Transforming the Allocation of Deal Risk Through Reverse Termination Fees
80 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2010 Last revised: 5 Aug 2011
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: Suggested Citation