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Why Do Sellers (Usually) Prefer Auctions?

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  • Jeremy Bulow
  • Paul Klemperer

Abstract

We compare the most common methods for selling a company or other asset when participation is costly: a simple simultaneous auction, and a sequential process in which potential buyers decide in turn whether to enter the bidding. The sequential process is always more efficient. But preemptive bids transfer surplus from the seller to buyers. Because the auction is more conducive to entry -- precisely because of its inefficiency -- it usually generates higher expected revenue. We also discuss the effects of lock-ups, matching rights, break-up fees (as in takeover battles), entry subsidies, etc. (JEL D44, G34, L13)

Suggested Citation

  • Jeremy Bulow & Paul Klemperer, 2009. "Why Do Sellers (Usually) Prefer Auctions?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1544-1575, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:99:y:2009:i:4:p:1544-75
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.99.4.1544
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

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