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Intangible assets and capital structure

Steve C. Lim, Antonio J. Macias and Thomas Moeller

Journal of Banking & Finance, 2020, vol. 118, issue C

Abstract: A substantial and increasing proportion of corporate assets consists of intangible assets. Despite their growing importance, internally-generated intangible assets are largely absent from balance sheets and other corporate reports. Consequently, the empirical capital structure research has struggled to evaluate the effects of intangible assets on financial leverage. High valuation risk and poor collateralizability of some intangible assets — e.g. goodwill, may discourage debt financing. In contrast, identifiable intangible assets may support debt because they are separately identifiable, valuable, and potentially collateralizable, and are instrumental in generating cash flows. Utilizing a recent accounting rule change that allows us to observe granular market-based valuations of intangible assets, we find a strong positive relation between identifiable intangible assets and leverage. Overall, identifiable intangible assets support debt financing as much as tangible assets do, in particular in firms that lack abundant tangible assets.

Keywords: Capital structure; Financial leverage; Identifiable intangible assets; Purchase price allocation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: G32 G34 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jbankfin.2020.105873

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jbfina:v:118:y:2020:i:c:s0378426620301394