UTS Welcomes Thomas Matthys
UTS would like to welcome Thomas Matthys who is joining the Finance Department at UTS from Vlerick Business School in Belgium, where he held a position as a postdoctoral researcher. He completed his PhD, titled “Topics in Financial Economics” at Ghent University, Belgium. His research interests include financial intermediation, access to finance, hedge funds, and monetary policy.
Thomas undertook his undergraduate studies in Business Administration at Ghent University. During his final year, he developed a passion for finance research while working on his thesis on credit ratings and financial markets. He pursued an additional research-focused Master degree in Banking and Finance at the same university. Next, he joined Vlerick Business School as a research associate where he worked together with an international consulting firm on the Belgian banking industry.
His doctoral dissertation consists of three studies about bank lending. By investigating bank lending in a number of different contexts, he aims to contribute to an improved understanding of financial intermediation, and the mechanisms underlying hedge fund activism.
In the first study, he explores ways in which banks can reduce information asymmetries about one another when they interact in the interbank market. He investigates one source of private information that is obtained through interactions outside of the interbank market, namely syndicated loans. The results show that interbank borrowers who share a larger proportion of their syndicated loan portfolio with an interbank lender obtain lower interbank spreads and larger loans. However, sharing low-quality syndicated loans and high concentration of syndicated loan sharing raises risk considerations which reduce the positive effects of private information production.
The second study centres around the impact of hedge fund activism on the target firm’s bank loan terms. His findings suggest that when a firm is targeted by an activist hedge fund, the lenders of that firm charge a significantly higher rate on future loans, and demand collateral more frequently when compared to risk- and industry-matched loans made to non-targeted firms. Importantly, he finds that the increase in loan rate and the likelihood of collateral demand is limited to only targets that experience a large positive announcement return when the news of an activist’s involvement is first announced.
In the third study, he investigates the effect of the monetary policy stance on bank risk taking using bank loan pricing data. He finds that accommodative monetary conditions are associated with overall lower loan spreads. Controlling for borrower creditworthiness, he shows that the spread reduction is lower for riskier firms, indicating that risk is appropriately priced during the period of unconventional monetary policy. His findings indicate that unconventional monetary policy actions of the Federal Reserve are not associated with excessive risk taking by banks in the syndicated loan market.
Thomas was a visiting PhD at Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business in Washington, D.C., USA. He was also a visiting scholar at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Ispra, Italy. Aside from research, he has taught financial institutions management to graduate students, banking professionals, and executives in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia over the past years.