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Prof. Dr. Sönke Sievers

Prof. Dr. Sönke Sievers

Betriebswirtschaftslehre, insb. Internationale Rechnungslegung

Professor - Chair

+49 5251 60-3377
+49 5251 60-3878
Warburger Str. 100
33098 Paderborn

Open list in Research Information System


Green Deals Gain Steam

J. Kengelbach, G. Keienburg, T. Söllner, Y. Wang, S. Sievers, D. Friedmann, J. Nielsen, BCG M&A Report 2022 (2022)

Do Green Deals Create Value?

J. Kengelbach, D. Friedman, G. Keienburg, D. Degen, T. Söllner, Y. Wang, S. Sievers, BCG M&A Report 2022 (2022)


Can the market identify prosperous activist engagements? Evidence from announcement and long-term buy-and-hold returns

J. Hartmann, M. Pelster, S. Sievers, TAF Working Paper No. 66/January 2022, 2021

The pricing of acquired intangibles

W.R. Landsman, A. Liß, S. Sievers, TRR, 2021


How Private Equity can leverage downturn M&A for value creation

S. Sievers, D. Degen, D. Kim, J. Kengelbach, M&A Review Europe (2020)

What matters for organizing M&As successfully?

S. Sievers, S. Alexander, 2020, pp. 73

How is merger and acquisition (M&A) success associated with firm internal M&A process organization? The literature thus far acknowledges that unobservable internal firm characteristics are at least as important as observable firm- and deal-specific characteristics in regard to explaining M&A success. Thus, this paper directly asks M&A experts around the globe to shed more light on this important issue. We investigate three indices, capturing the degree of M&A 1) process standardization, 2) process duration, and 3) process attention. Next, we analyze the process participation among four organizational layers, i.e., the functional involvement of the a) top management team, b) headquarters, c) business unit management, and d) business unit functions. We predict and find that all three indices are positively associated with M&A success, while process standardization and attention to deal strategy are of particular importance. Turning to the four organizational layers, a textured analysis shows that, for instance, target valuation should be performed by the headquarters functions but not by the top management team or the business unit. Overall, our findings are important to better understand unexplored M&A success drivers and provide directions for future research. Finally, our results might help practitioners adjust their M&A process organization to further improve their M&A success.

Alternative Deals Gain Traction

S. Sievers, G. Keienburg, D. Degen, T. Söllner, A. Kashyrkin, The Boston Consulting Group, Inc., M&A Report, 2020

Downturn M&A: Die Erfolgsstrategie der Stunde?

S. Sievers, D. Degen, D. Kim, J. Kengelbach, M&A Review (2020), pp. 266-271

Co-movement of Price and Intrinsic Value-Does Accounting Information Matter?

O. Mehring, P. Olsson, S. Sievers, C. Sofilkanitsch, TRR, 2020

Paying for performance in private equity: Evidence from venture capital partnerships

N. Hüther, D.T. Robinson, S. Sievers, T. Hartmann-Wendels, Management Science (2020), 66(4), pp. 1756–1782


Paying for Performance in Private Equity: Evidence from Venture Capital Partnerships

N. Hüther, D.T. Robinson, S. Sievers, T. Hartmann-Wendels, Management Science (VHB-JOURQUAL 3 Ranking A+) (2019), 66(4), pp. 1756-1782

We offer the first empirical analysis connecting the timing of general partner (GP) compensation to private equity fund performance. Using detailed information on limited partnership agreements between private equity limited and general partners, we find that “GP-friendly” contracts—agreements that pay general partners on a deal-by-deal basis instead of withholding carried interest until a benchmark return has been earned—are associated with higher returns, both gross and net of fees. This is robust to measures of performance persistence, time period effects, and other contract terms and is related to exit-timing incentives. Timing practices balance GP incentives against limited partner downside protection.

Downturns Are a Better Time For Deal Hunting

S. Sievers, J. Kengelbach, G. Keienburg, M. Bader, D. Degen, J. Gell, J. Nielsen, The Boston Consulting Group, Inc., M&A Report, 2019

Wertgenerierung bei M&A Transaktionen durch Bekanntgabe von Synergien?

