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WHY ISSUE TRACKING STOCK? INSIGHTS FROM A COMPARISON WITH SPIN‐OFFS AND CARVE‐OUTS

Thomas Chemmanur and Imants Paeglis

Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, 2001, vol. 14, issue 2, 102-114

Abstract: In recent years, tracking stocks, which amount to a new form of corporate restructuring, have been gaining in popularity. In 1999 alone, 17 companies announced new tracking stock issues, and by February 2000 there were 40 tracking stocks trading in the U.S. equity markets. Why have tracking stocks become so popular in recent years? In this article, the authors present new evidence on the effectiveness of tracking stock issues in creating shareholder value as compared to the record of two other closely related forms of corporate restructuring—spin‐offs and equity carve‐outs. The authors find that the parents and subsidiaries of tracking‐stock firms are more “related” than those that undertake the other two forms of corporate restructuring, that there is a positive announcement effect (similar in size to that of spin‐offs but greater than that of equity carve‐outs) on stock prices, and that the number of analysts following the firm increases following the issuance of tracking stock. These findings are interpreted as suggesting that the main corporate motives for issuing tracking stock are the valuation benefits from providing investors with more information about the newly listed subsidiary, while at the same time preserving the existing synergies between the business units involved. This maintenance of existing synergies, however, appears to have come at a significant price. Under the tracking stock structure, there seem to be no benefits attributable, as in the case of spin‐offs, to improvements in corporate governance. While spinoffs significantly increase the probability that the parents or subsidiaries will later be taken over (with its disciplining effect on management), there is no such increase in takeover probability for firms issuing tracking stock. Consistent with this difference, the authors find that the market‐adjusted two‐year holding period return for tracking stock parents and subsidiaries is significantly lower than the corresponding return for spinoffs and their corporate parents.

Date: 2001
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