We review the literature on the relationship between firm geographic location and corporate finance with an emphasis on corporate governance. We discuss the importance of geographic location within the context of four theoretical frameworks - agency theory of the firm, asymmetric information, market segmentation, and behavioral finance, and highlight some directions for future research.
We examine the evolution of insider ownership of IPO firms from 1970 to 2001 to understand how U.S. firms become widely held. A majority of these firms has insider ownership below 20% after 10 years. Stock market performance and liquidity play an extremely important role in ownership dynamics. Firms with stocks that are highly valued, are liquid, and have performed well experience large decreases in insider ownership and become widely held. Ownership also falls for low cash flow and high capital expenditures firms. Surprisingly, variables proxying for agency costs have limited success in explaining the evolution of insider ownership.
We document strong comovement in the stock returns of firms headquartered in the same geographic area. Moreover, stocks of companies that change their headquarters location experience a decrease in their comovement with stocks from the old location and an increase in their comovement with stocks from the new location. The local comovement of stock returns is not explained by economic fundamentals and is stronger for smaller firms with more individual investors and in regions with less financially sophisticated residents. We argue that price formation in equity markets has a significant geographic component linked to the trading patterns of local residents.
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