The recent controversy over "Don't Ask, Don't Waive" standstills in M&A practice highlights the need to apply mechanism design to change-of-control transactions. In this Article, we propose a novel two-stage auction procedure that induces honest bidding among participants while potentially yielding a higher sale price than an open ascending, a sealed-bid first price, or a Vickrey second-price auction. Our procedure balances deal certainty with value maximization through the Nobel Prize-winning principle of incentive compatibility, making participation in the M&A auction and honest disclosure of reservation prices in the parties' interests rather than relying solely on heavy-handed ex-post enforcement. Moreover, the social benefits of our two-stage auction mechanism – greater transparency regarding the distribution of bids, avoidance of the winner's curse, certainty in the M&A auction environment, and fairness to buyers and sellers – justify reduced judicial scrutiny of transactions utilizing the procedure under Revlon and Chancellor Strine's recent dicta in Ancestry.com.
Banking and Finance Law | Law | Securities Law
Steven J. Brams & Joshua Mitts,
Mechanism Design in M&A Auctions,
Del. J. Corp. L.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/faculty_scholarship/3033