Foreign Firms Face Half the Securities Litigations of Domestic Firms

A recent paper by Cheng, Srinivasan, and Yu of the Harvard Business School found that U.S. listed foreign companies experienced about half the class action lawsuits as their U.S. counterparts.  (SSRN)  Here’s the abstract:

We study securities litigation risk faced by foreign firms listed on U.S. exchanges. We find that U.S. listed foreign companies experience securities class action lawsuits at about half the rate as do U.S. firms with similar levels of ex ante litigation risk. The lower rate appears to be driven partly by higher transaction costs in uncovering and pursuing litigation against foreign firms. However, once a lawsuit triggering event like an accounting restatement, missing management guidance, or a sharp stock price decline occurs, there is no difference in the litigation rates between a foreign and comparable U.S. firm. This suggests that effective enforcement of securities laws is constrained by transaction costs, and the availability of high quality information that reveals potential misconduct is an important determinant of a well-functioning litigation market for foreign firms listed in the U.S. 

It appears that listing on a U.S. exchange is an effective litigation deterrent for foreign firms due to asymmetric information and the high cost of litigating a foreign firm.

Posted on November 15, 2012 in Litigation

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