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Article

The relevance of political affinity for the initial acquisition premium in cross-border acquisitions

Bertrand O., Betschinger M., Settles A.

Research summary: In the context of economic nationalism, we investigate the relevance of political affinity between countries to the initial acquisition premium offered in cross-border acquisitions. Political affinity is defined as the similarity of national interests in global affairs. We argue that political affinity affects how foreign acquirers anticipate their bargaining position in their negotiations with domestic target firms. With decreasing political affinity, the host government becomes increasingly likely to intervene against foreign firms in an acquisition deal. Consequently, foreign acquirers need to provide a more lucrative initial offer to dissuade target firms from leveraging government intervention to oppose the acquisition. Our prediction is supported by strong evidence that political affinity, as revealed by UN general assembly voting patterns, leads to lower initial acquisition premiums.

Managerial summary: Media reports suggest that politics plays an important role in international business transactions. However, we still know very little about how bilateral political relations affect corporate decision-making. In this article, we analyze the influence of the quality of bilateral political relations on the bidding behavior of foreign acquirers in cross-border acquisitions. We argue that the host government is more likely to intervene against the foreign acquirer during deal negotiations if the quality of bilateral political relations is poor. A lower political affinity between countries therefore decreases the bargaining power of the acquirer and pushes up the initial bid premium the acquirer has to offer to the local target. Our empirical results confirm our argument. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.