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The effects of corporate spin-offs on productivity

Thomas Chemmanur, Karthik Krishnan and Debarshi Nandy

Journal of Corporate Finance, 2014, vol. 27, issue C, 72-98

Abstract: Using a unique sample of plant level data from the Longitudinal Research Database of the U.S. Census Bureau, which enables us to correctly identify the parent and spun-off entities prior to spin-offs, we establish that efficiency improves following spin-offs. A spin-off refers to the separation of the management of some assets of a firm into a separate entity (which we term as the spun-off entity or subsidiary). We investigate the underlying mechanisms and the real effects of spin-offs after correcting for potential endogenous selection using treatment effect estimators and propensity score matching in our analysis. We identify how (the precise channel and mechanism), where (parent or subsidiary), and when (the dynamic pattern) efficiency improvements arise following spin-offs. We show that spin-offs increase total factor productivity (TFP) and that such productivity improvements are long-lived. This post spin-off productivity improvement can be attributed to cost savings but not to higher sales. Further, such improvements arise primarily in plants remaining with the parent. However, contrary to speculation in the previous literature, we show that plants that are spun-off do not underperform parent plants prior to the spin-off. We identify acquisitions following spin-offs and find that while productivity improvements occur immediately after the spin-off in non-acquired plants, they start only after being taken over by another firm in acquired plants. Finally, we show that unrelated spun-off entities show greater improvements in productivity compared to related spun-off entities.

Keywords: Spin-offs; Restructuring; Endogenous selection; Total factor productivity (TFP) (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: G30 G34 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jcorpfin.2014.04.005

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