One of the major sources of inefficiencies in M&A transactions is the asymmetry of information between the bidder and the target. Several disclosure strategies are used by bidders to convince target shareholders to tender their shares but also to convince their own shareholders about the value of the proposed deal. Target managers also try to communicate to their shareholders their appreciation of the offer. To add credibility to this communication, experts are often called on to express an independent opinion on the offer price, in a document called the Fairness Opinion (FO). While FOs have been found to have no effect on deal efficiency in the US, this study re-examines the issue by considering the actual content of the document, in terms of the valuation process that leads to the expert opinion, in the context of Italian M&As where FOs are mostly voluntary and often provide detailed information about target valuation. The results show that even in a setting where weak enforcement of disclosure regulations allows bidders and targets to choose the level and detail of disclosure, the quality of the content of FO has only a weak association with the performance of the deal, both in terms of bidder announcement returns and of post-deal market and operating performance.
Keywords: Mergers and acquisition, fairness opinion, firm valuation methods.
Jel Code: G14, G34, D82, M41