Dividend payout decisions under uncertainty: the ownership influence in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in Finland

Andreas Lindén, Othmar M. Lehner*, Heimo Losbichler, Minna Martikainen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: This paper examines whether ownership type has a moderating influence on dividend payouts during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis with respect to changes in profits. Future uncertainties because of the pandemic will result in a perceived need for liquidity within the company, but retaining cash may be risky for shareholders who could look for less risky alternatives. The dividend payout strategy is thus even more closely related to the overall type concentration and strategy of the owners during the crisis. Design/methodology/approach: The effects are explored and tested on early data from 2019 to 2020 of Finnish companies using ANCOVA while controlling for profitability and sector variables. Findings: A significant effect on dividend payout during the COVID crisis was found when the companies are dominantly held by individual owners validating early suggestions on such an influence. Therefore, this study contributes further to the academic debates on the influence of ownership concentration in times of crises. This study lists certain sectors which experience diminished profits during such a crisis which pinpoints sector separation in future discussions. Research limitations/implications: This study explores early data from a specific context in the Nordic countries. However, it does so out of purpose as explained in the paper. Practical implications: Ownership type and concentration matters when it comes to dividend payout decisions under uncertainty with regard to changes in profit. Investors need to accept these behavioural insights into their decisions. Originality/value: This study examines the signalling effect of dividends by analysing how actual or anticipated change in profitability due to a crisis is reflected by owners and leads to dividend payout decisions under uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Applied Accounting Research
ISSN0967-5426
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed

Keywords

  • Agency theory
  • COVID-19
  • Dividend payouts
  • Ownership concentration

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoS: Financial management, accounting, and governance

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