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Underwriter Competition and Bargaining Power in the Corporate Bond Market

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We develop a new measure of underwriter bargaining power and a novel empirical approach, based on underwriters’ comparative ability to place bonds. When an issuer has few “outside options” to take her bond to the market, the underwriter enjoys a stronger bargaining power over her. The key feature of our approach is that bargaining power varies for a given underwriter at a given point in time across different issuers, allowing us to separate the effects of bargaining power from those of reputation and certification with a fixed effects strategy. Using our measure, we document that powerful underwriters are able to extract rents at the expense of bond issuers. For issues with the highest underwriter bargaining power, fees and bond offering yields increase by a combined cost of USD 1.5 million, or about 7% of the average costs for the issuer. We rule out alternative mechanisms based on issuer-underwriter “loyalty”. Our findings suggest that lack of competition increases underwriter bargaining power, resulting in material costs for corporate bond issuers.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
PublisherCentER, Center for Economic Research
Number of pages47
Volume2018-034
StatePublished - 11 Sep 2018

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper
Volume2018-034

    Research areas

  • Bargaining power, corporate bonds, underwriting

Documents

  • 2018-034

    Submitted manuscript, 1 MB, PDF-document

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