Corporate Cash Reserves and Acquisitions

  • Author(s): Jarrad Harford
  • Published: Dec 17, 2002
  • Pages: 1969-1997
  • DOI: 10.1111/0022-1082.00179

Cash‐rich firms are more likely than other firms to attempt acquisitions. Stock return evidence shows that acquisitions by cash‐rich firms are value decreasing. Cash‐rich bidders destroy seven cents in value for every excess dollar of cash reserves held. Cash‐rich firms are more likely to make diversifying acquisitions and their targets are less likely to attract other bidders. Consistent with the stock return evidence, mergers in which the bidder is cash‐rich are followed by abnormal declines in operating performance. Overall, the evidence supports the agency costs of free cash flow explanation for acquisitions by cash‐rich firms.

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