What is In Play

In play refers to a firm that has become a potential takeover target or has put itself up for sale and may have multiple bidders. A company may initially only be rumored to be part of a potential merger or acquisition or a management buyout, at which point its shares may be referred to as deal stock with the share price becoming more volatile due to speculation. Once a bid for the firm is made, a company is put "in play" and may attract additional bidders.


When a firm becomes a potential takeover target, its share price may increase on the expectations the stock will trade at a premium before or at final purchase of outstanding shares. For example, in the late 1980s, management at RJR Nabisco made a bid to take the company private in the course of a hostile takeover attempt. This bid put the company in play, and the resulting bidding war elevated the offer ultimately approved by the RJR Nabisco board.