Capital Structure Decision : A case study of SMEs in the road freight industry

University essay from Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Redovisning och finansiering; Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Redovisning och finansiering; Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Redovisning och finansiering


Companies need capital in order to run their business, do necessary investments and grow larger. These actions are combined with high costs where both internal and external financing might be appropriate. Capital structure is the relation between debt and equity.

In this thesis we have focused on the decision behind the capital structure. We have focused on the road freight industry and we have tried to find out how management reason about their decision. The purpose of this thesis is therefore to describe and analyze SMEs’ decision of capital structure within the road freight sector in the Jönköping region. Emphasise is put on the different aspects that influence the capital structure decision and to what extent this is a strategic issue coloured by personal beliefs.

To fulfill the purpose mainly a qualitative approach with primary data from structured interviews has been used. The interviews were conducted face-to-face with six owner and/or managers. Further on, secondary data from the firms’ annual reports were used and analyzed.

The pecking order theory explains that firms, especially SMEs, prefer to finance their businesses with internally generated funds. Focus of the theoretical part are on theories of what factors that affects the capital structure decision, how this can be argued to be a strategic question for SMEs, how risk affects the capital structure decision and how this decision is made in a family business. These theories are presented to shed light on the capital structure decision making process of SMEs.

From this study it is found that the majority of the companies’ prefer internal financing i.e. reinvested earnings, and as a second alternative to use debt in form of bank loans. The study also shows that the reasons behind this preferred order are the will of being independent, previous experience and managements’ risk-taking propensity. We believe that these factors combined with beliefs about debt and realized need for debt works as a base for how a capital structure strategy is discussed, formed and developed. From this study it can also be concluded that risk indirect affects the capital structure decision and that a restrictive view on debt leads to a restrictive desire to grow since a fast growth in most cases needs to be financed by debt. Last, the study concludes that even though the studied firms prefer to finance with retained earnings they all use debt more or less.

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