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A credit default swap (CDS) enables a lender to hedge its risk exposure on a loan given to reference client. The lender then reduces the monitoring of the client’s activities as well as aiding the distressed client. Two contrasting predictions can be made about how the borrower would respond to the altered lender-borrower relationship. (1) The borrower reduces risky investments to lower its vulnerability to financial distress. (2) The borrower pursues volatility-enhancing projects to increase the value of call options built into its shareholder investments. We find that a borrower shifts to a more conservative policy when its managers have low portfolio sensitivity to stock volatility (vega). A borrower with high managerial vega, however, seeks volatility-enhancing projects. Shareholders then increase vega incentives for managers to maintain investments in risky, positive NPV projects at pre CDS levels. This action, however, also results in higher bankruptcy risk. Our study shows a unique interaction between the manager-shareholder and lender-shareholder conflicts arising from CDS inception, which alters the course of the borrower’s operating policy.



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