Overall, stock returns to acquirers tend to be negative or insignificant—in contrast to target companies, where stockholders can benefit greatly.
Companies that believe they may be targets can influence the value of an ultimate acquisition through the design of defensive techniques and by how they react to bids when they occur. Similarly, acquirers can influence the target share prices through their actions prior to the bid.
Most acquirers are overconfident in their ability to conduct acquisitions successfully.
Careful planning, including a robust internal and external communications plan, is required to mitigate the impact on equity markets of acquirers.
Many factors influence equity market reactions to an M&A bid, including how friendly or hostile the bid is, the financing structure of the bid, the relative size of the two companies, and whether the transaction is a merger or an acquisition.
Deals conducted in the most recent merger wave appear to have taken some of these issues into account and show better relative performance (relative to the market) than deals conducted in the 1980s and 1990s.
It would be nice if the markets were to react consistently in response to the announcement of M&A deals. But they don’t. At least not always. But you can depend on one thing: In the short run, shareholders of target companies benefit more than those of the acquiring company.
It is important to know how to cope with the likely equity market reaction to the announcement of a deal. First of all, you need to understand what those likely reactions will be … and then to work out whether there is anything that can be done to influence the market. Bidders can mitigate the likely negative market reaction to their share price, and targets may be able to provoke even higher bids.
This article discusses public companies only—as these are naturally the only ones with an “equity market reaction.” However, one can properly extrapolate their experience to private companies as well. While most advisers and principals in privately held companies take into account the experience of publicly held companies, the reaction of the equity markets regarding the bidder’s share price is not dependent on whether the target is public or private. Either way, the shareholder value of bidders declines, on average, following the announcement of a large acquisition.
“Most mergers fail. If that’s not a bona fide fact, plenty of smart people think it is. McKinsey & Company says it’s true. Harvard, too. Booz Allen & Hamilton, KPMG, A.T. Kearney—the list goes on. If a deal enriches an acquirer’s shareholders, the statistics say, it is probably an accident.”
New York Times, February 28, 2008
- Page 1 of 6
- Next section Equity Market Reactions for Targets