The Young and the Restless: A Study of Age and Acquisition Propensity of CEOs of UK Firms
35 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2016
Date Written: October/November 2016
Using a large sample of CEOs of UK firms, we show that CEO age is a key determinant of acquisition activity. We find that younger CEOs are more likely to acquire another firm and spend more on large capital expenditures. We argue that while younger CEOs of both UK and US firms undertake more acquisitions than their older peers, their motivations for acquisitions might differ. We find that the stock market perceives acquisitions by younger CEOs to be of a higher quality. Following previous studies, we use CEO tenure as a proxy for reputation, and find that large acquisitions enhance CEO reputation, especially for younger CEOs. In contrast to the previous findings for CEOs of US firms, we determine that the compensation of CEOs in the UK does not increase after acquisitions. This absence of a compensation incentive for CEOs of UK firms is consistent with the idea that the UK compensation structure is more restrictive and has a smaller equity‐based component. Our evidence is also inconsistent with an overconfidence effect. Overall, our results provide consistent evidence of executive signaling by younger CEOs of UK firms eager to distinguish themselves.
JEL Classification: CEO, age, merger, acquisition, signaling
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