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Luca Vincenzo Ballestra ORCID logo, Graziella Pacelli ORCID logo, Davide Radi ORCID logo


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One of the most challenging issues in management is the valuation of strategic investments. In particular, when undertaking projects such as an expansion or the launch of a new brand, or an investment in R&D and intellectual capital, which are characterized by a long-term horizon, a firm has also to face the risk due to the interest rate. In this work, we propose to value investments subject to interest rate risk using a real options approach (Schulmerich, 2010). This task requires the typical technicalities of option pricing, which often rely on complex and time-consuming techniques to value investment projects. For instance, Schulmerich (2010) is, to the best of our knowledge, the first work where the interest rate risk is considered for real option analysis. Nevertheless, the valuation of investment projects is done by employing binomial trees, which are computationally very expensive. In the current paper, a different modeling framework (in continuous-time) for real option pricing is proposed which allows one to account for interest rate risk and, at the same time, to reduce computational complexity. In particular, the net present value of the cash inflows is specified by a geometric Brownian motion and the interest rate is modeled by using a process of Vasicek type, which is calibrated to real market data. Such an approach yields an explicit formula for valuing various kinds of investment strategies, such as the option to defer and the option to expand. Therefore, the one proposed is the first model in the field of real options that accounts for the interest rate risk and, at the same time, offers an easy to implement formula which makes the model itself very suitable for practitioners. An empirical analysis is presented which illustrates the proposed approach from the practical point-of-view and highlights the impact of stochastic interest rates in investment valuation.

Keywords: Real Options, Investment projects, Stochastic Interest Rates

JEL Classification: C0; C8; G30

Received: 21.02.2019

Accepted: 14.05.2019

Published online: 15.05.2019

How to cite this paper: Ballestra, L. V., Pacelli, G., & Radi, D. (2019). Valuing strategic investments under stochastic interest rates: A real option approach. Corporate Ownership & Control, 16(3), 89-97.