"Appraising the 'Merger Price' Appraisal Rule"

Michigan Law Authors
Areas of Interest
Publish Date
Journal of Law, Economics and Organization
Publication Type
Journal Article

This paper develops an auction design framework to analyze various methods for assessing “fair value” in post-merger appraisal proceedings. Our inquiry spotlights an approach recently embraced by some courts benchmarking fair value against the merger price itself. We show that the merger price deference effectively nullifies the role that appraisal can potentially play in establishing a de facto reserve price for company auctions, thereby depressing both acquisition prices and target shareholders’ expected welfare relative to both the optimal appraisal policy and a variety of other valuation measures. We also examine conditions under which deference to the merger price may nonetheless be defensible on economic grounds. Our results have empirical implications for understanding appraisal, and they likewise help to inform doctrine by providing guidance to legal actors about when a sales process can be considered sufficiently “robust” to justify deal price deference.

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