Corporate Finance Theory (F)

Course content

Corporate Finance Theory builds on the investigation into firm capital structure from the third-year course Corporate Finance and Incentives. We take for granted that course participants have already received a full introduction to the principles of corporate finance. We now go deeper into the particular details of some of these arguments. In order to do so, we go beyond the textbook and base the course on classic and new articles from academic finance journals.


Some of the central issues in Finance relate to the financing decisions of firms, in particular the relative use of debt and equity financing. Key aspects of this capital-structure decision include the tax advantages of debt, costly bankruptcy, and signaling to the market. We also consider the market for corporate control, with leveraged buyouts as well as mergers and acquisitions.


When looking at financing decisions, we will pay particular attention to how conflicts of interest between managers, shareholders, and creditors can affect firm behavior.  Amongst other issues, we will consider how firms may take on excessive debt so as to pass bankruptcy costs on to certain creditors; opt for leveraged buyouts to take advantage of sponsor reputation; carry out liquidity mergers to avoid credit rationing; and use equity financing to mitigate information asymmetries with investors, or to reduce agency conflicts within the firm.


MSc programme in Economics – elective course

The course is part of the MSc programme in Economics, Financial line,  symbolized by ‘F’.


The PhD Programme in Economics at the Department of Economics:

  • The course is an elective course with research module. PhD students must contact the study administration AND the lecturer in order to register for the research module and write the research assignment.
Learning outcome

After completing the course the student is expected to be able to:



  • Identify and summarize key theoretical concepts and results from academic articles (intuition).
  • Identify and evaluate key modeling assumptions in an advanced, mathematically-specified theoretical framework (formal modeling).
  • Account for the economic mechanism underlying given theoretical results and discuss their interpretation (intuition).



  • Assess whether various modeling assumptions are realistic in particular real-life settings (application to case).
  • Derive and analyze formal results within an advanced, mathematically-specified theoretical framework (formal modeling).
  • Argue whether theoretical insights from various articles can shed light on given real-life cases (application to case).



  • Compare and contrast theoretical concepts from different articles, and explain the key similarities and differences (intuition).
  • Argue to what extent the formal theoretical results derived in various articles relate to the articles’ more informal interpretation (formal modeling).
  • Identify new, relevant, real-life cases, and evaluate whether theoretical insights from various articles can shed light on these cases (application to cases).


The tools and knowledge obtained in this course are of immediate relevance for graduates seeking employment in the business and financial industries. 

The teaching activities will consist of lectures where students are expected to actively participate. This will include discussing questions in groups, submitting short answers and voting on multiple choice questions using the Socrative online system, and at times coming to the board.

Restrictions due to Coronavirus:
The teaching in this course may be changed to be taught either fully or partly online due to COVID-19. For further information, please see the course room on Absalon (for enrolled students).


To read approximately eight recently-published academic articles and working papers in the field of corporate finance.

After an introductory lecture, we will start with approximately two lectures on selected topics from the textbook “The Theory of Corporate Finance” by Jean Tirole.

We will then devote approximately one week (two lectures) to each of the eight articles, supplemented by in-class discussions of related real-world issues in corporate finance.

The preliminary reading list is as follows (subject to change). Links to the articles will be posted on the Absalon course homepage.



  • Tirole, Jean. The theory of corporate finance. Princeton University Press, 2010.



  • Admati, DeMarzo, Hellwig, and Pfleiderer (2018). “The leverage ratchet effect.” The Journal of Finance, 73(1), 145-198.
  • Edmans and Mann (2019). “Financing Through Asset Sales.” Management Science, 65(7), 3043-3060.
  • Malenko and Malenko (2015). "A theory of LBO activity based on repeated debt-equity conflicts." Journal of Financial Economics, 117(3), 607-627
  • Banal-Estañol, Ottaviani, and Winton (2013). "The Flip Side of Financial Synergies: Coinsurance Versus Risk Contamination." Review of Financial Studies
  • Bayar and Chemmanur (2011), “IPOs versus Acquisitions and the Valuation Premium Puzzle: A Theory of Exit Choice by Entrepreneurs and Venture Capitalists,” Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis 46(6), 1755–1793.
  • DeMarzo, Livdan and Tchistyi (2014), “Risking Other People’s Money: Gambling, Limited Liability, and Optimal Incentives,” Stanford Business School Working Paper No.3149.
  • Fahn, Merlo, and Wamser (2019), “The Commitment Role of Equity Financing,” Journal of the European Economic Association 17(4), 1232-1260
  • Levit (2019), “Soft shareholder activism,” The Review of Financial Studies, 32(7), 2775-2808.

Students will benefit from having passed the course "Corporate Finance and Incentives", or an equivalent elaborate introduction to Finance. Students should have a good understanding of the topics covered in Part 5 (Capital Structure) of the textbook “Corporate Finance” by Jonathan Berk and Peter DeMarzo, or in another book of a similar level.

2 hours lectures 1 to 2 times a week from week 36 to 50 (except week 42).

The overall schema for the Master can be seen at KUnet:
MSc in Economics => "Courses and teaching" => "Planning and overview" => "Your timetable"

Timetable and venue:
To see the time and location of lectures please press the link under "Timetable"/​"Se skema" at the right side of this page (E means Autumn).

You can find the similar information partly in English at
-Select Department: “2200-Økonomisk Institut” (and wait for respond)
-Select Module:: “2200-E21; [Name of course]”
-Select Report Type: “List – Weekdays”
-Select Period: “Efterår/Autumn”
Press: “ View Timetable”

Please be aware:
- It is the students´s own responsibility to continuously update themselves about their studies, their teaching, their schedule, their exams etc. through the curriculum of the study programme, the study pages at KUnet, student messages, the course description, the Digital Exam portal, Absalon, the personal schema at KUnet and myUCPH app etc.



The lecturer will provide oral and written collective feedback, at various moments after students actively participate in course activities e.g. voting on multiple choice questions and submitting short answers online.

Upon request, the lecturer will also provide students with individual oral feedback on their mandatory assignment.


Office hours: The lecturer offers office hours. The lecturer infoms the student when and where.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, 30 hours
individual take-home exam.

It takes approximately up to 30 working-hours to answer the exam assignment,
Due to other exams and holidays in the same period of the exam, the student have a period of two to three weeks to solve the assignment. See "Exam period".
The student decides when to solve and upload the exam assignment within the period.

The students are allowed to communicate about the given problem-set but must work on, write and upload the assignment answer individually. The plagiarism rules must be complied.

The exam assignment is in English and must be answered in English.

All aids allowed at the written exams.


For further information about allowed aids for the re-examination, please go to the section "Re-exam".



Grading of the exam:

Exchange students must be aware, that the assessors and the University are not allowed in any way to reward a student with a grade of numerically or alphabetically value. The course and the exam will only be rewarded with a grade of

Marking scale
passed/not passed
Censorship form
No external censorship
for the written exam.

An oral re-examination may be with external assessment.
Criteria for exam assessment

Students are assessed on the extent to which they master the learning outcome for the course.


In order to obtain the grade “Pass”, the student must in a satisfactory way be able to demonstrate a minimal acceptable level of  the knowledge, skills and competencies listed in the learning outcomes, including the three relevant areas: intuition, formal mathematical modeling, and application to cases.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • Preparation
  • 134
  • Exam
  • 30
  • English
  • 206