This paper investigates why firms choose to divest their units/segments, and how firms choose among the three divestiture mechanisms (equity carveout, spinoff, and asset selloff). A direct comparison is conducted on firm’s viable choices on a comprehensive sample of corporate divestiture transactions in the period of 1985-1998. Our multinomial logit analysis provides a complete picture on corporate divestitures. We find that, in support for the focusing hypothesis, highly diversified firms are more likely to divest units when suffering from low operating efficiency. Our results are also consistent with the proposition that firms are divesting to relax their credit constraint, as firms with higher leverage ratios and low cash income are more likely to engage in carveouts or selloffs. We find limited evidence of information asymmetry as the major determinant of divestitures. We provide new findings on firm’s choice among the three divestiture options. We report that, conditioned on the decision to divest, firms mainly use asset selloffs in divesting smaller units operating in the same industry. Firms with larger divested units are more likely to use spinoff or carveout transactions. Parent firms having high revenue growth, high book-to-market ratio, and divesting unit when market sentiment is high are less likely to use spinoffs. Firms having high dividend yield, less information asymmetry, and divesting units operating in different industries are more likely to use carveout as an exit mechanism. Alternative specification of an ordered logit analysis generates consistent findings.
Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 1, 2005
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