CHAP_15_student - CHAPTER 15 CAPITAL STRUCTURE: LIMITS TO...

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CHAPTER 15 CAPITAL STRUCTURE: LIMITS TO THE USE OF DEBT Answers to Concept Questions 1. Direct costs are potential legal and administrative costs. These are the costs associated with the litigation arising from a liquidation or bankruptcy. These costs include lawyer’s fees, courtroom costs, and expert witness fees. Indirect costs include the following: 1) Impaired ability to conduct business. Firms may suffer a loss of sales due to a decrease in consumer confidence and loss of reliable supplies due to a lack of confidence by suppliers. 2) Incentive to take large risks. When faced with projects of different risk levels, managers acting in the stockholders’ interest have an incentive to undertake high-risk projects. Imagine a firm with only one project, which pays $100 in an expansion and $60 in a recession. If debt payments are $60, the stockholders receive $40 (= $100 – 60) in the expansion but nothing in the recession. The bondholders receive $60 for certain. Now, alternatively imagine that the project pays $110 in an expansion but $50 in a recession. Here, the stockholders receive $50 (= $110 – 60) in the expansion but nothing in the recession. The bondholders receive only $50 in the recession because there is no more money in the firm. That is, the firm simply declares bankruptcy, leaving the bondholders “holding the bag.” Thus, an increase in risk can benefit the stockholders. The key here is that the bondholders are hurt by risk, since the stockholders have limited liability. If the firm declares bankruptcy, the stockholders are not responsible for the bondholders’ shortfall. 3) Incentive to under-invest. If a company is near bankruptcy, stockholders may well be hurt if they contribute equity to a new project, even if the project has a positive NPV. The reason is that some (or all) of the cash flows will go to the bondholders. Suppose a real estate developer owns a building that is likely to go bankrupt, with the bondholders receiving the property and the developer receiving nothing. Should the developer take $1 million out of his own pocket to add a new wing to a building? Perhaps not, even if the new wing will generate cash flows with a present value greater than $1 million. Since the bondholders are likely to end up with the property anyway, why would the developer pay the additional $1 million and likely end up with nothing to show for it? 4) Milking the property. In the event of bankruptcy, bondholders have the first claim to the assets of the firm. When faced with a possible bankruptcy, the stockholders have strong incentives to vote for increased dividends or other distributions. This will ensure them of getting some of the assets of the firm before the bondholders can lay claim to them. 2.
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CHAP_15_student - CHAPTER 15 CAPITAL STRUCTURE: LIMITS TO...

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