O. Mehring, S. Sievers, G. Keienburg, J. Kengelbach, Corporate Finance, 2019, pp. 76-84

Öffentlich gelistete Firmen, die die Mehrheit an anderen börsennotierten Unternehmen er-werben und den Kapitalmarkt an den Synergieerwartungen teilhaben lassen, werden mit höheren kumulativen abnormalen Renditen im Ankündigungszeitpunkt belohnt verglichen mit solchen Unternehmen, die diese geheim halten. Des Weiteren ist die empirische Evi-denz konsistent mit der Idee, dass diese Käuferunternehmen ihre Transaktionen besser in-tegrieren, weil auch die industrieadjustierten Ein- und Zweijahresrenditen der ankündigen-den Unternehmen ökonomisch und statistisch signifikant höher sind als die der zurückhal-tenden Käuferfirmen.

Non-GAAP Reporting and Investor Attention: Are Investors Misled by Exclusions of Recurring Expenses from Non-GAAP Earnings before Restatement Announcements?

J. Müller, S. Sievers, O. Mehring, C. Sofilkanitsch, 2019, pp. 65

Non-GAAP reporting is under debate as managers may opportunistically inflate non-GAAP earnings. By separating firms into groups based on exclusions of recurring expenses before material restatements occur this paper investigates whether market participants are misled based on ex-ante non-GAAP reporting. The results show a decline in cumulative abnormal returns (–11.8% aggressive non-GAAP Reporting vs. –2.7% non-aggressive non-GAAP reporting), reduction in overvaluation (–22.18% vs. no decline) and losses in the earnings response coefficient (–51.8% vs. no significant decline) for firms with prior aggressive non-GAAP reporting. Further, we document that investors are less responsive to aggressively reported non-GAAP earnings ex-post, indicating that increased attention enhances investor’s ability to see through the quality of non-GAAP exclusions.

Downturns are a better time for deal hunting

J. Kengelbach, G. Keienburg, J. Gell, J. Nielsen, M. Bader, D. Degen, S. Sievers, The 2019 M&A-Report (2019)


Synergies Take Center Stage

S. Sievers, G. Keienburg, T. Schmid, D. Degen, The Boston Consulting Group, Inc., M&A Report, 2018

Update on the M&A market entitled As Prices Peak, Should Dealmakers wait for the next Downturn?

S. Sievers, D. Degen, G. Keienburg, T. Schmid, J. Kengelbach, The Boston Consulting Group, Inc., M&A Report, 2018

Post on Paying for Performance in Private Equity: Evidence from VC Partnerships.

S. Sievers, D.T. Robinson, N. Hüther, T. Hartmann-Wendels, 2018

As Prices Peak, Should Dealmakers wait for the next Downturn?

J. Kengelbach, D. Degen, G. Keienburg, T. Schmid, S. Sievers, BCG-Report (2018)

Restrukturierungen: operative und finanzielle Wertbeiträge. Eine Betrachtung vor dem Hintergrund der Entwicklungen bei thyssenkrupp

S. Sievers, C. Sureth-Sloane, A. Uhde, Die Wirtschaftsprüfung (2018), 71(9), pp. 569-575

Restrukturierungen werden sowohl durch die Digitalisierung, aber auch durch klassische Themen – beispielsweise die Notwendigkeit von Umsatz- und Kostensynergien in kompetitiven Märkten – verstärkt vorangetrieben. Dieser Beitrag beleuchtet vor allem die Motive und Folgen aus wissenschaftlicher Perspektive, indem großzahlige empirische Befunde zu den Themen Beschäftigung, Finanzkennzahlen und Kapitalerhöhungen sowie steuerliche Motive prägnant zusammengefasst und im Kontext des geplanten Joint Ventures von thyssenkrupp und Tata Steel diskutiert werden.


Predicting Early Warning Signals of Financial Distress: Theory and Empirical Evidence

S. Sievers, J. Klobucnik, D. Miersch, 2017, pp. 84

This study proposes a simple theoretical framework that allows for assessing financial distress up to five years in advance. We jointly model financial distress by using two of its key driving factors: declining cash-generating ability and insufficient liquidity reserves. The model is based on stochastic processes and incorporates firm-level and industry-sector developments. A large-scale empirical implementation for US-listed firms over the period of 1980-2010 shows important improvements in the discriminatory accuracy and demonstrates incremental information content beyond state-of-the-art accounting and market-based prediction models. Consequently, this study might provide important ex ante warning signals for investors, regulators and practitioners.

