This paper aims to investigate the impact of leverage on the total shareholder return of European publicly traded real estate vehicles in three periods: Crisis Period (2007-2009), Rebound Period (2009-2014) and the Whole Period.Design/methodology/approachCross-sectional analysis is used and the leverage effect on the performance is controlled for seven other independent variables (local market risk premium, size, book-to-market, short-term debt, cash); moreover, regional differences are accounted for.FindingsIt is established that during the Crisis Period, leverage levels are negatively associated with performance: this relationship also holds throughout the Whole Period, implying that for real estate securities, the cost of financial distress is larger than the potential gain from taxation, although the economic significance of it is limited. The Fama and French (1992) three factors, including size, book-to-market and local market risk premium, are found to be relevant, which is consistent with the literature. In addition, the UK and Sweden regions are identified as significant.Originality/valueEven if there is sizeable body of literature on determinants of leverage and determinants of asset returns, little work has been done on how leverage affects the returns of European real estate companies. In addition, this paper takes advantage of observations from a full economic cycle and the possible effects of the crisis period.
Journal of European Real Estate Research – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 21, 2018
Keywords: Leverage; REITs; Financial crisis; Capital structure; Asset returns
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