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Corporate Finance Essay

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Corporate Finance Essay Most corporate financing decisions in practice reduce to a choice between debt and equity. The finance manager wishing to fund a new project, but reluctant to cut dividends or to make a rights issue, which leads to the decision of borrowing options. The issue with regards to shareholder objectives being met by the management in making financing decisions has come to become a major issue of recent times. This relates to understanding the concept of the agency problem.

It deals with the separation of ownership and control of an organisation within a financial context. The financial manager can raise long-term funds internally, from the company’s cash flow, or externally, via the capital market, the market for funds of more than a year to maturity. This exists to channel finance from persons and organisations with temporary cash surpluses to those with, or expecting to have, cash deficits, i.

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e. the shareholders. The agency problem on a firm’s capital structure decisions

Potential conflict arises where ownership is separated from management. The ownership of larger companies is widely spread, while the day-to-day control of an organisation’s business interests rests in the hands of a few managers who usually have a relatively small proportion of the total shares issued. This can give rise to the problem of managerial incentives. Examples of this include pursuing more perquisites (splendid offices and company cars, etc. ) and adopting low-risk survival strategies and satisficing behaviour.

This conflict has been explored by Jensen and Meckling (1976), who developed a theory of the firm under agency arrangements. Managers are, in effect, agents for the shareholders and are required to act in their best interest. However, they have operational control of the business and the shareholders receive little information on whether the managers are acting in their best interest. According to Jensen and Meckling (1976), if a wholly-owned firm is managed by the owner, he will make operating decisions that maximize his utility.

These decisions will involve not only the benefits he derives from pecuniary returns but also the utility generated by various non-pecuniary aspects of his entrepreneurial activities such as the physical appointments of the office, the attractiveness of the office staff, the level of employee discipline, the kind and amount of charitable contributions, personal relations (friendship, respect and so) with employees, a larger than optimal computer to play with, or purchase of production inputs from friends.

A company can be viewed as simply a set of contracts, the most important of which is the contract between the firm and its shareholders. This contract describes the principal-agent relationship, where the shareholders are the principals and the management team the agents. An efficient agency contract allows full delegation of decision-making authority over use of invested capital to management without the risk of that authority being abused.

However, left to themselves, managers cannot be expected to act in the shareholders’ best interests, but require appropriate incentives and controls to do so. Agency costs are the difference between the return expected from an efficient agency contract and the actual return, given that managers may act more in their own interests than the interests of shareholders. The capital structure of a firm is divided between debt capital and equity. Debt capital is the use of borrowed funds by the management of a firm to carry out its financial decisions.

Most companies borrow money on a long-term basis by issuing loan stocks. The terms of the loan will specify the amount of the loan, rate of interest and date of payment, etc. Equity capital on the other hand is the long-term finance of a firm which is provided by the shareholders of a company. By purchasing a portion of, or shares in, a company, almost anyone can become a shareholder with some degree of control over the company. Ordinary share capital is the main source of new money from shareholders.

For an established business, the majority of equity funds will normally be internally generated from successful trading. Any profits remaining after deducting operating costs, interest payments, taxation, and dividend are reinvested in the business and regarded as part of the equity capital. The finance manager will monitor the long-term financial structure by examining the relationship between loan capital, where interest and loan repayments are contractually obligatory, and ordinary share capital, where dividend payment is at the discretion of directors.

This is known as gearing. There are two basic types of gearing, they are capital gearing which indicates the proportion of debt capital in the firm’s overall capital structure; and income gearing indicates the extent to which the company’s income is pre-empted by prior interest charges. Both are indicators of financial gearing. Now, the advantages of debt capital centre on its relative cost. Debt capital is usually cheaper than equity because, the pre-tax rate of interest is invariably lower than the return required by shareholders.

This is due to the legal position of lenders who have a prior claim on the distribution of the company’s income and who in liquidation precede ordinary shareholders in the queue for the settlement of claims. Debt is usually secured on the firm’s assets, which can be sold to pay off lenders in the event of default, i. e. failure to pay interest and capital according to the pre-agreed schedule; debt interest can also be set against profit for tax purposes; the administrative and issuing costs are normally lower, e. . underwriters are not always required, although legal fees are usually involved. Jenson and Meckling (1976) argue that if the manager owns only 95 percent of the stock, he will expend resources to the point where the marginal utility derived from a dollar’s expenditure of the firm’s resources to the point where the marginal utility derived from a dollar’s expenditure of the firm’s resources on such items equals the marginal utility of an additional 95 cents in general purchasing power (i. e. his share of the wealth reduction) and not one dollar. Such activities, on his part, can be limited (but probably not eliminated) by the expenditure of resources on monitoring activities by the outside stockholders. They also add that prospective minority shareholders will realize that the owner-manager’s interests will diverge somewhat from theirs; hence the price which they will pay for shares will reflect the monitoring costs and the effect of the divergence between the manager’s interest and theirs.

As the owner-managers fraction of the equity falls, his fractional claim on the outcomes falls and this will tend to encourage him to appropriate larger amounts of the corporate resources in the form of perquisites. This also makes it desirable for the minority shareholders to expend more resources in monitoring his behaviour. Thus, the wealth costs to the owner of obtaining additional cash in the equity markets rise as his fractional ownership falls. Read more: http://www. businessteacher. org. uk/free-finance-essays/corporate-finance-essay. php#ixzz2OdRy7DzZ

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