The Technology Takeover

S. Sievers, J. Kengelbach, G. Keienburg, T. Schmid, K. Gjersta, J. Nielsen, D. Walker, The Boston Consulting Group, Inc., M&A Report, 2017


Loan Pricing: Do Borrowers Benefit from Cost-Efficient Banking?

S. Sievers, T. Schlüter, R. Busch, T. Hartmann-Wendels, Credit and Capital Markets – Kredit und Kapital (VHB-JOURQUAL 3 Ranking C) (2016), 49(1), pp. 93-125

This study examines the loan-pricing behavior of German banks for a large variety of retail and corporate loan products. We find that a bank’s operational efficiency is priced in bank loan rates and alters interest-setting behavior. Specifically, we establish that a higher degree of operational efficiency leads to lower loan markups, which makes prices more competitive and smoothes the setting of interest rates. By employing state-of-the-art stochastic frontier efficiency measures to capture a bank’s operational efficiency, we take a look at the bank customers’ perspective and demonstrate the extent to which borrowers benefit from cost-efficient banking.

Erfolgsfaktoren bei Mergers and Acquisitions – Warum schaffen Portfoliomaster mehr Value Added?

S. Sievers, O. Mehring, G. Keienburg, J. Kengelbach, Corporate Finance (VHB-JOURQUAL 3 Ranking D) (2016), 81(9), pp. 283-290

Unternehmen, die regelmäßig ihr Geschäftsfeldportfolio durch aktives M&A-Geschäft in Form von Verkäufen und Käufen steuern, erzielen deutlich bessere Ein- und Zweijahresrenditen für Aktionäre als alternative M&A-Strategien. Ursächlich hierfür ist u.a., dass die bekannten Effekte in Form von Abschlägen für z.B. diversifizierende Transaktionen oder Stock-Deals deutlich geringer ausfallen als bei Vergleichsgruppen wie z.B. One-Time-Deal Unternehmen. Dieser Beitrag analysiert die Gründe für den Erfolg von Portfoliomastern, Unternehmen die mehr als vier Deals in fünf Jahren durchführen. Durch ein professionalisiertes M&A-Management grenzen sie sich positiv in ihrer mittel- und langfristigen Renditeentwicklung gegenüber Strategic-Shiftern (zwei bis vier Deals) und One-Timern ab. Ihr Erfolg beruht darauf sowohl bei diversifizierenden als auch Stock-Deals bekannte übliche Performanceabschläge zu vermeiden und auch in volatilen Markphasen wertschaffende Deals umzusetzen.

Masters of the Corporate Portfolio

J. Kengelbach, G. Keienburg, T. Schmid, S. Sievers, O. Mehring, The Boston Consulting Group, Inc., M&A Report, 2016


Bank funding stability, pricing strategies and the guidance of depositors

T. Schlueter, S. Sievers, T. Hartmann-Wendels, Journal of Banking & Finance (VHB-JOURQUAL 3 Ranking A) (2015), 51, pp. 43-61

Banks face a 'behavioralization' of their balance sheets since deposit funding increasingly consists of non-maturing deposits with uncertain cash flows exposing banks to asset liability (ALM) risk. Thus, this study examines the behavior of banks’ retail customers regarding non-maturing deposits. Our unique sample comprises the contract and cash flow data for 2.2 million individual contracts from 1991 to 2010. We find that contractual rewards, i.e., qualified interest payments, and government subsidies, effectively stabilize saving behavior and thus bank funding. The probability of an early deposit withdrawal decreases by approximately 40%, and cash flow volatility drops by about 25%. Our findings provide important insights for banks using pricing incentives to steer desired saving patterns for their non-maturing deposit portfolios. Finally, these results are informative regarding the bank liquidity regulations (Basel III) concerning the stability of deposits and the minimum requirements for risk management (European Commission DIRECTIVE 2006/48/EC).


Determinants of market beta: the impacts of firm-specific accounting figures and market conditions

T. Schlueter, S. Sievers, Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting (VHB-JOURQUAL 3 Ranking B) (2013)(3), pp. 535-570

This article examines and extends research on the relation between the capital asset pricing model market beta, accounting risk measures and macroeconomic risk factors. We employ a beta decomposition approach that nests competing models with different business risk proxies and allows to frame cross-model comparison. Because model tests require estimated independent variables resulting in measurement error, we empirically estimate three comparable model specifications with instrumental variable estimators and for the first time provide thorough instrument diagnostics in this setting. Correcting for the heretofore neglected weak instruments problem we find that growth risk (i.e., the risk of firm sales variations that are inconsistent with the market wide trends), is the business risk that explains cross-sectional variations in market beta best.

