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우회상장 부실화에 대한 연구

  • 김준석 자본시장연구원 연구위원
  • 박영규 가톨릭대학교 경영학부 부교수
  • 이석훈 자본시장연구원 연구위원
본 연구는 비상장기업(펄기업)이 상장기업(셸기업)의 경영권을 인수함으로써 상장기업 지위를 획득하는 우회상장의 부실화 요인을 분석한다. 배임?횡령 등 투자자보호 문제의 발생, 관리종목지정, 상장폐지를 포괄적으로 부실화로 정의하여 우회상장의 성과를 정성적 관점에서 평가하며, 펄기업과 셸기업의 재무적 특성뿐만 아니라 셸기업의 기업지배구조 및 공시정보의 특성을 함께 고려하여 부실화의 원인을 파악한다. 2006년 7월부터 2010년 6월까지 코스닥시장에서 발생한 104건의 우회상장 사례를 198건의 정규상장 사례와 비교분석하여 다음과 같은 결과를 확인하였다. 첫째, 국내 우회상장은 규모가 작고, 수익성이 낮으며, 정보비대칭이 큰 비상장기업과, 규모가 작고, 최대주주 지분율이 낮으며, 사업성과가 부진한 상장기업의 비관련 결합이 상당수를 차지하는 것으로 나타난다. 둘째, 우회상장기업은 정규상장기업에 비해 투자자보호 문제와 상장폐지가 빈번하게 발생하며, 셸기업의 최대주주 지분율이 낮을수록, 지배구조 변경이 잦을수록 그 빈도는 더 높게 나타난다. 셋째, 우회상장 공시일 전후에는 높은 양(+)의 초과수익률이 발생하나, 우회상장 지정일 이후 모두 상쇄되어 사라지는 것으로 확인된다. 특히, 펄기업의 우회상장 직전 수익성이 높을수록 우회상장 지정일 이후의 누적초과 수익률이 더욱 낮아지는 것으로 나타난다. 이러한 분석결과는 국내 우회상장이 기업결합을 통한 시너지 창출보다는 상장지위의 손쉬운 획득과 상장폐지의 모면에 초점이 맞춰져 있으며, 셸기업의 취약한 기업지배구조 및 기업결합 과정의 비효율성과 결합되어 조기 부실화로 이어지고 있음을 보여주고 있다.
우회상장; 역합병; 기업공개; 공시; 부실기업; Backdoor listing; Reverse Merger; IPO; Corporate Disclosure; Distress

Analysis on Dysfunction of the Backdoor Listing in Korea

  • Joon-Seok Kim
  • Youngkyu Park
  • Seokhoon Lee
In a backdoor listing, often called a “reverse merger,” an unlisted or “pearl” company obtains listed status by acquiring management control of a listed or “shell” company. Such backdoor listings provide unlisted companies with synergistic mergers and acquisitions (M&A) opportunities and the benefits of being listed. However, the reality is that the companies using this method are often involved in unfair trading scandals that harm investors, or become insolvent shortly after listing. For example, NeosemiTech was delisted in an accounting fraud scandal and issued an audit opinion of rejection on August 23, 2010, less than a year after its backdoor listing through its merger with Mono Solar, a KOSDAQ listed company. This backdoor listing practice raises many theoretical and regulatory issues because backdoor listings integrate aspects of both IPO and M&A. Adjei, Cyree, and Walker (2008) investigate the characteristics of companies using reverse mergers and Gleason, Rosenthal, and Wiggins III (2005) study the characteristics and performance of reverse mergers. In Korea, the research focuses on the factors affecting the choice between backdoor listing and IPO, the market reaction to backdoor listing, and the performance of the companies listed through reverse mergers (e.g., Kim and Lee, 2009; Choi and Lee, 2006; Park, Park, and Pae, 2009; Yun and Kang, 2009). While the literature documents the aforementioned typical features of backdoor listing, we focus on the deterioration of backdoor-listed companies?one of the most noted stylized facts in the literature that has barely been explored. In addition, our study is the first of its kind in the backdoor listing literature to investigate the corporate governance of shell companies as well as the financial characteristics of shell and pearl companies. In this study, we conducted an empirical analysis using 104 backdoor and 189 regular listing cases from July 2006 to June 2010 in the KOSDAQ market. Similar to the results of previous studies, backdoor listing was preferred over regular listing by companies that were smaller, had lower net profit margins, or were subject to information asymmetry. This held true regardless of whether the pearl companies met the quantitative listing requirements in the KOSDAQ market. Second, the shell companies were more likely to be businesses that could easily merged due to their smaller size, lower ownership of the largest shareholders, and poor performance. Third, an analysis of the public disclosures revealed that compared to firms that undertook regular listing, backdoor-listed firms reported the following cases more often: violation of regulations, changes in governance structure, and delisting. Backdoor-listed firms were also more likely to experience distress shortly after the listing, when the shell company’s largest shareholders had a low ownership share and the shell company saw frequent changes in its corporate governance, or when the pearl company experienced higher profits just before the listing. Fourth, high positive excess return was observed around the date when the backdoor listing was disclosed and negative excess return occurred after the designated date. The cumulative excess return before and after backdoor listing was high for the shell companies that violated regulations before a reverse merger, implying that the investors positively evaluated the reverse merger’s effect on the governance reorganization of the shell company. However, the cumulative abnormal return after the designated date was lower for the pearl companies that recorded higher profits right before backdoor listing, which shows that pearl companies sometimes window dress before backdoor listing. The findings in this study demonstrate that backdoor listing is likely to occur with a shell company that is small in size, has relatively lower ownership by the largest shareholders, exhibits poor performance, and whose business is irrelevant to that of the pearl company. Often, the motive for the backdoor listing is the acquisition of listed status rather than the creation of synergy, resulting in a high probability that pearl companies choose backdoor listing because they fail to meet the quantitative or qualitative requirements for a regular listing.. We found that backdoor listed companies that merged with shell companies under weak corporate governance experienced investor protection- related problems or delisting more frequently, emphasizing the importance of examining qualitative requirements during the backdoor listing process. Hence, our study ascertains that the qualitative inspection system for backdoor listing introduced in September 2010 is appropriate.