Capital Structure and Political Connections: Evidence from GCC Banks and the Financial Crisis



McMillan D & Ahmed F (2021) Capital Structure and Political Connections: Evidence from GCC Banks and the Financial Crisis. International Journal of Emerging Markets.

Purpose This paper investigates the effect of political connections on the capital structure of banks before and after the financial crisis in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. Design/methodology/approach This paper employs the natural experiment that the financial crisis offers and uses a difference-in-differences model to investigate the effect of political connections on capital structure. Capital structure is measured by the total debt to total assets ratio. Control variables include bank size, growth, profitability, coverage ratio and volatility. The research sample includes all the banks in the GCC from 2005 to 2016. Findings We find that political connections negatively affect banks capital structure decisions. Our results contradict the claim that politically connected firms tend to sustain higher debt due to government privilege and a lower chance of bankruptcy. Additionally, the results show that after the financial crisis, politically connected banks de-lever more compared to non-connected counterparts. This could suggest that the degree of support received by connected banks changes or that they exploit their retained earnings for financing (individual country results, however, suggest that leverage increases in Qatar). Originality/value This paper provides several contributions. First, GCC countries present an interesting and important area in which to study the relation between political connections and capital structure as it represents a mix of newer markets that seek to attract investors and foreign capital. Second, to the best of our knowledge, the present study is the first to examine the effect of the political connection and capital structure in GCC region where royal families play a significant role, especially for banks. Third, our paper is the first to link connections with leverage after the financial crisis in the banking sector. Moreover, our paper is the first to investigate this phenomenon in the GCC countries using manually collected primary data.

GCC banks; political connection; Capital structure

Output Status: Forthcoming/Available Online

International Journal of Emerging Markets

StatusIn Press
Publication date online15/09/2021
Date accepted by journal24/08/2021

People (1)


Professor David McMillan

Professor David McMillan

Professor in Finance, Accounting & Finance