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The Success of Acquisitions: Evidence From Disvestitures

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  • Steven Kaplan
  • Michael S. Weisbach

Abstract

This paper studies a sample of large acquisitions completed between 1971 arid 1982. By the end of 1989, acquirers have divested almost 44% of the target companies. Using the accounting gain or loss recognized by the acquirer, press reports, and the sale price, we characterize the ex post success of the divested acquisitions and consider only 34% to 50% of classified divestitures as unsuccessful. Acquirer returns and total (acquirer arid target) returns at the acquisition announcement are significantly lower for unsuccessful acquisitions than for divestitures not classified as unsuccessful arid for acquisitions not divested. These results suggest that market reactions to acquisition announcements reflect expectations of future profits and that unprofitable acquisitions are recognized as such when initiated. Diversifying acquisitions are almost four times more likely to be divested than related acquisitions. However, we do not find strong evidence that diversifying acquisitions were less successful than related ones.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven Kaplan & Michael S. Weisbach, 1990. "The Success of Acquisitions: Evidence From Disvestitures," NBER Working Papers 3484, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3484
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