Protection of domestic bank ownership in France and Germany : the functional equivalency of institutional diversity in takeovers

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We investigate the character of the market for corporate control (i.e. takeovers) in French and German banking. The key feature of this character is the marked ability of French and German banks to resist unsolicited takeover bids, especially - although not exclusively- those from foreign competitors. We present an institutional perspective to account for the restrained character of takeovers in French and German banking. Our perspective is composed of two elements. First, institutional arrangements are important since they structure power relations among firm stakeholders by providing opportunities, as well as imposing constraints, to influence the decision-making process in which takeover transactions take place. Second, institutional arrangements provide firm stakeholders with several potential opportunities, not just one, to block unsolicited bids since takeover contests are composed of sequences of decisions for which approval is needed at each stage. French and German banks have used different mixes of institutional arrangements, themselves located at different stages of takeover transactions, to secure restrained markets for corporate control. Our institutional analysis, in turn, also illustrates an important shortcoming of banking sector protectionism, namely the contribution of protection from unsolicited takeover bids to the building of banks carrying systemic risks.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)790-819
JournalReview of International Political Economy
Issue number4
Early online date25 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2014


  • institutions, banks, complex causation, varieties of capitalism, takeovers, state intervention/regulation