We examine effects of capital structure management and misvaluation on the payment method in mergers and acquisitions. In a sample of 3,097 transactions, we find evidence both for leverage optimization and misvaluation as drivers for the decision to pay with cash or stock. Our evidence also shows that it is difficult to pay with overvalued stock unless justified by economic fundamentals. Few bidders try and often only succeed after going hostile. Paying with cash while capital structure optimization suggests stock payment is more common. These firms are reluctant to pay with undervalued stock and experience positive long-term excess returns.