Tax Aggressiveness and Shareholder Wealth: Evidence from Mergers and Acquisitions
Chow, Ka Chung
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In this dissertation, I examine two related questions on whether and how tax aggressiveness of firms is associated with shareholder wealth in a new context – mergers and acquisitions (M&A). The first study investigates whether and how the tax aggressiveness of the acquirers and targets affects shareholder wealth. I present the idea of tax aggressiveness transfer whereby the acquirer’s propensity for tax planning applies to its target’s tax function after the change in ownership. I measure the degree of tax aggressiveness transfer using the relative tax aggressiveness of the acquirer and target (i.e., the difference in tax aggressiveness between the two firms). I find that acquisitions of more tax aggressive targets by less tax aggressive acquirers generate significantly lower acquisition gains. I also document weaker evidence that acquisitions of less tax aggressive targets by more tax aggressive acquirers generate higher acquisition gains. That is, the results suggest that the shareholder wealth effects of tax aggressiveness transfer are driven by the value-destroying effect of decreases in tax aggressiveness. Cross-sectional analyses reveal that the acquirer’s governance is a significant determinant of the shareholder wealth effects of tax aggressiveness transfer. Specifically, the results indicate that, when acquirers are well-governed, acquisitions of targets with lower tax aggressiveness by acquirers with higher tax aggressiveness are value-enhancing. Similarly, acquisitions of targets with higher tax aggressiveness by acquirers with lower tax aggressiveness are value-destroying. These findings are robust to various measures of tax aggressiveness. In sum, I find that tax aggressiveness transfer is a significant determinant of value creation or destruction in M&A. The second study is devoted to studying whether and how the target’s participation of tax shelters – an extreme form of tax aggressiveness – matters in acquirer’s valuation of the target firm. Using a novel dataset that identifies targets’ non-participation in tax shelters, I find that the target’s non-sheltering status is associated with a higher takeover premium, indicating that acquirers reward targets for not engaging in tax sheltering. This positive association is stronger for targets that are more opaque and for acquirers that are less tax aggressive. In addition, I find that the target’s non-sheltering status is positively associated with acquirer returns for acquirers that are weakly governed and for targets that are more opaque. Overall, my findings suggest that the target’s non-sheltering status is relevant in acquirers’ valuation of the target, and that the valuation benefits of the target’s non-participation in tax shelters are mainly accrued to the target’s own shareholders rather than to those of the acquiring firm.