Delegated Bidding and the Allocative Effect of Alternative Accounting Rules

Delegated Bidding and the Allocative Effect of Alternative Accounting Rules

Management Science. July
2017, Vol. 63, Issue 7, Pages 2181-2196

This paper studies the efficiency and distributive effects of three prominent accounting methods in auction settings when bidders’ incentives are linked to accounting income. The purchase price method (PP) requires the acquirer to book the acquisition at historical cost, thereby underestimating the asset value by the amount of the acquirer’s surplus in the transaction. The exit value method (EV) is downward biased and forces the acquirer to book an accounting loss on the date of acquisition. EV connects otherwise independent valuations inducing a reporting-based winner’s curse and can even lead to fire-sale-like values. Relative to PP, EV implies lower asset prices, a decrease (increase) in the surplus of the seller (acquirer), and an increase in the probability that the asset attains its best use when the market is sufficiently competitive. Finally, I examine an alternative method in which the asset is valued at its perceived value-in-use (VU). Under this method, the acquirer bids more aggressively to increase perceived value-in-use, leading to a shift of surplus from the acquirer to the seller. Yet VU is unbiased and always maximizes the probability that the asset attains its best use.