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Reports Year : 2009

Leverage in Pyramids: When Debt Leads to Higher Dividends


This paper explores the use of leverage in pyramids and its relationship to dividend policy. The use of leverage in holding companies widens the disparity between control rights and cash flow rights. We postulate that it also leads to more generous dividend payouts since dividends are needed to service debt in the holding companies. We analyze a comprehensive sample of French pyramidal structures. Consistent with our hypothesis, we find that dividend payouts increase in the disproportionality between control and cash flow rights that is explained by holding company debt. By contrast, disproportionality generated by holding company equity leads to lower payouts. Servicing debt in the holding companies of a pyramidal structure is the primary motive for dividends, as opposed to alternative explanations such as investments or dividend preferences. Finally, the combination of high leverage in holding companies and high dividends negatively affects firm value, consistent with the hypothesis of tunneling by dominant owners.
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Dates and versions

hal-00489925 , version 1 (07-06-2010)


  • HAL Id : hal-00489925 , version 1


Ulrich Hege, Gerard Mertens, Abe de Jong, Douglas V. de Jong. Leverage in Pyramids: When Debt Leads to Higher Dividends. 2009. ⟨hal-00489925⟩


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