Special Purpose Vehicles: Empirical Evidence on Determinants and Earnings Management.
Mei Feng1 Gramlich, Jeffrey D.2 Gupta, Sanjay3
Accounting Review. Nov2009, Vol. 84 Issue 6, p1833-1876. 44p. 1 Diagram, 9 Charts, 1 Graph.
We investigate the use, determinants, and earnings effects of special purpose vehicles (SPVs). Based on a proxy of SPV activity that can be applied to a broad cross-section of firms over time, we find a two-and-a-half fold monotonic increase in the percentage of firms using at least one SPV during the eight-year period from 1997 through 2004. Tobit regressions of the determinants of SPV use show that SPV activity increases with financial reporting incentives and economic and tax motivations, but strong corporate governance tends to mitigate their use. In addition, the evidence is consistent with SPVs arranged for financial reporting purposes being associated with earnings management, whereas the same does not appear to be the case for SPVs set up mainly for economic, tax, and other reasons.