Dual Class IPOs, Share Recapitalizations, and Unifications: A Theoretical Analysis
56 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2008
Date Written: March 2007
We analyze a firm's choice between dual class and single class share structures, either at IPO or subsequently, prior to an SEO. We consider an entrepreneur ("incumbent") who obtains both security benefits and private benefits of control, and who wishes to sell equity to outsiders to raise financing to implement his firm's project. The incumbent may be either talented (lower cost of effort, comparative advantage in implementing projects) or untalented: the incumbent's ability is private information, with outsiders observing only a prior probability that he is talented (his "reputation"). The firm's project may be either long-term (intrinsically more valuable, but showing less signs of success in the short run) or short-term (faster resolution of uncertainty). Thus, under a single class share structure, an incumbent (not holding a majority equity stake in the firm) has a greater chance of losing control to potential rivals if he adopts the long-term project, since outside equity holders may vote for the rival if they believe that the project is not progressing well. A dual class share structure allows the incumbent to have enough votes to prevail, but may be misused by untalented incumbents to dissipate value by not exerting effort. In equilibrium, the incumbent simultaneously chooses the IPO share structure (dual class or single class), project type (long-term or short-term), and how much effort to exert. Our results help to explain firm's choices between dual class and single class IPOs and the relative post-IPO operating performance of dual class versus single class IPO firms. We also characterize the situations under which a firm will undergo a share unification or a dual class recapitalization, the announcement effect of these events on the firm's equity, and their effect on its subsequent operating performance.
Keywords: Dual Class Shares, Voting Structure, Antitakeover Provisions, Recapitalizations
JEL Classification: G32, G34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation