Responding to activist short sellers: Allegations, firm responses, and outcomes

Abstract

This study provides descriptive evidence on how firms respond to activist short seller reports and how these responses are associated with outcomes for the targeted firms. We show that the frequency of these reports has grown substantially in recent years. Although we find that firms respond only 31% of the time, this rate increases substantially when the report is accompanied by significantly negative abnormal returns and when the report contains new evidence. Not responding is associated with a less negative stock price response at report release and fewer adverse outcomes. Firms that launch internal investigations following the report release have significantly higher subsequent rates of stock exchange delisting and SEC enforcement actions, and lower rates of being acquired. Overall, our results highlight the impact of activist short sellers on target firms and that firm responses are associated with material outcomes.

Beteiligte Institutionen

Die Hauptstandorte vom TRR 266 sind die Universität Paderborn (Sprecherhochschule), die HU Berlin und die Universität Mannheim. Alle drei Standorte sind seit vielen Jahren Zentren für Rechnungswesen- und Steuerforschung. Hinzu kommen Wissenschaftler der LMU München, der Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, der WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, der ESMT Berlin, der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt und der Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, die die gleiche Forschungsagenda verfolgen.