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We analyze theoretically banks’ choice of organizational structures in branches, subsidiaries or stand-alone banks, in the presence of public bailouts and default costs. These structures are characterized by different arrangements for internal rescue of affiliates against default. The cost of debt and leverage are endogenous. For moderate bailout probabilities, subsidiary structures, wherein the two entities provide mutual internal rescue under limited liability, have the highest group value, but also the highest risk taking as measured by leverage and expected loss. We explore the effect of constraints on leverage and policy implications. The conflict of interests between regulators, who minimize systemic risk, and banks, who maximize their own value, is mitigated when capital requirements are effective.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Banking and Finance. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Banking and Finance, volume 88, in 2017. DOI: 10.1016/j.jbankfin.2017.11.011

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