Drivers of Australian merger waves: industry shocks, mis-valuation and capital liquidity
The purpose of this thesis is to test the extended industry shock hypothesis, which accounts for a macro-economic capital liquidity element, in determining the drivers of merger waves. Various theories have been extended by the literature and these are broadly classified under the neo-classical theory of merger waves and the behavioural theory of merger waves. Behavioural theories have explained merger waves by taking into account the psychology of stock markets and the occurrence of merger waves during a stock market boom. The industry shock hypothesis (a neo-classical theory) however, argues that merger waves are due to the clustering of industry shocks that affect an industry’s operating environment. Along with this shock, the mis-valuation caused by a stock market boom increases asset values, thereby lowering transaction costs and hence increasing capital liquidity in the economy. This capital liquidity factor causes merger waves to cluster even if industry shocks do not. The findings in this study show that industry level merger waves exist in Australia and they occur when there is sufficient capital liquidity in the economy. The industry shock variables are found to be insignificant; however they do improve the explanatory power of the explanatory variables used in predicting the start of a merger wave. The mis-valuation variables used in this study: market-to-book ratio, 3-year return and standard deviation of the 3-year return, are insignificant and do not have any explanatory powers in predicting the start of a merger wave. Merger and acquisition announcements made to acquire Australian firms listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), are collected and analysed for the period from 1996 to 2007. The methodology used in this study is adopted from Harford (2005), which uses legit models to predict the start of merger waves. The explanatory variables are also adopted from Harford’s (2005) study and include proxies for mis-valuation, industry shock and capital liquidity. Overall, the results obtained for the Australian merger and acquisition data are inconclusive as to whether industry shocks because industry merger waves as Harford (2005) documented for the US merger and acquisition data. However, industry level merger waves do exist, as there is clustering in time of firm-level mergers within industries. Moreover, sufficient capital liquidity must be present to accommodate the necessary transactions.