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Financial visibility and the decision to go private

  • Hamid Mehran
  • Stavros Peristiani

A large fraction of the companies that went private between 1990 and 2007 were fairly young public firms, often with the same management team making the crucial restructuring decisions both at the time of the initial public offering (IPO) and the buyout. Why did these public firms decide to revert to private ownership? To answer this question, we investigate the determinants of the decision to go private over a firm's entire public life cycle. Our evidence reveals that firms with declining growth in analyst coverage, falling institutional ownership, and low stock turnover were more likely to go private and opted to do so sooner. We argue that a primary reason behind the decision of IPO firms to abandon their public listing was a failure to attract a critical mass of financial visibility and investor interest. Consistent with the findings of earlier literature, we also find strong support for Jensen's free-cash-flow hypothesis, which argues that these corporate restructurings are a useful tool in capital markets for mitigating agency problems between insiders and outside shareholders.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 376.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:376
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  1. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
  2. 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.
  3. Jensen, Michael C, 1986. "Agency Costs of Free Cash Flow, Corporate Finance, and Takeovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 323-29, May.
  4. Murphy, Kevin J., 1999. "Executive compensation," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 38, pages 2485-2563 Elsevier.
  5. Chung, Kee H. & Jo, Hoje, 1996. "The Impact of Security Analysts' Monitoring and Marketing Functions on the Market Value of Firms," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(04), pages 493-512, December.
  6. Renneboog, L.D.R. & Simons, T., 2005. "Public-to-Private Transactions : LBOs, MBOs, MBIs and IBOs," Discussion Paper 2005-023, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
  7. Steven N. Kaplan, 1993. "The Staying Power Of Leveraged Buyouts," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 6(1), pages 15-24.
  8. Steven N. Kaplan & Jeremy C. Stein, 1991. "The Evolution of Buyout Pricing and Financial Structure," NBER Working Papers 3695, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Merton, Robert C., 1987. "A simple model of capital market equilibrium with incomplete information," Working papers 1869-87., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  10. Steven N. Kaplan & Jeremy C. Stein, 1993. "THE EVOLUTION OF BUYOUT PRICING AND FINANCIAL STRUCTURE (OR, WHAT WENT WRONG) IN THE 1980s," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 6(1), pages 72-88.
  11. Asquith, Paul & Wizman, Thierry A., 1990. "Event risk, covenants, and bondholder returns in leveraged buyouts," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 195-213, September.
  12. Lehn, Kenneth & Poulsen, Annette, 1989. " Free Cash Flow and Stockholder Gains in Going Private Transactions," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 44(3), pages 771-87, July.
  13. Baker, H. Kent & Nofsinger, John R. & Weaver, Daniel G., 2002. "International Cross-Listing and Visibility," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 37(03), pages 495-521, September.
  14. Krigman, Laurie & Shaw, Wayne H. & Womack, Kent L., 2001. "Why do firms switch underwriters?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2-3), pages 245-284, May.
  15. Renneboog, Luc & Simons, Tomas & Wright, Mike, 2007. "Why do public firms go private in the UK? The impact of private equity investors, incentive realignment and undervaluation," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 591-628, September.
  16. Halpern, Paul & Kieschnick, Robert & Rotenberg, Wendy, 1999. "On the Heterogeneity of Leveraged Going Private Transactions," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 12(2), pages 281-309.
  17. repec:dgr:kubcen:200598 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Brennan, Michael J. & Subrahmanyam, Avanidhar, 1995. "Investment analysis and price formation in securities markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 361-381, July.
  19. Jean Helwege & Christo Pirinsky & René M. Stulz, 2007. "Why Do Firms Become Widely Held? An Analysis of the Dynamics of Corporate Ownership," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(3), pages 995-1028, 06.
  20. Mikkelson, Wayne H. & Partch, M. Megan & Shah, Kshitij, 1997. "Ownership and operating performance of companies that go public," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 281-307, June.
  21. Asquith, Paul, 1948- & Wizman, Thierry A., 1990. "Event risk, covenants, and bondholder returns in leveraged buyouts," Working papers WP 3173-90., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  22. repec:dgr:kubtil:2005023 is not listed on IDEAS
  23. Michael C. Jensen, 1991. "Corporate Control And The Politics Of Finance," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 4(2), pages 13-34.
  24. Bengt Holmstrom & Steven N. Kaplan, 2001. "Corporate Governance and Merger Activity in the United States: Making Sense of the 1980s and 1990s," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 121-144, Spring.
  25. Bhushan, Ravi, 1989. "Firm characteristics and analyst following," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(2-3), pages 255-274, July.
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