Do Banks Price Litigation Risk in Debt Contracting? Evidence from Class Action Lawsuits
Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Forthcoming
54 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2015 Last revised: 9 Oct 2015
Date Written: August 10, 2015
Class action lawsuits can be detrimental to debtholders because they deteriorate defendant firms’ financial position and lower these firms’ value. This study examines whether banks price their borrowers’ litigation risk in debt contracting. We find that banks charge 19% higher interest spreads on loans to lawsuit firms after litigation. In addition, banks monitor lawsuit firms more closely by using tighter non-price terms. The results are robust after correcting for possible endogeneity issues using the propensity score matching approach. We further find that the effects of lawsuit filing are more pronounced for firms with weaker corporate governance. Following a lawsuit in the industry, banks also perceive an increased likelihood of litigation for industry peer firms and adjust price and non-price terms accordingly. Finally, we find that the magnitude of the lawsuit filing effect is greater for firms with lower ex ante litigation risk. Taken as a whole, our findings suggest that banks, as informed stakeholders, perceive litigation risk to be detrimental and price this risk in debt contracting.
Keywords: debt contracting, litigation risk, bank loans, cost of debt, non-price terms
JEL Classification: G21, G32, K22, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation