5573 Course III - Corporate Finance
Natalija Kostic, MSc (WU), Clemens Wagner, MSc (WU)
Contact details (interactive part), (admin questions). Please indicate your course number!
Weekly hours
Language of instruction
02/15/23 to 02/27/23
Registration via LPIS
Notes to the course
Day Date Time Room
Wednesday 03/15/23 02:00 PM - 05:00 PM TC.1.01 OeNB
Wednesday 03/22/23 02:45 PM - 05:00 PM TC.1.01 OeNB
Thursday 03/23/23 02:45 PM - 05:00 PM D5.0.002
Wednesday 03/29/23 02:45 PM - 05:00 PM TC.1.01 OeNB
Thursday 03/30/23 02:45 PM - 05:00 PM TC.4.13
Wednesday 04/12/23 02:45 PM - 05:00 PM TC.1.01 OeNB
Thursday 04/13/23 02:45 PM - 05:00 PM D5.1.001
Wednesday 04/19/23 02:45 PM - 05:00 PM TC.1.01 OeNB
Thursday 04/20/23 02:45 PM - 05:00 PM TC.3.08
Thursday 04/27/23 02:45 PM - 05:00 PM TC.3.08
Wednesday 05/03/23 08:30 AM - 10:00 AM Präsenz-Prüfung


Topic 1: Corporate financing and real asset valuation

o Leverage (mix of debt and equity)

o Debt tax shields

o Cost of capital

o Valuation of real assets:

o Weighted average cost of capital (WACC) method

o Adjusted present value (APV) method


Topic 2: Corporate financing policy

o Irrelevance of capital structure (Modigliani-Miller-Theorem)

o Observed patterns in corporate financing policies and the assumptions of MM


Topic 3: Capital structure: trade-off between tax shields and financial distress costs

o Corporate and personal taxes

o Direct and indirect bankruptcy costs


Topic 4: Debt holder – equity holder conflicts

o Debt overhang / underinvestment

o Asset substitution / risk-shifting

o Short-sighted investments

o Reluctance to liquidate


Topic 5: Management incentives, information and corporate control

o Free cash flow problem / overinvestment

o Pecking order theory

Learning outcomes

After completing the course, students will understand

· how real assets are valued, taking into consideration the appropriate cost of capital

· the effect of leverage and debt tax shields on a firm’s cost of capital

· the irrelevance of capital structure and payout policy under the assumptions proposed by Modigliani and Miller (MM) and how relaxing the assumptions of MM can help explain observed patterns of optimal corporate financing policies

· the trade-off between debt tax-shields and financial distress costs, such as direct and indirect bankruptcy costs

· conflicting interests of debt holders and equity holders and how they may affect corporate financing and investment decisions (underinvestment, asset substitution, short-sighted investments, reluctance to liquidate)

· the separation of ownership and control and the misalignment of incentives of management and shareholders

· that information asymmetries may cause underpricing of newly issued securities due to adverse selection (pecking order).

Attendance requirements

Participation is compulsory in the interactive part. There are grade related performance assessments in each interactive unit. It is not possible to get points for those assessments if you are not present for the entire unit. Note that students may still pass the course if they are absent in the interactive sessions once only. However, students will fail the course if they are absent in the interactive sessions twice or more.

Teaching/learning method(s)

The course is composed of two parts, a lecture part (5 units) and an interactive part (5 units). The lecture part is organized in one big class for all students of the specialization. The interactive part is organized in small groups (max. 30 students). The five lecture units take place once a week. The five interactive units also take place once a week, but start one week after the first lecture unit.

The teaching approach of the lecture part is the traditional class room teaching. In the interactive part a mix of methods is applied that includes student presentations of numerical examples (“mini-cases”), class discussions, presentations by the lecturer and real-life case studies. There will be a final exam which covers the content of the lecture part, the interactive part, as well as the specified textbook chapters.

Based on the introduction to the underlying concepts in the lecture part, students will have to prepare small numerical problems ("mini-cases") for the interactive part. The concepts of the first lecture unit are applied and deepened in the first interactive unit, and so on. The mini-cases are presented by students and solutions are discussed with the lecturer. In addition, more involved case studies are discussed to provide additional insight into industry applications.

The courses are held on campus. The final exam will also be on campus.

Please note the following policy regarding the hybrid mode of this course:
Streaming of the lecture units will only take place if the number of students in the room exceeds the room capacity. Seats in the lecture room are available on a first come  - first serve basis. The interactive classes will never be streamed.


The components for the grades are weighted as follows:

  • 40% final exam
  • 60% interactive part

Interactive part: Students have to prepare mini-cases for the weekly sessions and have to indicate (“check”) the mini-cases they can solve and are ready to present before each session. The solutions of the mini-cases must be uploaded to Learn before each interactive unit. Each example will be presented by a randomly selected student who checked this example. Students need to check a minimum number of mini-cases to pass the course. The baseline number of mini-cases and the minimum number to pass will be communicated before the start of the interactive part, e.g., a baseline of 27 mini-cases with a minimum of 19 mini-cases to pass. Note, the baseline number serves as a reference, there can be more but never less mini-cases than indicated by this number.

The presentation of mini-cases will be evaluated. Students need to be able to solve the mini-cases they present and explain their reasoning. A negative assessment of a student's presentation reduces the number of checked mini-cases. The precise deduction for such a fail will again be communicated before the start of the interactive part, e.g., a deduction of 6 mini-cases. The same deduction applies if a student indicates mini-cases he/she did not solve.

For example: If a student checks 27 mini-cases overall and fails one presentation, the number of checked mini-cases is reduced to 21. Note that two failed presentations will always lead to a number of checked mini-cases that is below the necessary minimum number and, thus, the student fails the course.

Grading: Formally, the evaluation is based on the percentage of credits earned (minimum of 50% of credits needed to pass). This percentage of credits C will be computed by C = 0.4*Clecture + 0.6*CinteractiveClecture denotes the percentage of credits earned at the final exam (between 0% and 100%). Cinteractive denotes the percentage of credits earned for the interactive part. The interactive part credits are calculated by dividing the checked mini-cases (after potential reductions for fails) by the baseline number of mini-cases, e.g., 21 checked mini-cases / 27 = 77.78%. If the checked number of mini-cases is below the minimum number, the resulting credit for the interactive part is 0% and the student fails the course.

For example: The student scores 90% in the final exam and 77.78% in the interactive part, then C = 0.4 * 90% + 0.6 * 77.78% = 82.8%.

The following grading scheme based on C is applied:

Percentage Grade
[87.5%;100%]: 1 1
[75%;87.5%): 2 2
[62.5%;75%): 3 3
[50%;62.5%): 4 4
<50%: 5 5

square bracket [ ] = percentage is still included in the quantity
round bracket ( ) = percentage is no longer included in the quantity

Please note that you will receive a grade for this course as soon as you upload and indicate exercises for an interactive unit.

Prerequisites for participation and waiting lists

Students need to be admitted to the specialization Finance: Markets, Institutions & Instruments and need to have completed Course I and Course II successfully to register for the course.


Please log in with your WU account to use all functionalities of read!t. For off-campus access to our licensed electronic resources, remember to activate your VPN connection connection. In case you encounter any technical problems or have questions regarding read!t, please feel free to contact the library at

Recommended previous knowledge and skills

Basic knowledge of Excel or R, basics in Statistics

Availability of lecturer(s)

Unit details

Unit Date Contents
Last edited: 2023-02-24