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Diversification, Refocusing and Firm Value


  • I am grateful to my dissertation chair, Toni Whited, and my dissertation committee members, Matt Billett, Tom Rietz, Paul Weller, and Charles Whiteman for their support and helpful discussions. Thanks also to the editor, John Doukas, and an anonymous referee. Simon Lee, Mattias Nilsson, Jay Wellman, Janis Zvingelis, and the participants in the seminars at FMA Europe Stockholm Conference, Wichita State University, and University of Iowa provided valuable comments and suggestions. All errors and omissions are my responsibility.


At any point in time a firm faces three restructuring choices: diversify, refocus, or do nothing. This study analyses the causes and the consequences of these actions in a unified framework using the appropriate methodologies. Various factors, such as firm's characteristics and multinational nature, its industry's characteristics, its exchange and index inclusion, and divested (or acquired) segment(s)' industry conditions, are considered as the determinants of the diversifying and the refocusing decisions. The estimation results from the corresponding multinomial logit model suggest that refocusing occurs generally due to firm-specific reasons, and diversification due to outside factors, such as industry and economic conditions. Added or dropped segment's industry profitability, its relationship to the core business of the firm, and its relatedness to the businesses of the conglomerate's other segments have a nontrivial effect on either decision. In a related analysis, the paper explicitly models and estimates the valuation consequences that are sustained by the firm after it undertakes a refocusing or a diversification action. To isolate the changes in firm's value that are due to these decisions only, a 2SLS estimation is used to control for endogeneity that arises because the factors that affect a firm's value are likely to have also induced the firm to make the corresponding decision. The novelty of my approach is in its inclusion of variables measuring the consequences due to both actions, the diversification and the refocusing, in the same valuation equation. Contrary to some earlier findings, I find no evidence of ‘diversification discount’ or ‘refocusing premium.’ The choice of this paper to analyse all corporate restructuring decisions in a unified framework yields valuable business insights into the reasons for undertaking such corporate events.