Why Do Banks Syndicate Loans?

by Katerina Simons
January/Februrary 1993

Loan syndication, where a group of banks makes a loan jointly to a single borrower, offers several benefits. Syndication allows banks to diversify, expanding their lending to broader geographic areas and industries. Second, syndication allows banks that are constrained by their capital-asset ratios to participate in loans to larger borrowers.

Despite these benefits, loan syndication could pose additional risks for the banking system, if the originating or lead banks withhold information about the borrower from participating banks, misleading them into making loans that are riskier than they thought. This study uses data on loan syndications to test the importance of various factors that motivate the participants. Despite a significant number of problem credits among the syndicated loans studied, it finds little evidence of opportunistic behavior by the lead banks in syndications. At the same time, it finds substantial support for the importance of bank regulation, in the form of capital requirements and lending limits, to the existence of the bank syndication market.

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