Scorched Earth Policy

AAA

DEFINITION of 'Scorched Earth Policy'

A takeover prevention strategy in which the target company seeks to make itself less attractive to hostile bidders by selling off assets, taking on high levels of debt or initiating other activities that may damage the company if it is purchased. In extreme cases, a scorched earth policy might end up being a “suicide pill.”

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Scorched Earth Policy'

Companies using a scorched earth policy are engaging in a last ditch effort. The policy is similar to how a retreating army may destroy crops and infrastructure to prevent their use by invaders. If the target company goes through with selling off important assets, it may wind up unable to recover if a hostile takeover falls through. Rather than sell assets or take on debt today, the company may instead enact provisions that provide senior management with substantial payouts, such as golden parachutes, if a new management team is brought on.

If a takeover is imminent, the board of directors may not be able to go through with a scorched earth policy if it is not in the best interest of shareholders. The hostile company may look for an injunction against the board’s activities, and in some jurisdictions may be able to prevent the board from stopping the takeover bid. For example, a steel company may threaten to purchase a manufacturer embroiled in lawsuits from making poor quality parts. In this case, the target company is purchasing the future liabilities associated with any lawsuit settlement.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Management Buyout - MBO

    A transaction where a company’s management team purchases the ...
  2. Sandbag

    A tactic used to hide or limit expectations of a company's or ...
  3. Saturday Night Special

    An obsolete takeover strategy where one company attempted a takeover ...
  4. Busted Takeover

    A highly leveraged corporate buyout that is contingent upon the ...
  5. Suicide Pill

    A defensive strategy by which a target company engages in an ...
  6. Sleeping Beauty

    A company that is considered prime for takeover, but has not ...
Related Articles
  1. Bonds & Fixed Income

    War's Influence On Wall Street

    Blitzkrieg? Dawn raids? Sounds like the markets and the battlefield have a few things in common.
  2. Fundamental Analysis

    Mergers And Acquisitions: Understanding Takeovers

    In the dramatic world of M&As, battleground terms meld with bizarre metaphors to form the language of the game.
  3. Stock Analysis

    Breaking Down the Halliburton Baker Hughes Deal

    Halliburton is using a downturn to get bigger and stronger in the long term, and the company is getting Baker Hughes at a reasonable price as a result.
  4. Brokers

    Key Differences Between M&A Advisors And Business Brokers

    For a buy, sale or partnership for one's business, one needs brokers and advisors to proceed ahead. Here are the key differences between business brokers and M&A advisors.
  5. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
    Professionals

    What is a SWOT Analysis?

    SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. SWOT analysis is a management tool used to identify strategies for success. It may be used to guide individual thinking, group ...
  6. Trading Strategies

    Selecting Mergers & Acquisitions Advisories For Small Businesses

    Mergers and acquisitions advisories aren't just for big players. Many advisory firms cater to small and medium businesses.
  7. Investing

    M&A Advisory Business Boutiques: How The Small Shops Are Capturing Large M&A Deals

    M&A advisory boutiques are becoming a big business, giving large investment banks a run for their money.
  8. Chart Advisor

    This ETF Offers Easy Access To Big Pharma

    Pharma investing isn't for everyone, but sector-specific ETFs, such as the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Pharmaceuticals ETF, have started to change the game.
  9. Investing

    The Top Reasons Why M&A Deals Fail

    A significant number of M&A transactions result in failure. Here are the top reasons, with examples, of why it happens.
  10. Investing Basics

    What Merger And Acquisition Firms Do

    The merger or acquisition process can be intimidating. This is why merger and acquisition firms step in to facilitate the process.

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Deferred Revenue

    Advance payments or unearned revenue, recorded on the recipient's balance sheet as a liability, until the services have been ...
  2. Multinational Corporation - MNC

    A corporation that has its facilities and other assets in at least one country other than its home country. Such companies ...
  3. SWOT Analysis

    A tool that identifies the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of an organization. Specifically, SWOT is a basic, ...
  4. Simple Interest

    A quick method of calculating the interest charge on a loan. Simple interest is determined by multiplying the interest rate ...
  5. Special Administrative Region - SAR

    Unique geographical areas with a high degree of autonomy set up by the People's Republic of China. The Special Administrative ...
  6. Annual Percentage Rate - APR

    The annual rate that is charged for borrowing (or made by investing), expressed as a single percentage number that represents ...
Trading Center