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Product Market Synergies and Competition in Mergers and Acquisitions: A Text-Based Analysis

  • Gerard Hoberg
  • Gordon M. Phillips

We examine how product differentiation influences mergers and acquisitions and the ability of firms to exploit product market synergies. Using novel text-based analysis of firm 10K product descriptions, we find three key results. (1) Firms are more likely to enter restructuring transactions when the language describing their assets is similar to all other firms, consistent with their assets being more redeployable. (2) Targets earn lower announcement returns when similar alternative target firms exist. (3) Acquiring firms in competitive product markets experience increased profitability, higher sales growth, and increased changes in their product descriptions when they buy target firms that are similar to them and different from rival firms. Our findings are consistent with similar merging firms exploiting synergies to create new products and increase their product differentiation relative to ex-ante rivals.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14289.

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Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Gerard Hoberg & Gordon Phillips, 2010. "Product Market Synergies and Competition in Mergers and Acquisitions: A Text-Based Analysis," Review of Financial Studies, Oxford University Press for Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(10), pages 3773-3811, October.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14289
Note: CF
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  1. Gordon M Phillips & Vojislav Maksimovic, 1999. "The Market for Corporate Assets: Who Engages in Mergers and Asset Sales and are there Efficiency Gains?," Working Papers 99-12, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  2. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1995. "Debt and Seniority: An Analysis of the Role of Hard Claims in Constraining Management," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 567-85, June.
  3. Baker, Jonathan B & Baresnahan, Timothy F, 1985. "The Gains from Merger or Collusion in Product-differentiated Industries," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(4), pages 427-44, June.
  4. Michael C. Jensen, 1994. "The Modern Industrial Revolution, Exit, And The Failure Of Internal Control Systems," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 6(4), pages 4-23.
  5. Morck, Randall & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 1988. "Management ownership and market valuation : An empirical analysis," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1-2), pages 293-315, January.
  6. Gerard Hoberg & Gordon M. Phillips, 2008. "Real and Financial Industry Booms and Busts," NBER Working Papers 14290, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Aviv Nevo, 2000. "Mergers with Differentiated Products: The Case of the Ready-to-Eat Cereal Industry," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(3), pages 395-421, Autumn.
  8. Andrade, Gregor & Stafford, Erik, 2004. "Investigating the economic role of mergers," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 1-36, January.
  9. Steven Kaplan & Michael S. Weisbach, 1990. "The Success of Acquisitions: Evidence From Disvestitures," NBER Working Papers 3484, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Tim Loughran & Jay Ritter, 2004. "Why Has IPO Underpricing Changed Over Time?," Financial Management, Financial Management Association, vol. 33(3), Fall.
  11. Boyan Jovanovic & Peter L. Rousseau, 2002. "The Q-Theory of Mergers," NBER Working Papers 8740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Healy, Paul M. & Palepu, Krishna G. & Ruback, Richard S., 1992. "Does corporate performance improve after mergers?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 135-175, April.
  13. Mitchell, Mark L. & Mulherin, J. Harold, 1996. "The impact of industry shocks on takeover and restructuring activity," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 193-229, June.
  14. Li, Feng, 2008. "Annual report readability, current earnings, and earnings persistence," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2-3), pages 221-247, August.
  15. Gregor Andrade & Mark Mitchell & Erik Stafford, 2001. "New Evidence and Perspectives on Mergers," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 103-120, Spring.
  16. Harford, Jarrad, 2005. "What drives merger waves?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(3), pages 529-560, September.
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