The Real Effects of Hedge Fund Activism: Productivity, Risk, and Product Market Competition
NBER Working Paper No. 17517
This paper studies the long-term effect of hedge fund activism on the productivity of target firms using plant-level information from the U.S. Census Bureau. A typical target firm improves its production efficiency within two years after activism, and this improvement is concentrated in industries with a high degree of product market competition. By following plants that were sold post-intervention we also find that efficient capital redeployment is an important channel via which activists create value. Furthermore, our analyses demonstrate that measuring performance using the Compustat data is likely to lead to a downward bias because target firms experiencing greater improvement post-intervention are also more likely to disappear from the Compustat database. Finally, consistent with recent work in asset-pricing linking firm investment decisions and expected returns, we show how changes to target firms’ productivity are associated with a decline in systemic risk, particularly in competitive industries.
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