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Key Finding

We argue that while common ownership softens competition more than cross-ownership, it may lead to conflict among shareholders


This paper examines the problem of a blockholder who controls a firm and seeks to acquire a noncontrolling stake in a rival company. The blockholder can either purchase the stake directly using personal funds or indirectly, through the firm he controls. The first option results in a pattern of common ownership, while the second leads to cross-ownership. We show that common ownership reduces competition intensity more effectively than cross-ownership and allows the blockholder to retain the benefits of the acquisition without sharing them with minority shareholders. However, this may create conflicts of interest with those shareholders, whereas cross-ownership always maintains an alignment of interests. Consequently, the blockholder may prefer cross-ownership if control over his company is not secure and could be challenged by minority shareholders.

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