Financial Accounting for the Shipping Industry

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD

Abstract

This thesis focuses on financial accounting for the shipping industry. The research motivation stems from the need to control information asymmetry in a sector with high external finance needs. In this respect, since information asymmetry can negatively affect the funds of a shipping firm, which are needed to operate efficiently and invest in new vessels, the current thesis aims to analyze the accounting and auditing procedures of these firms. The first chapter covers the thesis introduction, which develops the research motivation, as well as a summary of the main results of each chapter. The second chapter examines the differences in the accounting and auditing procedures as well as the developments in the fintech sector that are useful and are expected to affect the shipping industry. The second chapter’s contribution regards the need to develop special accounting and auditing procedures to accommodate the special needs of the shipping industry compared to other sectors of the economy. The third chapter focuses on special accounting issues that have an impact on information asymmetry and the financial statements of a shipping firm. The results of this chapter show that bigger maritime firms have a higher quality of earnings through less positive discretionary accruals. This finding is likely related to the high needs of larger shipping firms for funding, which in turn increases the need for high-quality financial statements. Moreover, the operating performance of maritime firms that are incorporated in countries where the accounting standards have converged to the IFRS is positively related to earnings quality, while the fraction of the tangible assets of a shipping firm compared to the total assets is negatively related to discretionary accruals. This chapter contributes to the literature by providing evidence of the attempt of shipping firms to increase the quality of the accounting information, to decrease information asymmetry, through the decrease in discretionary accruals, as well as the factors that affect this procedure. The fourth chapter examines the effects on information asymmetry and earnings quality conditional on the choice of the country of incorporation. The chapter’s results underline the likely existence of a relation between earnings quality and the decision of a shipping firm to base its operation in an OFC due to the existence of a flexible regulation environment, financial secrecy and low tax rates. The chapter contributes by showing that simply fixating on one of the three above characteristics of an OFC won’t help in uncovering the determinants of earnings quality. On the contrary, a combination of those characteristics may help in explaining changes in the level of earnings management and, in turn, information asymmetry. The fifth chapter concludes the thesis, describes the limitations, and offers implications for future research.
Date of Award17 Feb 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorDimitrios Gounopoulos (Supervisor) & David Newton (Supervisor)

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