The effect of the number of bank relationships on firm leverage: high-risk shift and the curse of mainstream banks
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Purpose Firms prefer to have more than one bank relationship to secure the flow of funds for their operations, particularly in bank-based economies. On the other hand, banks lean toward expanding their customer base with firms already in the credit market. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of the number of bank relationships as a firm-specific determinant of capital structure and to discuss its impact on the banking sector. Design/methodology/approach A two-step system generalized method of the moments estimation method is used in this study. The sample comprises 213 Turkish non-financial, publicly listed firms with a positive shareholder's value for the 2012-2017 period. Findings The findings show that the number of bank relationships increases the leverage of sample firms while the concentration in the banking sector decreases it. These rather intriguing findings are attributed to an under-the-counter credit policy that causes a high-risk shift and a curse of mainstream banks. Once the mainstream banks allocated credit to the firm, its credibility is consumed by the following banks, which is implied by the significantly negative relationship between bank concentration and firm leverage. This problem is defined as the mainstream bank curse in the study. Originality/value The previous literature focuses on the effects of the number of bank relationships on firm profitability, cost of debt and shareholder wealth. However, its impact on the capital structure has not yet been systematically investigated. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first study to critically analyze the effect of the number of bank relationships on the capital structure. The findings will be of immense benefit to the banking sector and the regulatory bodies.