Investment distortions and the value of the government's tax claim

D. Kreutzmann, S. Sievers, C. Mueller, Applied Financial Economics (VHB-JOURQUAL 3 Ranking C) (2013), 23(11), pp. 977-989

This study integrates the government in the context of company valuation. Our framework allows to analyze and to quantify the risk-sharing effects and conflicts of interest between the government and the shareholders when firms follow different financial policies. We provide novel evidence that firms with fixed future levels of debt might invest more than socially desirable. Economically, this happens if the gain in tax-shields is big enough to outweigh the loss in the unlevered firm value. Our findings have implications for the practice of investment subsidy programs provided by the government to avoid fostering investments beyond the socially optimal level.

Extended dividend, cash flow, and residual income valuation models: Accounting for deviations from ideal conditions

N. Heinrichs, D. Hess, C. Homburg, M. Lorenz, S. Sievers, Contemporary Accounting Research (VHB-JOURQUAL 3 Ranking A) (2013), 30(1), pp. 42-79

Standard equity valuation approaches (i.e., DDM, RIM, and DCF model) are derived under the assumption of ideal conditions, such as infinite payoffs and clean surplus accounting. Because these conditions are hardly ever met, we extend the standard approaches, based on the fundamental principle of financial statement articulation. The extended models are then tested empirically by employing two sets of forecasts: (1) analyst forecasts provided by Value Line and (2) forecasts generated by cross-sectional regression models. The main result is that our extended models yield considerably smaller valuation errors. Moreover, by construction, identical value estimates are obtained across the extended models. By reestablishing empirical equivalence under non-ideal conditions, our approach provides a benchmark that enables us to quantify the errors resulting from individual deviations from ideal conditions, and thus, to analyze the robustness of the standard approaches. Finally, by providing a level playing field for the different valuation approaches, our findings have implications for other empirical settings, for example, estimating the implied cost of capital.

The relevance of financial versus non-financial information for the valuation of venture capital-backed firms

S. Sievers, C.F. Mokwa, G. Keienburg, European Accounting Review (VHB-JOURQUAL 3 Ranking A) (2013), 22(3), pp. 467-511

This study examines the relevance of financial and non-financial information for the valuation of venture capital (VC) investments. Based on a hand-collected data set on venture-backed start-ups in Germany, we investigate the internal due diligence documents of over 200 investment rounds. We document that balance sheet and income statement items capture as much economic content as verifiable non-financial information (e.g. team experience or the number of patents) while controlling for several deal characteristics (e.g. industry, investment round, or yearly VC fund inflows). In addition, we show that valuations based on accounting and non-accounting information yield a level of valuation accuracy that is comparable to that of publicly traded firms. Further analyses show that the industry-specific total asset multiples outperform the popular revenue multiples but lead to significantly less accurate results than those obtained from the more comprehensive valuation models. Overall, our findings might inform researchers and standard-setters of the usefulness of accounting information for investment companies and provide additional evidence to gauge the overall valuation accuracy in VC settings.

Valuing high technology growth firms

J. Klobucnik, S. Sievers, Journal of Business Economics (VHB-JOURQUAL 3 Ranking B) (2013), 83(9), pp. 947-984

For the valuation of fast growing innovative firms Schwartz and Moon (Financ Anal J 56:62–75, 2000), (Financ Rev 36:7–26, 2001) develop a fundamental valuation model where key parameters follow stochastic processes. While prior research shows promising potential for this model, it has never been tested on a large scale dataset. Thus, guided by economic theory, this paper is the first to design a large-scale applicable implementation on around 30,000 technology firm quarter observations from 1992 to 2009 for the US to assess this model. Evaluating the feasibility and performance of the Schwartz-Moon model reveals that it is comparably accurate to the traditional sales multiple with key advantages in valuing small and non-listed firms. Most importantly, however, the model is able to indicate severe market over- or undervaluation from a fundamental perspective. We demonstrate that a trading strategy based on our implementation has significant investment value. Consequently, the model seems suitable for detecting misvaluations as the dot-com bubble.

