The effect of information shocks on dividend payout and dividend value relevance

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We exploit the mandatory adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) as a source of exogenous shock to the corporate financial information environment to study the potential effect that this information shock might have on the dividend payout policy and dividend value relevance in the UK and France. We employ a difference-in-differences research design, in which our choice of the control and treatment groups is mainly based on the divergence between domestic accounting standards and IFRS, while holding institutional factors constant. The UK domestic accounting standards slightly diverge from IFRS (low-divergence firms), whereas French domestic accounting standards substantially diverge from IFRS (high-divergence firms). Nevertheless, both countries have similar institutional factors that might confound the effect of IFRS adoption. Our theoretical argument is that IFRS adoption is expected to mitigate information asymmetry, a major reason for the free cash flow problem (Jensen, 1986) and cash over-retention (Myers & Majluf, 1984). Our findings suggest that IFRS adoption is a major contributor in increasing dividend payouts among high-divergence firms via reduction of asymmetric information. Moreover, improving the information environment helps investors become more confident about using accounting numbers to assess firm financial performance, which causes a significant reduction in dividend value relevance among high-divergence firms.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Review of Financial Analysis
Early online date23 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018