Capital Structure and Managerial Compensation: The Effects of Renumeration Seniority

R. Calcagno, L.D.R. Renneboog

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We show that the relative seniority of debt and managerial compensation has important implications on the design of remuneration contracts.Whereas the traditional literature assumes that debt is senior to remuneration, we show that this is frequently not the case according to bankruptcy regulation and as observed in practice.We theoretically show that including risky debt changes the incentive to provide the manager with stronger performance-related incentives ("contract substitution" effect).If managerial compensation has priority over the debt claims, higher leverage produces lower powerincentive schemes (lower bonuses) and a higher base salary.With junior compensation, we expect more emphasis on pay-for-performance incentives.The empirical findings are in line with the regime of remuneration seniority as the base salary is significantly higher and the performance bonus is lower in financially distressed firms.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
Number of pages33
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper


  • seniority of claims
  • remuneration contracts
  • financial distress
  • insolvency
  • leverage


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