Zicheng Lei

Dr Zicheng Lei

Lecturer in Finance and Accounting
PhD (University of Warwick), Master (University of Manchester)
Semester 1: Wednesday 15:30 - 17:30; Friday 15:00 - 16:00

Academic and research departments

Department of Finance and Accounting.


Areas of specialism

Payout Policy, Corporate Governance, Political Activism, Capital Structure, Institutional Investors, and Empirical Behavioural Finance

University roles and responsibilities

  • Programme Director of MSc International Financial Management

    My qualifications

    Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

    Affiliations and memberships



    Research interests

    Research projects

    Research collaborations

    Refereeing (Academic Journals)

    Journal of Corporate Finance; Journal of Banking and Finance; Journal of Empirical Finance; Journal of Business Research; the Financial Review


    I was awarded the early career researcher of the year in Surrey Business School in 2017


    Postgraduate research supervision




    Rui Albuquerque, Zicheng Lei, Jörg Rocholl and Chendi Zhang, "Citizens United vs. FEC and Corporate Political Activism", Journal of Corporate Finance, Forthcoming. 

    Zicheng Lei and Chendi Zhang, "Leveraged Buybacks", Journal of Corporate Finance 39, 242-262. 

    Zicheng Lei, Chendi Zhang (2016) "Leveraged Buybacks", Journal of Corporate Finance 39, 242-262.

    Debt-financed share buybacks generate positive short-term and long-run abnormal stock returns. Leveraged buyback firms have more debt capacity, higher marginal tax rate, lower excess cash and lower growth prospects ex ante, increase leverage and reduce investments more sharply ex post than cash-financed buyback firms. Firms that are over-levered ex-ante are associated with lower returns and real investments following leveraged buybacks. The lower announcement returns of over-levered firms are concentrated on firms with weaker corporate governance. The evidence is consistent with leveraged buybacks enabling firms to optimize their leverage, on average benefiting shareholders. The benefits decrease with a firm's leverage ex ante.

    Rui Albuquerque, Zicheng Lei, Jörg Rocholl and Chendi Zhang (2020) “Citizens United vs. FEC and Corporate Political Activism”, Journal of Corporate Finance, Forthcoming.

    This paper analyzes the effect that the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision on Citizens United vs. FEC had on corporate political activism. The decision opened the door for corporate treasuries to engage in independent political spending. Politically connected firms have lower announcement returns at the ruling than non-connected firms. The estimates suggest that the value of a political connection decreases by $6.9 million. To evaluate the effect of Citizens United on corporate political activism, we explore the fact that Citizens United also lifts bans on independent political spending in states where such bans existed. After the ruling, firms headquartered in states where bans are lifted have fewer state-level connections relative to firms in other states. Overall, our evidence supports the hypothesis that independent political spending crowds out political connections. We do not find any significant crowding-out effects of independent political expenditures on lobbying activity, executive contributions, and political action committees (PAC) contributions.