost of political instability on innovation is less severe when the entrepreneur has political connections to party leaders. Furthermore, we show that political connections increase the probability that an entrepreneur has access to direct governmental support for innovation investment. These findings are more. pronounced for technology intensive industries.
Journal of Business Ethics
In this paper, we examine the information content of insider transactions in China and analyze how ownership structures shape market reaction to these transactions. We find that the cumulative abnormal return (CAR) to insider purchases is a convex function of the percentage of shares owned by the largest shareholder. Further, the CAR to insider purchases is lower when the largest shareholder is government-related, or when the control rights of the largest shareholder exceed its cash flow rights. We also find that the market reaction to insider purchases is more positive for firms audited by Big4 auditors. However, we do not find a significant relationship between an ownership structure and the market reaction to insider sales. Our results are remarkably robust to alternative model specifications, corporate insider identities, and recent corporate news releases on price-sensitive events. Finally, we show that market reaction to insider purchases is larger for firms with less severe expropriations, as captured by the use of other receivables.
We use a dataset comprising the appointments of commercial bankers as board of directors at Chinese listed firms and find that financially distressed firms are more likely to recruit a commercial banker as a director of the board. The presence of a banker on the board increases access to bank loans, yet many investors react negatively to announcements of such appointments. We also find that such appointments are typically followed by a drop in the appointing firm's operating performance, and an increase in rent-seeking activities. This suggests that bank directors cannot strengthen corporate governance. Most financial resources are expropriated by corporate insiders.