Thomas Geelen

Assistant Professor of Finance

Copenhagen Business School

I am an assistant professor of finance at Copenhagen Business School. My research interests lie primarily in corporate finance. You can download my CV here.


Can Corporate Debt Foster Innovation and Growth? (PDF, SSRN)
with Jakub Hajda and Erwan Morellec
Review of Financial Studies (forthcoming)
Abstract: Recent empirical studies show that innovative firms heavily rely on debt financing. Debt overhang implies that debt hampers innovation by incumbents. A second effect of debt is that it stimulates innovation by entrants. Using a Schumpeterian growth model with endogenous R&D and financing choices, we demonstrate that this second effect always dominates, so that debt fosters innovation and growth at the aggregate level. Our analysis suggests that the relation between debt and investment is more complex than previously acknowledged and highlights potential limitations of empirical work that focuses solely on incumbents when measuring the effects of debt on investment.

Working Papers

Information Dynamics and Debt Maturity (PDF, SSRN)
Revise and Resubmit at the Journal of Finance
Abstract: I develop a dynamic model of financing decisions and optimal debt maturity choice in which creditors face adverse selection and learn about the firm’s quality from news. In equilibrium, shareholders may choose to postpone debt issuance to reduce adverse selection and improve the pricing of newly issued debt. Over time, the benefits of learning decrease and zero-leverage firms eventually decide to issue debt. Because shorter maturity debt is less sensitive to information, younger firms issue shorter maturity debt to alleviate adverse selection while mature firms issue longer maturity debt, leading to a life-cycle theory of debt maturity.
- Cubist Systematic Strategies PhD Candidate Award for Outstanding Research at WFA 2018, Colorado Finance Summit 2018 Best PhD Program Paper, and SFI Best Doctoral Paper Award 2017

Due Diligence (PDF, SSRN)
with Brett Green and Brendan Daley
Revise and Resubmit at the Journal of Finance
Abstract: Due diligence is common practice prior to the execution of corporate or real estate transactions. We propose a model of the due diligence process and analyze its effect on prices, payoffs, the likelihood of deal completion, and the distribution of completion times. In our model, if the seller accepts an offer, the acquirer has the right to gather information and chooses when to execute the transaction. Our main result is that the acquirer engages in “too much” due diligence relative to the social optimum. Neverthe- less, allowing for due diligence can improve both total surplus and the seller’s payoff compared to a setting with no due diligence. The optimal contract involves both a price contingent on execution and a non-contingent transfer, resembling features such as earnest money or break-up fees that are commonly observed in practice.

Financing Cycles (PDF, SSRN)
with Jakub Hajda, Erwan Morellec, and Adam Winegar
Abstract: Capital ages and must eventually be replaced. We propose a theory of financing in which firms finance new capital with debt and deleverage optimally to free up debt capacity as their capital ages, thereby generating leverage cycles. Concurrently, firms shorten the maturity of their debt to match the remaining life of their capital, generating maturity cycles. These firm-level financing cycles drive aggregate leverage and maturity dynamics when capital age is correlated across firms. We provide time series and cross-sectional evidence that strongly supports these predictions and highlights the key roles of capital age and asset life in financing cycles.

Relationship Capital and Financing Decisions (PDF, SSRN)
with Erwan Morellec and Natalia Rostova
Abstract: Lending relationships matter for firm financing. In a model of debt dynamics, we study how lending relationships are formed and how they impact leverage and debt maturity choices. In the model, lending relationships evolve through repeated interactions between firms and debt investors. Stronger lending relationships lead firms to adopt higher leverage ratios, issue longer term debt, and raise funds from non-relationship lenders when relationship quality is sufficiently high. The maturity of debt contracts issued to non-relationship investors is higher than that of relationship investors. Negative shocks to relationship lenders drastically affect the financing choices of firms with intermediate relationship quality.

Debt Maturity and Lumpy Debt (PDF, SSRN)
Abstract: I develop a dynamic capital structure model in which shareholders determine a firm's leverage ratio, debt maturity, and default strategy. In my model, the firm's debt matures all at once. Therefore, after repaying the principal shareholders own all the firm's cash flows and can pick a new capital structure. The possibility to alter the capital structure at maturity gives shareholders the incentive to issue finite maturity debt and allows me to study firms' joint choice of leverage and debt maturity. I also extend my model by allowing for time-varying capital supply to study time-variation in firms' joint choice of leverage and debt maturity.
- SFI Best Doctoral Paper Award 2015


Department of Finance
Solbjerg Plads 3, A4.11
2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark