Monday, 18 October 2004

Corporate takeovers and effects on share prices

This week's Economist has an article (requires subscription to view) on cross-border acquisitions expressing the surprise finding that takeovers by British firms of American firms tend to fail, whereas British takeovers of firms in the EU and other parts of the world tend to succeed:
You might expect the opposite, given that Britain's corporate culture is much like America's, but some way from those of most EU countries. (Link, requires subscription to the Economist. It's on page 69 of the magazine.)
What I don't get, though, is why the researchers involved (Alan Gregory and Steve McCorriston of Xfi, Exeter University's Centre for Finance and Investment, and yes, I think the name "Xfi" is veering dangerously close to linguistic-combover territory) are so surprised. It's probably true that American corporate culture is closer to British than the rest of the world. But surely the results show that the important factor is not the similarity of corporate culture, but whether or not the other parties have inefficiencies that can be improved upon by new management - which might be more likely elsewhere than in the US, home of shareholder-centric firms. But then, since the Economist article is short, perhaps I'm just missing a point here.

Hey, I know I normally talk about pop culture and grammar and urban planning and so on, but sometimes I like to put forth reminders that I was trained as an economist...

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