Limited Arbitrage in Equity Markets
Harvard Business School Working Paper No. 01-069
43 Pages Posted: 1 May 2001
Date Written: October 2000
This paper examines the impediments to arbitrage in 82 situations between 1985 and 2000, where the market value of a company is less than the sum of its publicly traded parts. These situations suggest clear arbitrage opportunities and provide an ideal setting in which to study the risks and market frictions that prevent arbitrageurs from immediately forcing prices to fundamental values. We find that 30% of the situations terminate without converging. Furthermore, because of forced liquidation to satisfy capital requirements, we estimate that the returns to a specialized arbitrageur would be 50% larger if the path to convergence was smooth rather than as observed. Uncertainty about the distribution of returns and characteristics of the risks appear to be an important obstacle.
JEL Classification: G10, G12, G14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation