An analysis of private versus public firm valuations and the contribution of financial experts

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This study investigates differences in expert valuations of private versus public firms conducted for transactions outside the exchange. First, we provide evidence for extreme reliance of the experts on private firms' reported earnings, despite a possible manipulation of these earnings. In contrast, experts valuing public firms seem to rely on other, non-financial statement information sources, even if the quality of pre-acquisition earnings is higher in these firms. Second, we present evidence that the contribution of experts to investors in private firms is questionable at best. Our findings indicate that a private firm valuation performed by a potential investor based on available information provides results similar to those of the expert. Third, we show that inconclusive results regarding the existence of a discount in private firm valuations may be explained by experts' compliance with the interests of the commissioner of the valuation. This finding provides at least a partial explanation for the private company discount, one that adds to prior standard explanations (e.g., liquidity) offered in the finance literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-412
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Accounting
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • Financial experts
  • Firm valuation
  • Private company discount
  • Valuation multiples
  • Value-relevance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance


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