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We explore whether employee interests affect the evaluation of acquisition offers by target boards of directors. Exploiting changes in state unemployment insurance (UI) as sources of exogenous variation in worker unemployment costs, we find that lower unemployment costs increase acquisition activity. Adoption of state constituency statutes strengthens this relation. Boards of target firms having high labor intensity, low short-term institutional ownership, headquartered in low population or high social capital counties, and with female independent directors, more often strongly weight employee interests. Higher UI levels are also associated with larger post-acquisition layoffs. Our evidence supports theories rationalizing target boards’ consideration of employee interests.

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