Determinants and outcomes of foreign acquisitions : explaining and evaluating the investment decisions of multinational enterprises
This study investigates the causes and consequences of acquisitions primarily foreign acquisitions undertaken by UK publicly listed firms. Firm- and country-specific factors are found to influence the propensity to acquire and the location of the acquired subsidiary. Indicators of a firm's organisational experience, such as firm size, profitability, and its investment history, increase the probability that an acquisition (relative to no acquisition) is undertaken. Larger and more profitable firms are also more inclined to invest abroad (rather than at home), as are firms engaged in RandD activities. In choosing among foreign locations, an increase in country-specific uncertainty (proxied by exchange rate and stock market volatility) deters a firm from investing in that location. Likewise, at the firm level, uncertainty is found to discourage a firm from acquiring (relative to not acquiring), and to deter an acquirer from undertaking a foreign (relative to a domestic) acquisition. Based on changes in industry-adjusted profit levels, acquiring firms in general perform poorly after making large foreign acquisitions. However, examining profit variability reveals interestingly that firms more likely to experience a decline in profit levels are also more likely to enjoy a reduction in profit variability, and vice versa, which suggests that a risk-return tradeoff could be a consideration when acquisitions are undertaken. When acquisition performance is evaluated on the basis of a firm's share price response to its acquisition announcement, the event study shows no evidence of negative performance. Resolving this discrepancy between the two performance measures leads us to examine the reliability of the stock market as an indicator of acquisition outcomes. On the one hand the immediate stock market reaction has some ability to predict a firm's postacquisition performance, while on the other post-acquisition stock returns are shown to be not completely consistent with market efficiency.