Conglomerate Firms, Internal Capital Markets and the Theory of the Firm
University of Maryland - Robert H. Smith School of Business
Gordon M. Phillips
University of Southern California; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
August 3, 2013
Robert H. Smith School Research Paper
This article reviews the conglomerate literature with a focus on recent papers which have cast strong doubt on the hypothesis that conglomerate firms destroy value on average when compared to similar stand-alone firms. Recent work has shown that investment decisions by conglomerate firms are consistent with value maximization, that conglomerate firms trade at an average premium relative to single-segment firms when value weighting, and that the valuation premia and discounts, both for conglomerates and single-segment firms, are driven by differences in the production of unique differentiated products. A profit-maximizing theory of the firm that considers how firms select their organizational structure can explain these recent findings and much of the large variation in findings in the conglomerate literature. We also review the literature showing how market imperfections create additional benefits and costs of internal capital markets and a potential for managerial distortions.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 27
Keywords: Efficiency, Firm Valuation, Neoclassical Model, Multisegment Firms, Conglomerate Discount
JEL Classification: G34, L22, L25
Date posted: August 4, 2013
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