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Firm exit after distress: differentiating between bankruptcy, voluntary liquidation and M&A

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  • Sofie Balcaen
  • Sophie Manigart

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  • Jozefien Buyze
  • Hubert Ooghe

Abstract

This paper examines firm-level determinants of mature firm exits after economic distress. Using nested logit models and a sample of 6,118 distress-related exits in Belgium, we analyze the type of exit that distressed firms experience. We show that 41% of the firms in our sample exit through a court driven exit procedure (mainly bankruptcy), 44% are voluntarily liquidated and 14% are acquired, merged or split (hereafter M&A). Distressed firm exit follows two distinct stages. First, a firm either decides to exit voluntarily or is forced into bankruptcy, which is the least efficient exit strategy. Compared to bankruptcy, the probability of a voluntary exit increases with higher levels of cash, lower leverage, holding no secured debt and being embedded in a group. If a firm exits voluntarily, it enters a second stage and decides either to exit through voluntary liquidation or through a M&A. Conditional on not going bankrupt, the likelihood of voluntary liquidation compared to M&A increases with higher levels of cash or secured debt, with smaller size and with an absence of group relations. We contribute to the firm exit literature by jointly analyzing three exit types and showing that bankruptcy and voluntary liquidation are fundamentally different exit routes. While voluntary liquidation is an important exit route for distressed firms, most previous studies have failed to distinguish between bankruptcy and liquidation. We hence contribute to the exit literature by showing that bankruptcy, voluntary liquidation and M&A are fundamentally distinct exit routes for distressed firms, driven by different firm level characteristics and following a two-stage process. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Sofie Balcaen & Sophie Manigart & Jozefien Buyze & Hubert Ooghe, 2012. "Firm exit after distress: differentiating between bankruptcy, voluntary liquidation and M&A," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 39(4), pages 949-975, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:sbusec:v:39:y:2012:i:4:p:949-975
    DOI: 10.1007/s11187-011-9342-7
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    2. Bottasso, Anna & Conti, Maurizio & Sulis, Giovanni, 2017. "Firm dynamics and employment protection: Evidence from sectoral data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 35-53.
    3. DeTienne, Dawn R. & McKelvie, Alexander & Chandler, Gaylen N., 2015. "Making sense of entrepreneurial exit strategies: A typology and test," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 255-272.
    4. Justo, Rachida & DeTienne, Dawn R. & Sieger, Philipp, 2015. "Failure or voluntary exit? Reassessing the female underperformance hypothesis," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 775-792.
    5. Zajc Kejžar, Katja, 2016. "Shutdown versus M&A: An empirical investigation of Slovenian incumbent firms’ responses to foreign competition," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 247-259.
    6. Siepel, Josh & Cowling, Marc & Coad, Alex, 2017. "Non-founder human capital and the long-run growth and survival of high-tech ventures," Technovation, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 34-43.
    7. In Heo & So Sohn & Eun Ji, 2014. "Effects of the matching fund program on IPO and bankruptcy of SMEs in Korea," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 117-129, January.
    8. Lee, Seung-Hyun & Peng, Mike W. & Song, Sangcheol, 2013. "Governments, entrepreneurs, and positive externalities: A real options perspective," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 333-347.
    9. A. Heughebaert & T. Vanacker & S. Manigart, 2012. "Institutional Frameworks, Venture Capital and the Financing of European New Technology-Based Firms," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 12/809, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Firm exit; Bankruptcy; Liquidation; Acquisition; Economic distress; Nested logit; G33; G34; C12; C25; D21;

    JEL classification:

    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation
    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • C12 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Hypothesis Testing: General
    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory

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