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Why Do firms Merge and Then Divest: A Theory of Financial Synergy


  • Zsuzsanna Fluck
  • Anthony Lynch


This paper develops a theory of mergers and divestitures wherein the motivation for mergers stems from the inability to finance marginally profitable, possibly short-horizon projects as stand-alone entities due to agency problems between managers and potential claimholders. A conglomerate merger can be viewed as a technology that allows a marginally profitable project, which could not obtain financing as a stand-alone, to obtain financing and survive a period of distress. If profitability improves, the financing synergy ends and the acquirer divests assets to avoid coordination costs. Since it is the project's ability to survive as a stand-alone that causes the divestiture, divestiture decisions are interpreted as good news by the market in our model. Further, our theory is able to reconcile two important but seemingly contradictory empirical

Suggested Citation

  • Zsuzsanna Fluck & Anthony Lynch, 1998. "Why Do firms Merge and Then Divest: A Theory of Financial Synergy," New York University, Leonard N. Stern School Finance Department Working Paper Seires 98-036, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business-.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:nystfi:98-036

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