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Shareholders' expectations, aspiration levels, and mergers

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This paper offers a new explanation of value-reducing mergers and stock market driven takeovers by introducing recent research on aspiration levels and individual decision making under risk. If market valuation constitutes an aspiration level for managers, we show that managers may be tempted to seek riskier mergers in order to meet shareholder optimism. Such merger seeking behaviour increases in bidder overvaluation and can also favour acquisitions when the expected value of takeovers is lower than alternative investments. The paper provides support for several empirical findings and complements existing market-timing models as its predictions are decoupled from equity offers and are independent from the means of payment.

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