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Toehold Strategies and Rival Bidders

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  • S. Abraham Ravid
  • Matthew Spiegel

Abstract

Prior to the announcement of a tender offer, the bidding firm is legally allowed to acquire shares in the open market, subject to some limitations. These pre-announcement purchases are known as toeholds. This paper presents a simple model that describes the bidder's optimal toehold acquisition strategy, within an environment that closely parallels the present legal institutions. The model shows that toeholds and bids interact in a complex manner even without the presence of asymmetric information. By examining a simple environment the paper provides a useful alternative hypothesis for tests of other, presumably more complex, models. One of the main implications of our model is that if no competing bidders are expected, no toeholds should be purchased. the paper demonstrates that the correct specification of an empirical model can be critical. For example, under some parameter values toehold purchases may exhibit a negative cross-sectional correlation with the pre-announcement run up in the stock price. This occurs even though prices are strictly increasing the size of the toehold. Several implications concerning various aspects of merger legislation are considered. We show that corporate charters that affect the number of shares necessary to complete a merger will have an impact only if competition among bidders is expected. The paper further shows that a rule similar to a 'fair price' provision has the desirable property that a second bidder arrives and winds if and only if he places a higher value on the target than the initial bidder. Several additional comparative statics are derived as well.

Suggested Citation

  • S. Abraham Ravid & Matthew Spiegel, 1997. "Toehold Strategies and Rival Bidders," New York University, Leonard N. Stern School Finance Department Working Paper Seires 98-053, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business-.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:nystfi:98-053
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