The well-documented failure of the majority of acquisitions to create value is often identified in popular discussion with hostile acquisitions, whereas friendly acquirers seem to get a friendly press. The relative performance of friendly and hostile acquirers therefore warrants a rigorous empirical investigation. Clear evidence of superior value creation in hostile over friendly acquisitions allows us to judge the efficacy of the market for corporate control. In this article we examine the long-term shareholder wealth performance of four types of acquirers – friendly bidder, hostile bidder, white knight and hostile bidder facing a white knight or another hostile bidder. For a sample of 519 acquisitions of UK target firms during 1983–1995, we estimated the three-year post-acquisition gains to acquirer shareholders and found that hostile acquirers deliver significantly higher shareholder value than friendly acquirers. We found that friendly acquirers with high stock-market ratings destroyed more value than hostile acquirers with a similar rating. Friendly acquirer top managers suffered greater job losses than those of hostile acquirers, perhaps paying the price for their inferior value-creation performance. Our study provides evidence of the superior value-creation performance of hostile acquirers and makes the case against takeover regulatory rules that may impede hostile takeovers.