The John M. Olin Center

Paper Abstract

248. L. A. Bebchuk and M. Kahan, The "Lemons Effect" in Corporate Freeze-Outs, 1/99; subsequently published as "Adverse Selection and Gains to Controllers in Corporate Freezeouts" in Concentrated Corporate Ownership, R. Morck, ed., (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), Chapter 8, 247-259.

Abstract: In a corporate freeze-out, the controller is required to compensate minority shareholders for the no-freezeout value of their shares that are taken from them. This paper seeks to highlight the difficulties involved in determining this no-freezeout value when, as is often the case, the controller has private information. In particular, the analysis shows that the pre-freezeout market price of minority shares cannot be used as a proxy for the no-freezeout value that these shares would have in the absence of a freeze-out. It is shown that, under a regime in which frozen out minority shareholders receive a compensation equal to the pre-freezeout market price, the pre-freezeout market price will be set at a level below the expected no-freezeout value of minority shares. The reason for this is a "lemons effect" that arises when a controller uses her private information in deciding whether to effect a freeze-out. By showing how controllers are able to use their private information to effect freeze-outs at terms favorable to them, this paper demonstrates that freeze-outs can become a significant source for private benefits of control.

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