Underwriter Competition and Bargaining Power in the Corporate Bond Market

Underwriter Competition and Bargaining Power in the Corporate Bond Market

Alberto Manconi, Ekaterina Neretina, Luc Renneboog

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Serial Number: 

Date posted :

January 22 2018

Last revised :

January 22 2018
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  • Bargaining power • 
  • corporate bonds • 
  • Underwriting

We develop a new measure of underwriter bargaining power and a novel empirical approach, based on underwriters’ comparative ability to place bonds. When an issuer has few “outside options” to take her bond to the market, the underwriter enjoys a stronger bargaining power over her.

The key feature of our approach is that bargaining power varies for a given underwriter at a given point in time across different issuers, allowing us to separate the effects of bargaining power from those of reputation and certification with a fixed effects strategy. Using our measure, we document that powerful underwriters are able to extract rents at the expense of bond issuers. For issues with the highest underwriter bargaining power, fees and bond offering yields increase by a combined cost of USD 1.5 million, or about 7% of the average costs for the issuer. We rule out alternative mechanisms based on issuer-underwriter “loyalty”. Our findings suggest that lack of competition increases underwriter bargaining power, resulting in material costs for corporate bond issuers.


Real name: 
Alberto Manconi
Real name:
Ekaterina Neretina