Hostile Takeovers in the 1980s: The Return to Corporate Specialization

Discussants: Gregg Jarrel and Lawrence H. Summers
Lawrence H. Summers Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus - Harvard University

Microeconomics 1990

HOSTILE TAKEOVERS invite strong reactions, both positive and negative, from academics as well as the general public. Yet fairly little is known about what drives these takeovers, which characteristically involve significant wealth gains to target firms’ shareholders. The question is where these wealth gains come from. We examine the sample of all 62 hostile takeover contests between 1984 and 1986 that involved a purchase price of $50 million or more. In these contests, 50 targets were acquired and 12 remained independent. We use a sample of hostile takeovers exclusively to avoid using evidence from friendly acquisitions to judge hostile ones, as many studies have done. We examine such post-takeover operational changes as divestitures, layoffs, tax savings, and investment cuts to understand how the bidding firm could justify paying the takeover premium. We also examine the possibility of wealth losses by bidding firms’ stockholders as the explanation for target shareholder gains.