Do Managers Tacitly Collude to Withhold Industry-Wide Bad News?

Do Managers Tacitly Collude to Withhold Industry-Wide Bad News?

Jonathan L. Rogers 

University of Chicago – Booth School of Business

Catherine M. Schrand 

University of Pennsylvania – Accounting Department

Sarah L. C. Zechman 

University of Chicago – Booth School of Business
February 1, 2013
Chicago Booth Research Paper No. 13-12

That managers would choose to withhold firm-specific bad news is not only intuitive, but supported by theory, observed disclosure patterns, and survey responses. When the bad news is industry-wide, however, explaining withholding as a sustainable equilibrium is more complicated. If any one firm chooses to disclose, the news effectively becomes public, creating incentives for other firms to disclose. Withholding is only sustainable if all firms cooperate (“tacitly collude”), which depends on their own incentives, and their conjectures about the incentives of other firms in the industry to cooperate. We document cases of increased intra-industry opacity in the annual 1’2K, controlling for changes in fundamentals, consistent with tacit collusion to hide news. Tacit collusion is more likely in industries with more significant equity incentives and more concentrated industries, and less likely in industries in which observable/public macro-economic data relevant to firm valuation is available. The collusion episodes are followed by abnormally poor industry level accounting and market performance two to three years out. The results have implications for understanding when market forces are sufficient to generate voluntary disclosure of industry-wide news.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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