Debt Covenants and Corporate Acquisitions
68 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2018
Date Written: November 1, 2018
We investigate the impact of debt covenants on acquisition characteristics. We find that acquirers with covenants pay lower merger premiums, make more focused acquisitions, and engage in acquisitions with higher synergy gains and higher acquirer returns around deal announcement, relative to those without. All these results are more pronounced with stricter debt covenants. Additionally, acquirers with covenants pay with a lower share fraction. In particular, capital covenants, which restrict debt issuance, are positively related to the share fraction, while performance covenants, which affect the stock of equity capital, result in a lower share fraction of payment. All our results hold only for acquirers who have not violated covenants, reemphasizing the importance of debt covenants and the threat they entail on corporate policies even before nearing violation states. Results also, generally, hold for badly governed firms, suggesting that creditors’ monitoring role through debt covenants and borrower’s effective corporate governance are substitutes.
Keywords: acquisitions, debt covenants, control rights, premium, payment method
JEL Classification: G34, G32
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