The Secret to Paying Less for an Acquisition? More Female Board Members

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A new study finds that the more women on a corporate board, the less the company pays for acquisitions.

By Betsy Mikel (Contributing Writer, Women 2.0)

We’ve all heard rationalizations that supposedly explain why there are fewer female-led businesses and startups than those founded and led by men. One such claim is that by nature, women avoid risk.

But that tendency to avoid risky transactions can actually save a company money — a lot of it.

A new study conducted by University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business researchers found the more women a company has on its corporate board, the less they will pay for its acquisitions. In fact, the results found the cost of a successful acquisition is reduced by 15.4% per female director on a board. And each additional female board director reduces the number of a company’s attempted takeover bids by 7.6%.

“The prudence exhibited by women directors in negotiating mergers and acquisitions has had a substantial positive effect on maintaining firm value,” finance professor Kai Li, who co-authored the study, told Women 2.0.

The researchers analyzed a large sample of acquisition bids made by S&P 1500 companies between 1997 and 2009. To determine the cost of the acquisitions, they looked at the bid premium — the difference between stock price of the targeted firm before the deal and the final offer. The researchers then correlated these figures with the number of female directors on the corporate boards.

“This finding adds fire and force to recent calls to mandate a minimum number of women on the boards of publicly traded companies,” said Professor Li.

The study is titled “Director Gender and Mergers and Acquisitions” and was accepted for publication by the Journal of Corporate Finance in November 2013.

Do you think it’s necessary to require companies to have a minimum number of female board members?

Betsy Mikel is a freelance copywriter and content strategist who helps brands, businesses and entrepreneurs tell their stories. A journalist at heart, her curiosity drives her to find something new to learn every single day. Follow her on Twitter at @betsym.