Can Firms Learn to Acquire? Do Markets Notice?
Using financial, accounting and questionnaire response data we investigate the post-acquisition performance of 47 US bank holding companies that executed 579 mergers and acquisitions in the 1964-1996 period and compare it with their competitors' performance. The objectives of the study are to identify the factors that explain the variance in the distribution of post-acquisition performance, and to test whether the financial markets efficiently predict performance outcomes by incorporating public information about the acquiring firm into the stock price following the acquisition announcement. The tested model includes measures of post-acquisition decisions, such as the degree of integration of the target within the acquirer's structure and the replacement of the top management team, as well as approximations of the acquirer's capability to implement the integration process. We find that prior acquisition experience does not improve post-acquisition performance, but the degree to which acquirers articulate and codify their experience in ad-hoc tools does. Furthermore, a high level of integration of the target within the acquirer's organization improves long-term performance, whereas the replacement of top management worsens it. Financial markets do not seem to be sensitive to any of these predictors of performance in their short-term reactions, but long-term adjustments are significantly impacted by acquirers' integration strategies and codified implementation knowledge, in line with the variations of accounting returns.
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