Article | Journal of Financial Economics | October 2012

The Effect of Reference Point Prices on Mergers and Acquisitions

by Malcolm Baker, Xin Pan and Jeffrey Wurgler


Prior stock price peaks of targets affect several aspects of merger and acquisition activity. Offer prices are biased toward recent peak prices although they are economically unremarkable. An offer's probability of acceptance jumps discontinuously when it exceeds a peak price. Conversely, bidder shareholders react more negatively as the offer price is influenced upward toward a peak. Merger waves occur when high returns on the market and likely targets make it easier for bidders to offer a peak price. Parties thus appear to use recent peaks as reference points or anchors to simplify the complex tasks of valuation and negotiation.

Keywords: Mergers and Acquisitions; Stocks; Price; Valuation; Negotiation;


Baker, Malcolm, Xin Pan, and Jeffrey Wurgler. "The Effect of Reference Point Prices on Mergers and Acquisitions." Journal of Financial Economics 106, no. 1 (October 2012): 49–71.