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The Q-Theory of Mergers

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  • Boyan Jovanovic
  • Peter L. Rousseau

Abstract

The Q-theory of investment says that a firm's investment rate should rise with its Q. We argue here that this theory also explains why some firms buy other firms. We find that 1. A firm's merger and acquisition (M&A) investment responds to its Q more -- by a factor of 2.6 -- than its direct investment does, probably because M&A investment is a high fixed cost and a low marginal adjustment cost activity, 2. The typical firm wastes some cash on M&As, but not on internal investment, i.e., the 'Free-Cash Flow' story works, but explains a small fraction of mergers only, and 3. The merger waves of 1900 and the 1920's, `80s, and `90s were a response to profitable reallocation opportunities, but the `60s wave was probably caused by something else.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8740.

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Date of creation: Jan 2002
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Publication status: published as Jovanovic, Boyan and Peter L. Rousseau. "The Q-Theory Of Mergers," American Economic Review, 2002, v92(2,May), 198-204.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8740

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  1. Boyan Jovanovic & Peter L. Rousseau, 2001. "Vintage Organization Capital," NBER Working Papers 8166, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Boyan Jovanovic & Peter L. Rousseau, 2001. "Why Wait? A Century of Life Before IPO," NBER Working Papers 8081, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Hayashi, Fumio, 1982. "Tobin's Marginal q and Average q: A Neoclassical Interpretation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 213-24, January.
  4. Servaes, Henri, 1991. " Tobin's Q and the Gains from Takeovers," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 46(1), pages 409-19, March.
  5. Fumio Hayashi & Tohru Inoue, 1990. "The Relation Between Firm Growth and Q with Multiple Capital Goods: Theory and Evidence from Panel Data on Japanese Firms," NBER Working Papers 3326, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Jensen, Michael C, 1986. "Agency Costs of Free Cash Flow, Corporate Finance, and Takeovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 323-29, May.
  7. Gregor Andrade & Mark Mitchell & Erik Stafford, 2001. "New Evidence and Perspectives on Mergers," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 103-120, Spring.
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