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Does ownership structure affect the degree of corporate financial distress in China?

Dan Hu (Graduate School of Economics, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan)
Haiyan Zheng (School of Economics and Management, Shanghai Institute of Technology, Shanghai, China)

Journal of Accounting in Emerging Economies

ISSN: 2042-1168

Article publication date: 2 February 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the degree of corporate financial distress (DOFD) and relationship between ownership structure and the DOFD in China.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors estimate the DOFD across a sample of 378 Chinese-listed companies that got into financial distress between 2000 and 2008. The DOFD reflects long-term solvency capability, short-term liquidity capability, development capability, risk level, profitability capability, operating capacity, and cash flow capability. The authors analyze the relationship between ownership structure and the DOFD in these companies, using the panel data analysis method.

Findings

The authors find that a concentrated ownership structure is negatively related to the DOFD. Further, the results indicate that a state-owned status helps firms in decreasing their DOFD and that the separation of cash-flow rights and control rights is positively related to the DOFD. The authors also found that the Chinese special treatment (ST) system needs further improvement. The reason is that ST firms can be classified into “value” ST firms and “garbage” ST firms. They have different DOFD and change trend, so they should not be treated equally.

Originality/value

This paper find that Chinese ST system and previous research are not helpful for risk-seeking investor to distinguish and evaluate “value” ST firms and “garbage” ST firms. It is unfair to warn and punish this two kinds of firms equally, so ST system should be improved. The authors also suggest that risk-seeking investor can choose ST firms that have a concentrated ownership structure and are controlled by the state or local government. These findings are not observed in previous studies.

Keywords

Citation

Hu, D. and Zheng, H. (2015), "Does ownership structure affect the degree of corporate financial distress in China?", Journal of Accounting in Emerging Economies, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 35-50. https://doi.org/10.1108/JAEE-09-2011-0037

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited