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Earnouts in Mergers: Agreeing to Disagree and Agreeing to Stay


  • Kohers, Ninon
  • Ang, James


We examine a large sample of mergers involving earnout payments made by bidders to target shareholders. Our findings suggest that earnouts serve two not mutually exclusive functions: as risk reduction mechanisms against misvaluation of high asymmetric information targets, and as retention bonuses for target human capital in mergers with feasible contract implementation. Around the merger announcement, bidder shareholders show significant positive responses, which are not reversed over the subsequent 3 years. In the postmerger period, the frequency of earnout payment and the percentage of target managers staying beyond the earnout period are high, supporting the use of earnouts as retention bonuses. Copyright 2000 by University of Chicago Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Kohers, Ninon & Ang, James, 2000. "Earnouts in Mergers: Agreeing to Disagree and Agreeing to Stay," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 73(3), pages 445-476, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jnlbus:v:73:y:2000:i:3:p:445-76

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    Cited by:

    1. Cain, Matthew D. & Denis, David J. & Denis, Diane K., 2011. "Earnouts: A study of financial contracting in acquisition agreements," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1-2), pages 151-170, February.
    2. Mantecon, Tomas, 2009. "Mitigating risks in cross-border acquisitions," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 640-651, April.
    3. Reena Kohli, 2012. "Impact of earnout offers on the acquiring company wealth gains in cross border acquisitions," Working papers 100, Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode.
    4. repec:eee:corfin:v:45:y:2017:i:c:p:162-175 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:agh:journl:v:18:y:2017:i:1:p:103-116 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Barbopoulos, Leonidas & Sudarsanam, Sudi, 2012. "Determinants of earnout as acquisition payment currency and bidder’s value gains," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 678-694.
    7. Nils Patschureck & Friedrich Sommer & Arnt Wöhrmann, 2015. "Contract design as a risk management tool in corporate acquisitions: theoretical foundations and empirical evidence," Journal of Management Control: Zeitschrift für Planung und Unternehmenssteuerung, Springer, vol. 26(4), pages 279-316, October.
    8. Joshua Porter & Harminder Singh, 2010. "What Factors Drive Takeovers in Australia?," International Journal of Business and Economics, College of Business and College of Finance, Feng Chia University, Taichung, Taiwan, vol. 9(2), pages 87-103, August.
    9. repec:eee:finlet:v:22:y:2017:i:c:p:146-152 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Reuer, Jeffrey J. & Shen, Jung-Chin, 2004. "Sequential divestiture through initial public offerings," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 249-266, June.
    11. Cain, Matthew D. & Denis, David J. & Denis, Diane K., 2011. "Earnouts: A study of financial contracting in acquisition agreements," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 151-170.
    12. Eckbo, B. Espen, 2009. "Bidding strategies and takeover premiums: A review," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 149-178, February.
    13. Barbopoulos, Leonidas G. & Adra, Samer, 2016. "The earnout structure matters: Takeover premia and acquirer gains in earnout financed M&As," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 283-294.
    14. Lukas, Elmar & Reuer, Jeffrey J. & Welling, Andreas, 2012. "Earnouts in mergers and acquisitions: A game-theoretic option pricing approach," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 223(1), pages 256-263.
    15. Michi Nishihara, 2016. "Selling out or going public? A real options signaling approach," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 16-28, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).
    16. repec:eee:iburev:v:26:y:2017:i:3:p:461-475 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Hamish Anderson & Ben Marshall, 2007. "Takeover motives in a weak regulatory environment surrounding a market shock: a case study of New Zealand with a comparison of Gondhalekar and Bhagwat’s (2003) US findings," Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Springer, vol. 29(1), pages 53-67, July.
    18. Étienne Redor, 2010. "L’utilisation de méthodes de paiement contingentes dans les opérations de fusion-acquisition : une solution aux problèmes d’asymétrie informationnelle ?," Revue d'Économie Financière, Programme National Persée, vol. 97(2), pages 295-307.
    19. Cain, Matthew D. & Denis, David J. & Denis, Diane K., 2006. "Earnouts: A Study of Financial Contracting in Acquisition Agreements," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1196, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
    20. Elnahas, Ahmed M. & Kabir Hassan, M. & Ismail, Ghada M., 2017. "Religion and mergers and acquisitions contracting: The case of earnout agreements," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 221-246.
    21. Finnerty, John D. & Jiao, Jie & Yan, An, 2012. "Convertible securities in merger transactions," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 275-289.
    22. Boone, Audra L. & Lie, Erik & Liu, Yixin, 2014. "Time trends and determinants of the method of payment in M&As," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 296-304.
    23. Kohli, Reena & Mann, Bikram Jit Singh, 2012. "Analyzing determinants of value creation in domestic and cross border acquisitions in India," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 998-1016.
    24. Kohli, Reena & Mann, Bikram Jit Singh, 2013. "Analyzing the likelihood and the impact of earnout offers on acquiring company wealth gains in India," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 16(C), pages 203-222.

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