The Economics of Law Enforcement: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Corporate Takeover Law

Journal of Corporate Finance, 2021 (with G. Dissanaike, W. Drobetz, J. Rocholl)

Nominated for best paper award (Financial Management Association)

Abstract: This paper examines the impact of takeover law enforcement on corporate acquisitions. We use the European Takeover Directive as a natural experiment, which harmonizes takeover law across countries, while leaving its enforcement to the discretion of individual countries. We exploit this heterogeneity in enforcement quality across countries in a difference-in-differences-in-differences model, while employing an overall inductive research approach, following the recommendation in Karpoff and Whittry (2018). We find that acquirer returns increase in countries with changes in takeover law, driven by improved target selection and lower cost of financing. The increase in acquirer returns is lower in weak enforcement jurisdictions, which we identify by developing a novel Takeover Law Enforcement Index (TLEI). The findings show that takeover law can mitigate agency conflicts, but its true value depends on its enforcement. Our results are robust to a number of robustness tests. [working paper version here]

CEO Emotions and Firm Valuation in Initial Coin Offerings: An Artificial Emotional Intelligence Approach

Strategic Management Journal, 2021

Abstract: CEO emotions are difficult to measure and hence empirically understudied. However, using artificial emotional intelligence, positive and negative affects can be identified from facial muscle contraction-relaxation patterns obtained from public CEO photos during initial coin offerings (ICOs), i.e., blockchain-based issuances of cryptocurrency tokens to raise growth capital. The results suggest that CEO affects impact firm valuation in two ways. First, CEOs’ own firm valuations conform more to those of industry peers if negative affects are pronounced (conformity mechanism). Second, investors use CEO affects as signals about firm value and discount when negative affects are salient (signaling mechanism). Negative affects can reduce firm value by up to 15%. Both mechanisms are stronger in the presence of asymmetric information. [working paper version here]

Entrepreneurial Finance and Moral Hazard: Evidence from Token Offerings

Journal of Business Venturing, forthcoming

Abstract: This paper provides the first evidence of a moral hazard in signaling in an entrepreneurial finance context, by examining token offerings or Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). Entrepreneurs ability to signal quality is crucial to succeeding in the competition for growth capital. However, the absence of institutions that verify endogenous signals may induce a moral hazard in signaling. Consistent with this hypothesis, artificial linguistic intelligence indicates that token issuers systematically exaggerate information disclosed in whitepapers. Exaggerating entrepreneurs raise more funds in less time, suggesting that investors do not see through this practice initially. Eventually, the crowd learns about the exaggeration bias through trading with other investors. The resulting investor disappointment causes the cryptocurrency to depreciate and the probability of platform failure to increase. [working paper version here]

Institutional Investors and Post-ICO Performance: An Empirical Analysis of Investor Returns in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs)

Journal of Corporate Finance, 2020 (with C. Fisch)

Abstract: We examine the role of institutional investors in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). Taking a financial investor’s perspective, we assess the determinants of post-ICO performance via buy-and-hold abnormal returns in a sample of 565 ICO ventures. Conceptually, we argue that institutional investors’ superior screening (selection effect) and coaching abilities (treatment effect) enable them to partly overcome the information asymmetry of the ICO context and extract informational rents from their ICO investments. We find that institutional investor backing is indeed associated with higher post-ICO performance. Disentangling the selection and treatment effects econometrically, we find that both of these effects explain the positive impact on post-ICO per-formance. Overall, our results highlight the importance of institutional investors in the ICO context. [working paper version here]

Antitakeover Provisions and Firm Value: New Evidence from the M&A Market

Journal of Corporate Finance, 2020 (with W. Drobetz)

Abstract: New evidence from acquisition decisions suggests that antitakeover provisions (ATPs) may increase firm value when internal corporate governance is sufficiently strong. We document that, in Germany, firms with stronger ATPs, and particularly supermajority provisions, are better acquirers. Managers of high-ATP firms create value in acquisitions by making governance-improving deals. They are more likely to engage in acquisitions that reduce their own entrenchment level and less likely to invest in declining industries. Further, our empirical evidence is consistent with a short-termist interpretation. We show that takeover threats can induce myopic investment decisions, which ATPs can mitigate. They also lead managers to engage more often in value-creating long-term and innovative investing, and increase their sensitivity to investment opportunities. Our findings contribute to a growing literature challenging conventional wisdom that the agency-increasing effect of ATPs empirically dominates the myopia-eliminating effect, suggesting that a more contextual view of the value implications of ATPs is necessary. [working paper version here]

Competition Policy and the Profitability of Corporate Acquisitions

Journal of Corporate Finance, 2020 (with G. Dissanaike and W. Drobetz)

Nominated for best paper award (Financial Management Association)

Abstract: Merger control exists to help safeguard effective competition. However, findings from a natural experiment suggest that regulatory merger control reduces the profitability of corporate acquisitions. Uncertainty about merger control decisions reduces takeover threats from foreign and very large acquirers, therefore facilitating agency-motivated deals. Valuation effects are more pronounced in countries with stronger law enforcement and in more concentrated industries. Our results suggest that competition policy may impede the efficiency of the M&A market. [working paper version here]

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