NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Who Makes Acquisitions? CEO Overconfidence and the Market's Reaction

Ulrike Malmendier, Geoffrey Tate

NBER Working Paper No. 10813
Issued in October 2004
NBER Program(s):   AP

Overconfident CEOs over-estimate their ability to generate returns. Thus, on the margin, they undertake mergers that destroy value. They also perceive outside finance to be over-priced. We classify CEOs as overconfident when, despite their under-diversification, they hold options on company stock until expiration. We find that these CEOs are more acquisitive on average, particularly via diversifying deals. The effects are largest in firms with abundant cash and untapped debt capacity. Using press coverage as "confident" or "optimistic" to measure overconfidence confirms these results. We also find that the market reacts significantly more negatively to takeover bids by overconfident managers.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w10813

Published: Malmendier, Ulrike and Geoffrey Tate. "Who Makes Acquisitions? CEO Overconfidence and the Market’s Reaction." Journal of Financial Economics 89, 1 (July 2008): 20-43. citation courtesy of

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