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Institutional cross-holdings and their effect on acquisition decisions


  • Harford, Jarrad
  • Jenter, Dirk
  • Li, Kai


Cross-holdings are created when a shareholder of one firm holds shares in other firms as well, and cross-holdings alter shareholder preferences over corporate decisions that affect those other firms. Prior evidence suggests that such cross-holdings explain the puzzle of why shareholders allow acquisitions that reduce the value of the bidder. Conducting a shareholder-level analysis of cross-holdings, we instead find that cross-holdings are too small to matter in most acquisitions and that bidders do not bid more aggressively even in the few cases in which cross-holdings are large. We conclude that cross-holdings do not explain value-reducing acquisitions. Beyond acquisitions, we find that institutional cross-holdings between large firms have, in fact, increased rapidly over the last 20 years, but mostly due to indexing and quasi-indexing. As in acquisitions, cross-holdings by active investors are typically too small to matter.

Suggested Citation

  • Harford, Jarrad & Jenter, Dirk & Li, Kai, 2011. "Institutional cross-holdings and their effect on acquisition decisions," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 27-39, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:99:y:2011:i:1:p:27-39

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bradley, Michael & Desai, Anand & Kim, E. Han, 1988. "Synergistic gains from corporate acquisitions and their division between the stockholders of target and acquiring firms," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 3-40, May.
    2. Paul A. Gompers & Andrew Metrick, 2001. "Institutional Investors and Equity Prices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 229-259.
    3. Matvos, Gregor & Ostrovsky, Michael, 2008. "Cross-ownership, returns, and voting in mergers," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(3), pages 391-403, September.
    4. Hansen, Robert G. & Lott, John R., 1996. "Externalities and Corporate Objectives in a World with Diversified Shareholder/Consumers," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(01), pages 43-68, March.
    5. Palepu, Krishna G., 1986. "Predicting takeover targets : A methodological and empirical analysis," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 3-35, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bodnaruk, Andriy & Rossi, Marco, 2016. "Dual ownership, returns, and voting in mergers," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(1), pages 58-80.
    2. repec:eee:jfinin:v:31:y:2017:i:c:p:77-92 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Dirk Jenter & Katharina Lewellen, 2015. "CEO Preferences and Acquisitions," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 70(6), pages 2813-2852, December.
    4. Edmans, Alex & Levit, Doron & Reilly, Devin, 2014. "Governance and Comovement Under Common Ownership," CEPR Discussion Papers 10119, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Heng GENG & Harald HAU & Sandy LAI, 2015. "Technological Progress and Ownership Structure," Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper Series 15-39, Swiss Finance Institute.
    6. repec:eee:corfin:v:48:y:2018:i:c:p:187-216 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Fich, Eliezer M. & Harford, Jarrad & Tran, Anh L., 2015. "Motivated monitors: The importance of institutional investors׳ portfolio weights," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(1), pages 21-48.
    8. Marco Becht & Andrea Polo & Stefano Rossi, 2016. "Does Mandatory Shareholder Voting Prevent Bad Acquisitions?," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 29(11), pages 3035-3067.
    9. Becker, Bo & Ivashina, Victoria, 2016. "Covenant-Light Contracts And Creditor Coordination," Working Paper Series 325, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
    10. Azar, José & Schmalz, Martin & Tecu, Isabel, 2017. "Anti-Competitive Effects of Common Ownership," IESE Research Papers D/1169, IESE Business School.
    11. Eckbo, B Espen & Makaew, Tanakorn & Thorburn, Karin S, 2017. "Are stock-financed takeovers opportunistic?," CEPR Discussion Papers 11974, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Hong Zhu & Qi Zhu, 2016. "Mergers and acquisitions by Chinese firms: A review and comparison with other mergers and acquisitions research in the leading journals," Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Springer, vol. 33(4), pages 1107-1149, December.


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