The following post comes to us from Messod Daniel Beneish
, Professor of Accounting at Indiana University Bloomington; Cassandra Marshall
of the Department of Finance at the University of Richmond, and Jun Yang
of the Department of Finance at Indiana University Bloomington.
In our paper Why Do CEOs Survive Corporate Storms? Collusive Directors, Costly Replacement, and Legal Jeopardy, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, we consider new explanations for the puzzling result that a majority of misreporting CEOs retain their jobs. We extend the literature by investigating the role of directors’ both personal and reputational incentives in the CEO retention decision. Overall, our analysis improves our understanding of the CEO retention decision by 30 to 40% relative to a benchmark model based on the severity of the misreporting, the firm’s performance and risk characteristics, and traditional measures of the strength of corporate governance.
We show that two types of personal benefits make conventionally independent directors less likely to remove CEOs: loss avoidance on equity-contingent wealth and increased compensation. First, we find that in firms where independent directors emulate CEOs’ trading behavior and also engage in abnormal insider selling over the misreporting period, CEOs are 13.6% more likely to be retained. We view independent directors’ trading as suggestive of collusion because, like CEOs and other executive directors, they personally benefit by selling their equity at inflated prices during the period over which earnings are misreported. To the extent that the misreporting sustains the firm’s overvaluation, the fact that directors engage in abnormal selling suggests they have access to negative information about the firm that they do not reveal to shareholders. We posit that independent directors prefer not to attract attention to their own abnormal selling. Thus, even though dismissing the CEO could enhance shareholder value by restoring credibility, directors whose trading actions align with those of CEOs have weaker incentives to replace the CEO.
…continue reading: Why Do CEOs Survive Corporate Storms?