Essays on financial institutions
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In this dissertation, I explore the ability of financial institutions to impact firm behavior. The first essay examines whether relationships between venture capital owners (VCs) and investment banking underwriters affect a firm’s ability to issue equity. I find that past interactions between VC owners and underwriters in the form of previously underwritten initial public offerings (IPOs) significantly increase the likelihood that an IPO firm chooses a specific underwriter. In terms of how VCs and underwriters associate with each other, older VCs partner with more reputable underwriters. Despite paying higher fees, issuing firms benefit from stronger VC-Underwriter relationships through upward offer price revisions and higher valuations. VC-Underwriter relationships also predict underwriter choice in subsequent equity offerings. This essay provides empirical evidence that suggests VCs use their relationships with investment banks to enable their portfolio firms access to high quality underwriters and better underwriting services. The second essay investigates whether credit rating concerns affect capital investment decisions. Using ex-ante measures of proximity to a rating change, I find that firms that are near a credit rating downgrade spend significantly less on capital expenditures relative to those not near a rating change. The response of firms to credit rating upgrades is not symmetric: firms do not seem to adopt significantly different investment policies when near an upgrade. This effect of lowering investment when near a credit downgrade is stronger for firms that face financial constraints, experience greater adverse selection and are more active in debt markets. Related to reductions in investment, firms near rating changes also spend less on research and development expenses and pay lower dividends. My findings are consistent with firms conserving financial resources to prevent adverse credit rating changes that could increase their cost of capital.