There are some elements to think about when choosing the form of payment. When submitting an offer, the acquiring firm should consider other potential bidders and think strategic. The form of payment might be decisive for the seller. With pure cash deals, there is no doubt on the real value of the bid (without considering an eventual earnout). The contingency of the share payment is indeed removed. Thus, a cash offer preempts competitors better than securities. Taxes are a second element to consider and should be evaluated with the counsel of competent tax and accounting advisers. Third, with a share deal the buyer’s capital structure might be affected and the control of the New co modified. If the issuance of shares is necessary, shareholders of the acquiring company might prevent such capital increase at the general meeting of shareholders. The risk is removed with a cash transaction. Then, the balance sheet of the buyer will be modified and the decision maker should take into account the effects on the reported financial results. For example, in a pure cash deal (financed from the company’s current account), liquidity ratios might decrease. On the other hand, in a pure stock for stock transaction (financed from the issuance of new shares), the company might show lower profitability ratios (e.g. ROA). However, economic dilution must prevail towards accounting dilution when making the choice. The form of payment and financing options are tightly linked. If the buyer pays cash, there are three main financing options:
- Cash on hand: it consumes financial slack (excess cash or unused debt capacity) and may decrease debt rating. There are no major transaction costs.
- Issue of debt: it consumes financial slack, may decrease debt rating and increase cost of debt. Transaction costs include underwriting or closing costs of 1% to 3% of the face value.
- Issue of stock: it increases financial slack, may improve debt rating and reduce cost of debt. Transaction costs include fees for preparation of a proxy statement, an extraordinary shareholder meeting and registration.
If the buyer pays with stock, the financing possibilities are:
- Issue of stock (same effects and transaction costs as described above).
- Shares in treasury: it increases financial slack (if they don’t have to be repurchased on the market), may improve debt rating and reduce cost of debt. Transaction costs include brokerage fees if shares are repurchased in the market otherwise there are no major costs.
In general, stock will create financial flexibility. Transaction costs must also be considered but tend to have a greater impact on the payment decision for larger transactions. Finally, paying cash or with shares is a way to signal value to the other party, e.g.: buyers tend to offer stock when they believe their shares are overvalued and cash when undervalued.