Working paper

Buying and Selling Entrepreneurial Assets

Alexandre Gaillard, and Sumudu Kankanamge


This paper introduces a theory of entrepreneurial assets transfer consistent with empirical evidence and centered around a business for sale market that values firms based on their intangible assets. We consider the key endogenous entrepreneurial choices to purchase, found, sell or liquidate business assets and the equilibrium price designed to capture both the intertemporal and the intangible value of a firm. We distinguish earlystage and mature firms as the latter are less likely to fail, make higher profits and face less stringent financial constraints. We argue that maturity translates the intangible value of a firm. We discipline our model using U.S. surveys and a new dataset of business selling transactions. We show that the absence of the business for sale market leads to a severe drop in aggregate output. Then, decomposing the effects of maturity, we show how they shape aggregate outcomes and wealth concentration.


Entrepreneurship, Business transfers, Intangible Assets;

JEL codes

  • E21: Consumption • Saving • Wealth
  • E23: Production
  • J24: Human Capital • Skills • Occupational Choice • Labor Productivity


Alexandre Gaillard, and Sumudu Kankanamge, Buying and Selling Entrepreneurial Assets, TSE Working Paper, n. 20-1078, February 2020.

See also

Published in

TSE Working Paper, n. 20-1078, February 2020