Die erfolgreiche Bindung des Sparers an die Bank

S. Sievers, T. Schlüter, T. Hartmann-Wendels. Die erfolgreiche Bindung des Sparers an die Bank. 2013.

Wie Banken Kostenvorteile weitergeben

S. Sievers, T. Hartmann-Wendels, R. Busch, T. Schlüter. Wie Banken Kostenvorteile weitergeben. 2013.


Biases in Management Forecasts of Venture-Backed Start-Ups: Evidence from Internal Due Diligence Documents of VC Investors

S. Sievers, C.F. Mokwa, 2012, pp. 42

This study provides evidence of significant biases in multi-year management forecasts by analyzing a proprietary dataset on venture-backed start-ups in Germany. We find that revenues and expenses are highly overestimated in each of the investigated one- to five-year-ahead planning periods. Furthermore, entrepreneurs underestimate one-year-ahead profit forecasts but clearly overestimate their profit forecasts for all longer-term forecast horizons. Additional analyses reveal that teams with prior management experience issue even more overestimated forecasts and misrepresent their forward-looking information. In contrast, greater asset verifiability and corporate lead investors are associated with lower levels of forecast errors. All key results hold if bias is either measured by traditionally comparing forecasts to ex-post realizations or by using a cross-sectional projection approach based on historical accounting data developed by prior research.

The Relevance of Biases in Management Forecasts for Failure Prediction in Venture Capital Investments

S. Sievers, C.F. Mokwa, 2012, pp. 31

This study shows how venture capital investors can identify potential biases in multi-year management forecasts before an investment decision and derive significantly more accurate failure predictions. By advancing a cross-sectional projection method developed by prior research and using firm-specific information in financial statements and business plans, we derive benchmarks for management revenue forecasts. With these benchmarks, we estimate forecast errors as an a priori measure of biased expectations. Using this measure for our proprietary dataset on venture-backed start-ups in Germany, we find evidence of substantial upward forecast biases. We uncover that firms with large forecast errors fail significantly more often than do less biased entrepreneurs in years following the investment. Overall, our results highlight the implications of excessive optimism and overconfidence in entrepreneurial environments and emphasize the relevance of accounting information and business plans for venture capital investment decisions.

To buy or not to buy? The value of contradictory analyst signals

S. Kanne, J. Klobucnik, D. Kreutzmann, S. Sievers, Financial Markets and Portfolio Management (VHB-JOURQUAL 3 Ranking C) (2012), 26(4), pp. 405-428

We study the predictive ability of individual analyst target price changes for post-event abnormal stock returns within each recommendation category. Although prior studies generally demonstrate the investment value of target prices, we find that target price changes do not cause abnormal returns within each recommendation level. Instead, contradictory analyst signals (e.g., strong buy reiterations with large target price decreases) neutralize each other, whereas confirmatory signals reinforce each other. Further, our analysis reveals that large target price downgrades can be explained by preceding stock price decreases. However, upgrades are not preceded by stock price increases, thereby demonstrating asymmetric analyst behavior when adjusting target prices to stock prices. Our results suggest that investors should treat recommendations with caution when they are issued with large contradictory target price changes. Thus, instead of blindly following a recommendation, investors might put more weight on the change in the corresponding target price and consider transaction costs.


Unternehmensbewertung in Deutschland:  Verfahren, Finanzplanung und Kapitalkostenermittlung

S. Sievers, C. Homburg, M. Lorenz, Controlling & Management Review (VHB-JOURQUAL 3 Ranking D) (2011)


Adverse selection, investor experience and security choice in venture capital finance: evidence from Germany

T. Hartmann-Wendels, G. Keienburg, S. Sievers, European Financial Management (VHB-JOURQUAL 3 Ranking B) (2011), 17(3), pp. 464-499

This article analyses 336 German venture capital transactions from 1990 to 2005 and seeks to determine why selected financial securities differ across deals. We find that a broad array of financial instruments is used, covering straight equity, mezzanine and debt‐like securities. Based on the chosen financial securities’ upside potential and downside protection characteristics, we provide an explanation for the differing use of these securities. Our results show that investors’ deal experience, adverse selection risks and economic prospects in the public equity market influence the selection of financial securities.

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