by Lucian Arye Bebchuck, Harvard Law School and National Bureau of Economic Research; Alma Cohen, National Bureau of Economic Research
Abstract: This paper empirically investigates the decisions of publicly traded firms where to incorporate. We study the features of states that make them attractive to incorporating firms and the characteristics of firms that determine whether they incorporate in or out of their state of location. We find that states that offer stronger anti takeover protections are substantially more successful both in retaining in-state firms and in attracting out-of-state incorporations. We estimate that, compared with adopting no anti takeover statutes, adopting all standard anti takeover statutes enabled the states that adopted them to more than double the percentage of local firms that incorporated in-state (from 23% to 49%). Indeed, the incorporation market has not even penalized the three states that passed two extreme antitakeover statutes that have been widely viewed as detrimental to shareholders. We also find that there is commonly a big difference between a state's ability to attract incorporations from firms located in and out of the state, and we investigate several possible explanations for this home-state advantage. Finally, we find that Delaware's dominance is greater than has been recognized and can be expected to increase further in the future. Our findings have significant implications for corporate governance, regulatory competition, and takeover law.