Transforming the Allocation of Deal Risk Through Reverse Termination Fees

80 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2010 Last revised: 5 Aug 2011

See all articles by Afra Afsharipour

Afra Afsharipour

University of California, Davis - School of Law ; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Date Written: March 11, 2010


Buyers and sellers in strategic acquisition transactions are fundamentally shifting the way they allocate deal risk through their use of reverse termination fees (RTFs). Once relatively obscure in strategic transactions, RTFs have emerged as one of the most significant provisions in agreements that govern multi-million and multi-billion dollar deals. Despite their recent surge in acquisition agreements, RTFs have yet to be examined in any systematic way. This Article presents the first empirical study of RTFs in strategic transactions, demonstrating that these provisions are on the rise. More significantly, this study reveals the changing and increasingly complex nature of RTF provisions and how parties are using them to transform the allocation of deal risk. By exploring the evolution of the use of RTF provisions, this study explicates differing models for structuring deal risk and yields greater insights into how parties use complex contractual provisions not only to shift the allocation of risk, but also to engage in contractual innovation.

Keywords: mergers, acquisitions, contract design, reverse termination fee, breakup fee, strategic

JEL Classification: K12, K22, G34

Suggested Citation

Afsharipour, Afra, Transforming the Allocation of Deal Risk Through Reverse Termination Fees (March 11, 2010). Vanderbilt Law Review, Vol. 63, No. 5, p. 1163, 2010, UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 210, Available at SSRN:

Afra Afsharipour (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis - School of Law ( email )

Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall
Davis, CA CA 95616-5201
United States


European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )



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