Measuring and managing risk factors is an essential part of value creation process in banks. When granting loans, banks have an incentive to take risks, as this will result in higher bank profitability. At the same time, however, their appetite for risk-taking must go hand in hand with banks’ ability to absorb potential losses. The recent troubles affecting the Italian banking sector have highlighted an excessive, incorrect and poorly weighted credit risk assumption. Within this scenario, this paper intends to verify whether a relationship exists between ownership concentration and risk assumption in Italian banks. To this aim, a panel data analysis of all active Italian banks was conducted taking into consideration a five-year period, from 2012 to 2016. The study revealed the existence of a negative relationship between the presence of a controlling shareholder and the risk appetite. As a second step, the role played by the bank size on the relationship between ownership concentration and risk assumption was investigated. Results showed that ownership concentration is significantly associated with risk assumption in small-sized banks. However, risk assumption in large banks does not seem to be related to ownership concentration. It can be argued that larger banks, which are subject to a higher level of external control by the market and can attract skilled managers easily, tend to grant more decisional autonomy to their managers in terms of risk assumption. This work is the first empirical study carried out in Italy on the subject. The results of this research can be useful to better understand how the increasing banking concentration, stock dilution and growth in bank size could lead to a higher assumption of risk. Such insight could also help both investors, in their choices of capital allocation, and regulators and policy makers in the development of new regulatory frameworks.
KEYWORDS: ownership concentration, risk assumption, Italian banks
Terzani, S., Burchi, A., Mari, L. M. & Soscia, M. (2020). Concentrazione azionaria e assunzione del rischio: un’indagine empirica sulle banche italiane, RIREA, n.2, pp. 168-182