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Are controlling shareholders extracting private benefits from European public acquisitions?

Mohamed Firas Thraya (Department of Managemen, France Business School Campus de Poitiers, Poitiers, France)

International Journal of Managerial Finance

ISSN: 1743-9132

Publication date: 2 February 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the incentives of controlling shareholders in the market for corporate control. The author investigates the takeover premiums paid by a sample of European acquiring firms with voting rights structures that are highly concentrated. The results show a positive relationship between takeover premiums and the bidder’s concentration of both voting rights and excess voting rights over cash-flow rights. The author argues that with higher levels of entrenchment, takeover premiums reflect the private benefits of control which controlling shareholders in bidding firms seek to extract from a public transaction.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper uses cross-sectional regression analyses to examine the relationship between takeover premiums and the extent to which bidding firm shareholders exert control as well as the arrangement which underlie this. The sample is composed by 210 deals. The data are collected from various databases (Thomson Financial’s Mergers and Acquisition; Faccio and Lang’s (2002); Datastream/Worldscope, LexisNexis).

Findings

The premium paid in European M&A transactions is affected by the level of ownership exerted by the controlling shareholder. The results show premiums are positively and significantly associated with higher levels of voting rights, as well as, the level of separation of ownership and control when controlling shareholder ownership is low. Pyramiding structure seems to be the means of separation the most associated with takeover premiums.

Research limitations/implications

This paper can be improved by other specifications. First, it would be interesting to analyze premiums paid by firms with dispersed ownership structure and to compare these premiums with those paid by firms with controlling shareholders. Second, the author suggests to examine whether a controlling shareholder occupy the seat of a CEO or a chairman. In these cases, the author assumes that the controlling shareholder can benefit from more discretion and can extract more private benefits. Third, the author suggests extending the sample period to 2007 at least to include the sixth wave. This wave was even more significant than the high-tech wave and has not been studied much. In these cases, the author assumes that the controlling shareholder can benefit from more discretion and can extract more private benefits.

Originality/value

Previous studies show that the premium reflects the private benefits of control in privately negotiated transactions (mainly block transactions). In the present study, the author shows that the premium can also reflect private benefits in public merger transactions.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank Jens Hagendorff, Pascal Dumontier, Miguel Sousa, Réal Labelle, the session participants at the sixth Portuguese Finance Network conference, the participants at CERAG Finance workshop (University of Grenoble) for the helpful comments and suggestions.

Citation

Thraya, M.F. (2015), "Are controlling shareholders extracting private benefits from European public acquisitions?", International Journal of Managerial Finance, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 80-96. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMF-07-2012-0081

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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