Corporate governance and performance: The REIT effect

REITs offer a natural experiment in corporate governance due to the fact that they leave little free cash flow for management, which reduces agency problems. We exploit a unique and leading corporate governance database to test whether corporate governancematters for the performance of U.S. REITs. We document for a sample including governance ratings of more than 220 REITs that firm value is significantly related to firm-level governance for REITs with low payout ratios only. Repeating the analysis with the complete database that includes more than 5,000 companies, and a control sample offirms with high corporate real estate ratios, we find a strong and significantly positive relation between our governance index and several performance variables, indicating that the partial lack of a relation between governance and performance in the real estatesector might be explained by a REIT effect.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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