Using a unique data set collected from financial statements of all Singapore listed firms from 1983 to 1991, we provide international evidence on the determinants of the amount of secured loans as a fraction of total secured and unsecured loans. This data set comprises a much wider range of firms than most previous studies. We show that consistent with the agency‐cost hypothesis, firms with more growth opportunities use more secured loans. This is in contrast to the opposite result reported in Barclay and Smith (1995b) who measure secured debt as a fraction of total long‐term fixed claims. We also find strong support for the hypothesis that smaller firms use more secured loans. In contrast, Leeth and Scott (1989), using survey data on small firms, find an insignificant firm size effect. Finally, we show that the use of secured loans is positively related to asset riskiness and loan size, and is negatively related to asset specificity. Firm quality has no explanatory power.
Journal of Business Finance and Accounting, Vol.25, No.3&4, pp.371-385