Corporate Finance in Europe Confronting Theory with Practice
44 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2004
Date Written: March 15, 2004
In this paper, we present the results of an international survey among 313 CFOs on capital budgeting, cost of capital, capital structure, and corporate governance. We extend previous results of Graham and Harvey (2001) by broadening their sample internationally, by including corporate governance, and by applying multivariate regression analysis. We document interesting insights on how theoretical concepts are applied by professionals in the U.K., the Netherlands, Germany, and France and compare these results with the U.S. We discover compelling variations between large and small firms across all markets. While large firms frequently use present value techniques and the capital asset pricing model when assessing the financial feasibility of an investment opportunity, CFOs of small firms still rely on the payback criterion. Regarding debt policy we document more subtle disparities across firms and national samples. We also find substantial variation in corporate governance structures, which turn out to be more oriented at shareholder wealth in the Anglo-Saxon countries. Corporate finance practice appears to be influenced mostly by firm size, to a lesser extent by shareholder orientation, while national differences are weak at best.
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