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Toeholds and Takeovers


  • Jeremy Bulow
  • Ming Huang
  • Paul Klemperer


Part ownership of a takeover target can help a bidder win a takeover auction, often at a low price. A bidder with a ``toehold'' bids aggressively in a standard ascending auction because its offers are both bids for the remaining shares and asks for its own holdings. While the direct effect of a toehold on a bidder's strategy may be small, the indirect effect is large in a common value auction. When a firm bids more aggressively, its competitors face an increased winner's curse and must bid more conservatively. This allows the toeholder to bid more aggressively still, and so on. One implication is that a controlling minority shareholder may be immune to outside offers. The board of a target may increase the expected sale price by allowing a second bidder to buy a toehold on favorable terms, or by running a sealed bid auction.
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Suggested Citation

  • Jeremy Bulow & Ming Huang & Paul Klemperer, 1999. "Toeholds and Takeovers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(3), pages 427-454, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:107:y:1999:i:3:p:427-454

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Singh, Rajdeep, 1998. "Takeover Bidding with Toeholds: The Case of the Owner's Curse," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 11(4), pages 679-704.
    2. Stulz, Rene M & Walkling, Ralph A & Song, Moon H, 1990. " The Distribution of Target Ownership and the Division of Gains in Successful Takeovers," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 45(3), pages 817-833, July.
    3. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1986. "Large Shareholders and Corporate Control," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 461-488, June.
    4. Bulow, Jeremy & Roberts, John, 1989. "The Simple Economics of Optimal Auctions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1060-1090, October.
    5. Schwert, G. William, 1996. "Markup pricing in mergers and acquisitions," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 153-192, June.
    6. Milgrom, Paul R, 1981. "Rational Expectations, Information Acquisition, and Competitive Bidding," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 921-943, June.
    7. Walkling, Ralph A., 1985. "Predicting Tender Offer Success: A Logistic Analysis," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(04), pages 461-478, December.
    8. Bikhchandani, Sushil, 1988. "Reputation in repeated second-price auctions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 97-119, October.
    9. Christopher Avery, 1998. "Strategic Jump Bidding in English Auctions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(2), pages 185-210.
    10. 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.
    11. Eckbo, B. Espen & Langohr, Herwig, 1989. "Information disclosure, method of payment, and takeover premiums : Public and private tender offers in France," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 363-403.
    12. Chowdhry, Bhagwan & Nanda, Vikram, 1993. " The Strategic Role of Debt in Takeover Contests," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(2), pages 731-745, June.
    13. Engelbrecht-Wiggans Richard, 1994. "Auctions with Price-Proportional Benefits to Bidders," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 339-346, May.
    14. Jennings, Robert H & Mazzeo, Michael A, 1993. "Competing Bids, Target Management Resistance, and the Structure of Takeover Bids," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 6(4), pages 883-909.
    15. Sanford J. Grossman & Oliver D. Hart, 1980. "Takeover Bids, the Free-Rider Problem, and the Theory of the Corporation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 11(1), pages 42-64, Spring.
    16. Ralph A. Walkling & Michael S. Long, 1984. "Agency Theory, Managerial Welfare, and Takeover Bid Resistance," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(1), pages 54-68, Spring.
    17. Jarrell, Gregg A & Poulsen, Annette B, 1989. "Stock Trading before the Announcement of Tender Offers: Insider Trading or Market Anticipation?," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 225-248, Fall.
    18. Raghavendra Rau, P. & Vermaelen, Theo, 1998. "Glamour, value and the post-acquisition performance of acquiring firms," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 223-253, August.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • G30 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - General
    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions


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