Three essays in corporate finance

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This dissertation contains three essays in corporate finance. In the first essay, using the presence of business combination (BC) laws to proxy for the monitoring strength of the takeover market, we examine how an active takeover market affects the level and valuation of corporate cash holdings. After accounting for potential endogeneity of state incorporation, we find that firms incorporated in states without BC laws hold significantly more cash than those incorporated in states with BC laws. We also find that the value of cash holdings used by firms to defend themselves against unwanted takeovers in the presence of an active takeover market is not discounted by investors. Our findings suggest a substitution effect between legal antitakeover protection and firms' use of cash protection. However, there is no evidence that these cash holdings lead to value destruction. Firms may use corporate payouts to signal internal governance quality and avoid a market discount placed on cash holdings. In the second essay, using the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI), the industry price-cost margin, the number of firms within an industry, and the level of import penetration to gauge the intensity of product market competition, we find that the speed of capital structure adjustment for firms in competitive industries is significantly faster than for firms in non-competitive industries. Further analysis reveals that this effect is driven solely by the capital structure movements of over-levered firms. While over-levered firms in competitive industries face higher levels of investment needs relative to those in non-competitive industries, they are significantly less likely to use debt financing and to deliberately deviate from target. In the third essay, we find that cash has a negative impact on the future market share growth of the old firms, evidence that can better explain the unwillingness of such firms to hold precautionary cash as they face increasingly more volatile cash flows in an imperfect capital market. Furthermore, we show that the relational strength between cash and product market performance evolves in a way that reflects a changing composition of manufacturing firms which progressively tilts toward young firms.

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