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The effects of ownership structure on likelihood of financial distress: an empirical evidence

Shahab Udin (Department of Management Sciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan)
Muhammad Arshad Khan (Department of Management Sciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan)
Attiya Yasmin Javid (Department of Economics, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Islamabad, Pakistan)

Corporate Governance

ISSN: 1472-0701

Article publication date: 7 August 2017



The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of corporate governance proxies by ownership structure on the likelihood of firms’ financial distress for a sample of 146 Pakistani public-limited companies listed at the Karachi Stock Exchange over the period of 2003-2012.


The dynamic generalized method of moments (GMM) estimator and panel logistic regression (PLR) are used to determine the impact of corporate governance on the financial distress. The ownership structure is used as a determinant of corporate governance, while the Altman Z-score is utilized as an indicator of financial distress, as it measures financial distress inversely. The smaller the values of the Z-score, the higher will be the risk of financial distress.


The authors find insignificant impact of ownership structure on firms’ likelihood of financial distress based on the dynamic GMM method. However, the PLR results indicate that foreign shareholdings have a significant negative association with firms’ likelihood of financial distress, in the case of Pakistan. An evidence of a negative and insignificant relationship between institutional ownership and financial distress was observed, which indicates the passive role of institutional investors in Pakistan. The results also reveal a positive and significant relationship between insider’s ownership and likelihood of financial distress. This finding is consistent with the entrenchment hypothesis which predicts that insiders are more aligned with their self-interest than outside shareholders’ interest when their shareholding increases in the business. Furthermore, the results also reveal insignificant association between government shareholdings and the probability of financial distress. The reason could be the social welfare objective of the government entities rather than profit maximization.

Practical implications

The findings of this study provide more insight to corporate managers and investors about the association between the quality of corporate governance and the degree of financial distress, with respect to Pakistani firms. Furthermore, this study contributes to the existing literature by adding new evidence from developing countries like Pakistan which are helpful for regulatory bodies and policymakers in the formulation of long-term corporate governance strategies to manage the financial distress. It is well established that strengthening the quality of corporate governance practices enhances the efficiency of capital markets and reduces the probability of financial distress.


The study extends the body of existing literature on corporate governance and the likelihood of financial distress with reference to Pakistan. The results suggest that policymakers may pay special attention to the quality of corporate governance, specifically ownership structure, while predicting corporate financial distress.



Udin, S., Khan, M.A. and Javid, A.Y. (2017), "The effects of ownership structure on likelihood of financial distress: an empirical evidence", Corporate Governance, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 589-612.



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