Credit derivatives give creditors the possibility to transfer debt cash flow rights to other market participants while retaining control rights. We use the market for credit default swaps (CDSs) as a laboratory to show that the real effects of such debt unbundling crucially hinge on shareholder bargaining power. We find that creditors buy more CDS protection when facing strong shareholders to secure themselves a valuable outside option in distressed renegotiations. After the start of CDS trading, the distance-to-default, investment, and market value of firms with powerful shareholders drop by 7.9%, 7%, and 8.8% compared to other firms.
debt decoupling empty creditors credit default swaps shareholder bargaining power real effects