The Race of Unicorns: A Signaling Story of Private Acquisitions
69 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2018 Last revised: 16 Sep 2019
Date Written: September 1, 2019
Assets are reallocated less efficiently through mergers and acquisitions (M&As) between private firms compared to the public ones. I develop a theoretical framework to explain how information imperfections inhibit efficiency gains through private acquisitions. Two startups of different qualities are seeking initial public offerings (IPOs) for costly real options and can acquire each other before IPO. Investors initially cannot distinguish their qualities but can observe whether an acquisition occurred. I show that efficiency loss in private acquisitions is not generated by the quality of the acquirer, but rather due to a lower probability of completing deals. Furthermore, undertaking acquisitions before IPO generates a positive signal about firm quality during stock issuance. Lastly, I document empirical evidence in support of this signaling effect.
Keywords: Real Options, Startups, Merger and Acquisitions, Initial Public Offering, Information Asymmetry
JEL Classification: G14, G32, G34, D81, D82
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation