Robbing Peter to Pay Paul: Earnings management practices in Brazilian SOEs

Nadjara Davi Silva, Fernanda Maciel Peixoto, Flavio Barboza, Catarine Palmieri Pitangui Tizziotti


Objective:The accounting information can be manipulated in order to change the perception of the minority shareholders about the real situation of the firm. In case of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), they can have their wealth expropriated by the politicians and bureaucrats’ opportunistic behavior, which is an incentive to the earnings management (EM) practice. This study aims to analyze the state ownership effects on EM in Brazil, and investigate the link between EM, and ownership and control structures.

Method: Data from 2006–2015,for 250 non-financial Brazilian public firms, which covers 26 SOEs. The analyses are based on multiple regression methods with panel data.

Originality/Relevance:This study innovates by including in this analysis the interaction of state control with the excess of control rights over the ownership rights of the largest shareholders, and analyze the entrenchment effect. Additionally, addresses the EM both in terms of direction and breadth.

Results: SOEs tend to take on income-increasing practices, which persisted even after the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). However, the IFRS adoption led to a reduction in the level of EM, in special the positive trend. Yet, the firms' market value and size are significant for explaining EM.

Theoretical/Methodological contributions: this study helps to understand the behavior of Brazilian SOEs, while reveals the SOE's political influence can induce greater information asymmetry and the control is more concentrated in there, which supposedly raises the risks of minority shareholders' expropriation. These results suggest the need for improvements in the transparency of these companies.


State-owned enterprises; earnings management; ownership and control structure; IFRS

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