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.
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.
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.
In some cultures vast personal wealth is lauded whereas in others, it is viewed with suspicion and contempt. In recent years, a super rich elite of business people has emerged in China, and, given the country's cultural and socialist past, we believe that people are more likely to react negatively to reports of conspicuous wealth. To test our arguments, we examine the reactions to and consequences of China's entrepreneurs being included on the Hurun Rich List. We find negative consequences for stock market traded firms controlled by the Rich List entrepreneurs: stock prices decline, government subsidies are reduced, and the named entrepreneurs are more likely to be investigated. These effects are strongest in rent-seeking industries and are mitigated by philanthropy.
State-controlled listed firms in China receive preferential treatment when borrowing from commercial banks; in contrast, private controlled firms rely on informal finance and on trade credit. We argue for and find evidence that private firms located in higher social trust regions use more trade credit from suppliers, extend more trade credit to customers, and collect receivables and pay payables more quickly. These findings are enhanced for firms located in provinces with weak protection of property rights. Our results are robust to different measures of social trust, legal environment, and endogeneity. Overall, our results show that social trust helps private firms overcome institutional difficulties in financing their activities.
This paper examines how ownership type and institutional environment affect firm taxation. Using a sample of Chinese-listed firms from 1999 to 2006, we find that private firms enjoy a lower effective tax rate than local state-owned enterprises. In addition, the preferential taxation of private firms is associated with local government incentives to promote local economic growth. We find that private firms located in regions with a lower level of privatization receive preferential tax treatment. Our results also suggest that decentralization and interjurisdictional competition lead to financial interdependence between local governments and private firms.
This paper investigates the effect of financial deepening on the relationship between trade credit and cash holdings among Chinese listed firms. We first document an asymmetric effect of trade payables and receivables on cash holdings, in that firms hold an additional $0.71 of cash for every $1 of credit payable but use $1 of receivables as a substitute for only $0.15 of cash. We then find that firms in regions with higher levels of financial deepening hold less cash for payables while substituting more receivables for cash. A more highly developed financial sector helps firms to better use trade credit as a short-term financing instrument. Finally, we find that the ratio at which receivables are substituted for cash increased following the implementation of the new receivables pledge policy in 2007, which allowed firms to use receivables as security for loans. This policy event represents an exogenous shock that mitigates the endogeneity concern.
In China’s state-dominated financial system, many firms, especially non-state-owned or private organizations, face serious restrictions in gaining access to bank and equity market financing. This kind of highly discriminatory financial repression policy has induced some unique post-takeover financing activities, which are consistent with the desire to acquire firms in order to capitalize on their privileges in getting access to external finance. Specifically, takeovers by acquirers facing more serious financing obstacles (private acquirers) tend to show less salient symptoms of tunneling and display patterns of more efficient investment than takeovers by acquirers suffering less serious financing obstacles (state acquirers). Market reaction analysis suggests that these takeovers pose different implications for acquirers’ shareholder value, with takeovers by private acquirers being viewed as value enhancing but takeovers by state acquirers being viewed as value reducing.