Influencing Control: Jawboning in Risk Arbitrage

In an “activist risk arbitrage,” a shareholder attempts to change the course of an announced M&A deal through public campaigns, and profits from improved terms. Compared to conventional (passive) risk arbitrageurs, activists target deals susceptible to managerial conflicts of interest (e.g., going-private and “friendly” deals) and deals with lower announcement premiums. Their presence increases the sensitivity of deal completion to market signals. While they block a significant proportion of planned deals, activist arbitrageurs only modestly decrease the probability that the targets will eventually be acquired (including by a third party). Finally, the strategy yields significantly higher returns than passive arbitrage.

via Harvard



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