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The Turbulent Market of Modern Debt-overleveraged and Promoter-dominated Corporations

FR. Oswald A. J. Mascarenhas, S.J. (XLRI: Xavier Institute of Management, India)

Corporate Ethics for Turbulent Markets

ISBN: 978-1-78756-188-5, eISBN: 978-1-78756-187-8

Publication date: 30 October 2018


Executive Summary

Before the September–October 2008 Financial Crisis, investment banks were hooked on debt. In 2007, a year before its failure, Lehman Brothers held equity just 3.3% of its balance sheet (that is, its debt/equity ratio well exceeded 29); virtually all the rest was financed by borrowing. Leverage is an elixir that makes profits soar when times are good but magnifies losses when the economy sours. Currently in India, several companies have seen their balance sheet out of shape because of overleverage, but banks continue to be benevolent, often forced by political interventions (see Cases 6.1 and 6.2). Most of these business groups are nearly dead, with their equity almost wiped out. There is little chance they will survive but for their banker’s largesse. Ever-greening of loans is keeping them alive, but what could be the end game? For instance, just a year before economic liberalization in India, few enterprising men invested in the steel business. They borrowed monies from the banks and banks continued to finance their operations, and now they are realizing that the promoters cannot meet with their debt obligations. The banks, however, did not want to accept financial loss and hence commonly agreed to ease the payment obligations so that the loans remained good and not degenerate to NPAs. This is tantamount to refinancing to service your loans. But now the banks overwhelmed with accumulated NPAs are trying to sell debt. How do you legally, ethically, morally, and spiritually (LEMS) justify share-market concentration in the hands of very few promoter investors? What are their long-run unintended economic, legal, ethical, and moral consequences, and why? This chapter studies this market turbulence and the role of bankruptcy laws and court systems in bringing about some change in the debt-overleveraged corporations.


Mascarenhas, S.J., F.O.A.J. (2018), "The Turbulent Market of Modern Debt-overleveraged and Promoter-dominated Corporations", Corporate Ethics for Turbulent Markets (Corporate Ethics for Turbulent Markets), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 189-213.



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