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The Conglomerate Discount: A New Explanation Based on Credit Risk

Manuel Ammann

University of St. Gallen - SoF: School of Finance

Michael Verhofen

University of St. Gallen - Swiss Institute of Banking and Finance

January 7, 2005

We present a simple new explanation for the diversification discount in the valuation of firms. We demonstrate that, ceteris paribus, limited liability of equity holders is sufficient to explain a diversification discount. To derive this result, we use a credit risk model based on the value of the firm's assets. We show that a conglomerate can be regarded as an option on a portfolio of assets. By splitting up the conglomerate, the investor receives a portfolio of options on assets. The conglomerate discount arises because the value of a portfolio of options is always equal to or higher than the value of an option on a portfolio. The magnitude of the conglomerate discount depends on the number of business units and their correlation, as well as their volatility, among other factors.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 13

Keywords: Diversification discount, credit risk

JEL Classification: G12

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Date posted: January 9, 2005 ; Last revised: March 26, 2014

Suggested Citation

Ammann, Manuel and Verhofen, Michael, The Conglomerate Discount: A New Explanation Based on Credit Risk (January 7, 2005). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=644782 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.644782

Contact Information

Manuel Ammann
University of Saint Gallen - SoF: School of Finance ( email )
Rosenbergstrasse 52
St.Gallen, CH-9000
Michael Verhofen (Contact Author)
University of Saint Gallen - Swiss Institute of Banking and Finance ( email )
Rosenbergstrasse 52
St. Gallen, CH-9000
HOME PAGE: http://www.verhofen.net

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