Bastian von Beschwitz
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
FRB International Finance Discussion Paper No. 1159
This article studies the effect of cash windfalls on the acquisition policy of companies. As identification I use a German tax reform that permitted firms to sell their equity stakes tax-free. Companies that could realize a cash windfall by selling equity stakes see an increase in the probability of acquiring another company by 19 percent. I find that these additional acquisitions destroy firm value. Following the tax reform, affected firms experience a decrease of 1.2 percentage points in acquisition announcement returns. These effects are stronger for larger cash windfalls. My findings are consistent with the free cash flow theory.