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Auctions with toeholds: An experimental study of company takeovers

  • Georganas, Sotiris
  • Nagel, Rosemarie

We run experiments on English Auctions where the bidders already own a part (toehold) of the good for sale. The theory predicts a very strong ("explosive") effect of even small toeholds. While asymmetric toeholds do have an effect on bids and revenues in the lab, which gets stronger the larger the asymmetry, it is not nearly as strong as predicted. We explain this by analyzing the flatness of the payoff functions, which leads to large deviations from the equilibrium strategies being relatively costless. This is a general fundamental weakness of this type of explosive equilibria, which makes them fail when human players are involved. Our analysis shows that a levels of reasoning model explains the results better where this equilibrium fails. Moreover, we find that although big toeholds can be effective in a takeover battle, the cost to acquire them might be higher than the strategic benefit they bring.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal International Journal of Industrial Organization.

Volume (Year): 29 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 34-45

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Handle: RePEc:eee:indorg:v:29:y:2011:i:1:p:34-45
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505551

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  1. Crawford, Vincent P. & Iriberri, Nagore, 2005. "Level-k Auctions: Can a Non-Equilibrium Model of Strategic Thinking Explain the Winner's Curse and Overbidding in Private-Value Auctions?," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt12586197, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  2. Klemperer, Paul, 1998. "Auctions with almost common values: The 'Wallet Game' and its applications," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 757-769, May.
  3. McKelvey Richard D. & Palfrey Thomas R., 1995. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Normal Form Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 6-38, July.
  4. Colin F. Camerer & Teck-Hua Ho & Juin-Kuan Chong, 2004. "A Cognitive Hierarchy Model of Games," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 861-898.
  5. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  6. Kirchkamp, Oliver & Moldovanu, Benny, 2000. "An experimental analysis of auctions with interdependent valuations," Papers 00-10, Sonderforschungsbreich 504.
  7. Stahl Dale O. & Wilson Paul W., 1995. "On Players' Models of Other Players: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 218-254, July.
  8. Harrison, Glenn W, 1989. "Theory and Misbehavior of First-Price Auctions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 749-62, September.
  9. Betton, Sandra & Eckbo, B Espen, 2000. "Toeholds, Bid Jumps, and Expected Payoffs in Takeovers," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 13(4), pages 841-82.
  10. Christopher Avery & John H. Kagel, 1997. "Second-Price Auctions with Asymmetric Payoffs: An Experimental Investigation," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(3), pages 573-603, 09.
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