Cross-Border Investments in Private Firms: The Benefits of Comparability for Foreign Investors


In this paper, we examine the benefits of accounting comparability for cross-border investments in private firms. Exploiting a quasi-experimental setting we examine the real effect of an increase in accounting comparability using a difference-in-differences research design. We find that the increase in accounting comparability after a major accounting reform leads to an average increase in foreign ownership of about 2 to 6 percentage points. Cross-sectional and industry results confirm that the effect is stronger for smaller, highly profitable, intangible-intensive, and more stable firms that are in the consumer durables and manufacturing industries. The findings are robust to different forms of matching procedures, variations in the measurement windows, and a placebo-test. Our large sample evidence based on the historical shareholder information of private firms provides insights on the real effects of increasing the comparability of local GAAP for foreign-direct investments in private firms. Additionally, our findings are relevant to standard setters as more countries continue their convergence towards and endorsement of International Financial Reporting Standards and update and improve their local GAAP.