Article | Financial Management

Agency Costs, Mispricing, and Ownership Structure

by Sergey Chernenko, C. Fritz Foley and Robin Greenwood


Standard theories of corporate ownership assume that because markets are efficient, insiders ultimately bear all agency costs that they create and therefore have a strong incentive to minimize conflicts of interest with outside investors. We argue that if equity is overvalued, however, mispricing offsets agency costs and can induce a controlling shareholder to list equity. Higher valuations may support listings associated with greater agency costs. We test the predictions that follow from this idea on a sample of publicly listed subsidiaries in Japan. Subsidiaries in which the parent sells a larger stake and subsidiaries with greater scope for expropriation by the parent firm are more overpriced at listing, and minority shareholders fare poorly after listing as mispricing corrects. Parent firms often repurchase subsidiaries at large discounts to valuations at the time of listing and experience positive abnormal returns when repurchases are announced.

Keywords: Business and Shareholder Relations; Ownership; Conflict of Interests; Investment; Valuation;


Chernenko, Sergey, C. Fritz Foley, and Robin Greenwood. "Agency Costs, Mispricing, and Ownership Structure." Financial Management 41, no. 4 (Winter 2012): 885–914.