Determinants of Banks’ Capital Structure: Evidence from Vietnamese Commercial Banks

Tong Trung Tin, John Francis T Diaz


This paper investigates the important factors influencing capital structure decisions. The study focuses on the bank leverage of thirty-one Vietnamese commercial banks from 2009 to 2014, because they play a key role as financial catalysts in the growing economy of Vietnam. The analysis employs multiple linear panel regression models, namely, Ordinary Least Squares (OLS), Fixed Effects (FE), and Random Effects (RE). This research examines five bank-specific factors (i.e., size, profitability, growth rate, taxation and business risk), and three financial market and economic variables (i.e., stock market condition, economy, and inflation) influencing capital structure with debt ratio as the dependent variable. Both the OLS and FE models agree that a Vietnamese bank’s size positively affects leverage, which means that the larger the bank, the more debt is incurred. Both models also determine that stock market and economic conditions have negative effects, which implies that in good market conditions, banks lessen their debt loads. In dividing Vietnamese commercial banks into three groups of sizes (i.e., large, medium-sized and small banks) based on chartered capital, both the OLS and RE models agree that size is a positively contributing factor to leverage. However, unlike large Vietnamese banks, medium-sized and small-sized banks tend to still carry a relatively high amount of debt because they are commonly ignored by the equity markets for reasons of illiquidity and instability, pushing them to rely on borrowing funds even to the point of having higher interest rates. Another interesting finding of this paper is that, only small-sized Vietnamese banks’ leverage is negatively affected by stock market and economic conditions. Findings of this paper are robust in using two panel regression models, and can help Vietnamese banks’ managers have a general perspective regarding capital structure determinants. This study also offers insights in creating appropriate strategies to controlling factors affecting banks’ leverage to achieve the target capital structure that minimizes the cost of capital and maximizes profitability.

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