Definition of ‘Split-Off’
A means of reorganizing an existing corporate structure in which the stock of a business division, subsidiary or newly affiliated company is transferred to the stockholders of the parent company in exchange for stock in the latter. Split-offs often occur when the parent company wishes to draw a greater distinction between itself and the split-off business.
It is probably wise to treat split-offs with suspicion, as companies will often use them to bolster the balance sheet by shedding underperforming or unprofitable divisions and/or subsidiaries. For example, when Blockbuster started feeling the pinch from other, cheaper DVD retailers and cable companies offering video-on-demand and easy video recording, Viacom announced plans to split-off of its 81.5% stake in the one-time video rental giant and was even willing to absorb a $1.3 billion charge to do it. The split-off was completed in 2004. On Sept. 23, 2010, Blockbuster filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.