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Public-to-private buy-outs, distress costs and private equity.

Weir, Charlie; Wright, Mike; Scholes, Louise


Charlie Weir

Mike Wright

Louise Scholes


This article extends previous work by testing the financial distress costs hypothesis in the context of the UK, a contract-based distress resolution system, and by considering the role of private equity firms. Using a hand-collected dataset covering 115 public-to-private buy-outs (PTPs) completed in the period 1998 to 2001 and 115 randomly selected firms that remained public, we find contrasting evidence to that for US PTPs. Consistent with the financial distress costs model, firms going private are more likely to have better asset collateralization, have less debt and be more diversified. However, we also find that UK PTPs are more likely to be younger, experience poor stock market performance and be smaller than firms remaining public. In addition, PTPs did not have lower R&D or higher free cash flows. Our results therefore, indicate that in the UK financial distress costs may not be central to the decision to go private.We also find that private equity providers are more likely to be involved in the process if the firm going private is more diversified, has a higher Q ratio and had been quoted for a shorter period of time and have lower board shareholdings. This suggests that private equity providers are more interested in growth prospects than potential financial distress costs.


WEIR, C., WRIGHT, M. and SCHOLES, L. 2008. Public-to-private buy-outs, distress costs and private equity. Applied financial economics [online], 18(10), pages 801-819. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 3, 2008
Online Publication Date Jun 3, 2008
Publication Date Jun 30, 2008
Deposit Date Oct 17, 2016
Publicly Available Date Oct 17, 2016
Journal Applied financial economics
Print ISSN 0960-3107
Electronic ISSN 1466-4305
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 10
Pages 801-819
Keywords Public to private activity; Financial distress costs; Private equity provision
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