Share repurchases of initial public offerings: Motives, valuation effects, and the impact of market regulation

European Journal of Finance | 01/2014


This study investigates the motives and valuation effects of share repurchase announcements of German firms during the 1998–2008 period, addressing the question why initial public offering (IPO) firms repurchase shares soon after going public. While our focus is on IPO firms, we also examine the impact of firm size by differentiating between IPO and established DAX/MDAX firms and by analyzing the source of surplus cash holdings, that is, either from equity issuances or from operating cash flows. We further explore the impact of the regulatory environment. Our empirical analysis reveals significant differences between the IPO and DAX/MDAX subsamples regarding their repurchase motives, stock price performance, and explanatory factors. Standard corporate payout theories are essential in explaining the different valuation effects. Our empirical analysis suggests agency costs of free cash flow as the main reason for the observed valuation effects of both IPO and DAX/MDAX firms, yet for different reasons. While DAX/MDAX firms continuously generate high operating cash flows before and after repurchasing shares, IPO firms exhibit low operating cash flows during the entire period but large surplus cash holdings due to the mandatory equity issuance at their public offering. Overall, the repurchase decisions of IPO firms are best explained by the agency costs of cash holdings and the unique rules and regulations of the German stock exchange.