Findings from several studies on corporate mergers and acquisitions during the 1970's and 1980's raise questions about why firms initiate and consummate such transactions. One study showed, for example, that acquiring firms were on average unable to maintain acquired firms' pre-merger levels of profitability. A second study concluded that post-acquisition gains to most acquiring firms were not adequate to cover the premiums paid to obtain acquired firms. A third demonstrated that, following the announcement of a prospective merger, the stock of the prospective acquiring firm tends to increase in value much less than does that of the firm for which it bids. Yet mergers and acquisitions remain common, and bidders continue to assert that their objectives are economic ones. Acquisitions may well have the desirable effect of channeling a nation's resources efficiently from less to more efficient sectors of its economy, but the individual acquisitions executives arranging these deals must see them as advancing either their own or their companies' private economic interests. It seems that factors having little to do with corporate economic interests explain acquisitions. These factors may include the incentive compensation of executives, lack of monitoring by boards of directors, and managerial error in estimating the value of firms targeted for acquisition. Alternatively, the acquisition acts of bidders may derive from modeling: a manager does what other managers do.


The primary purpose of the passage is to


review research demonstrating the benefits of corporate mergers and acquisitions and examine some of the drawbacks that acquisition behavior entails

contrast the effects of corporate mergers and acquisitions on acquiring firms and on firms that are acquired

report findings that raise questions about a reason for corporate mergers and acquisitions and suggest possible alternative reasons

explain changes in attitude on the part of acquiring firms toward corporate mergers and acquisitions

account for a recent decline in the rate of corporate mergers and acquisitions

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