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Accounting Department's Lecture

TIME: 12:00 ,Apr12,2018
PLACE: Room 706, Business Building
TOPIC: State ownership and the structuring of lease contract

SPEAKER:Shanshan Zhang

This paper examines how state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in China structure their lease contract. We find that SOEs have a higher tendency to structure their lease contract as finance leases rather than operating leases compared to non-SOEs. Using split share structure reform as an exogenous shock to privatization, we find that such tendency is alleviated when state-owned shares are sold to the public after the reform. Further, we document that SOEs engage more finance leases when they are subject to greater government intervention and when lease capitalization substantially improves their growth rate and asset rankings. These results suggest that the emphasis on SOE’s size and growth by Chinese government has motivated SOEs to structure more finance leases. Consequently, compared to non-SOEs, the lease liability on the balance sheet in SOEs is less likely to be a “true liability”, whereas the future lease payment off the balance sheet is more likely to be a “true rent”. However, we only find weak evidence that investors in Chinese capital market see through the difference in risk relevance of finance leases between SOEs and non-SOEs, and no evidence they see through that of operating lease. Consistent with this mispricing, we document a significant return to a hedged portfolio that goes long in firms with low operating lease and short in firms with high operating lease in non-SOEs, but not in SOEs. Our paper supports a consistent accounting treatment for all lease contracts and thus adds to the debate on IFRS 16.