Measuring the Quality of Mergers and Acquisitions
77 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2021 Last revised: 16 Aug 2023
Date Written: August 15, 2023
We develop a measure of merger and acquisition (M&A) quality using accounting theory. This measure, implied return-on-equity improvement (IRI), quantifies the minimum improvement in the target’s post-acquisition return on equity (ROE) the acquirer must attain to break even on the acquisition price. Employing a large sample of M&As from 1980 to 2018, we find that a high IRI is, on average, less attainable ex post and predicts worse acquirer financial performance. The acquirer’s ROE growth over the first three years after the M&A is 11 percentage points lower for high-IRI M&As compared to low-IRI M&As. Worse high-IRI acquirer performance is observable through higher operating costs, tighter financial constraints, lower investments, and larger and more frequent goodwill impairments. We also find that IRI increases with acquiring CEOs’ overconfidence, incentive misalignment, and difficulty in estimating synergies; IRI decreases with acquirers’ financial discipline and due diligence effort. As such, overestimating synergies and managerial incentives that drive overpayment are potential mechanisms underlying IRI’s negative association with acquirers’ post-M&A performance.
Keywords: mergers and acquisitions, deal quality, post-acquisition performance, overpayment, overestimation of synergies
JEL Classification: M41, G13, G14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation