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The Future of Mergers and Acquisitions

Beginning in 1980, with President Ronald Reagan’s administration, The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission has adjusted its policies to allow more horizontal mergers and acquisitions. The states have responded by invoking their antitrust laws to scrutinize these types of transactions. Nevertheless, mergers and acquisitions have increased throughout the U.S. economy, including the health care industry, electric utilities, telecommunications corporations, and national defense contractors.


Mergers and acquisitions (abbreviated M&A) refers to the aspect of corporate strategy, corporate finance management dealing with the buying, selling, dividing and combining of different companies and similar entities that can aid, finance, or help an enterprise grow rapidly in its sector or location of origin or a new field or new location without creating a subsidiary, other child entity or using a joint venture. The distinction between a “merger” and an “acquisition” has become increasingly blurred in various respects (particularly in terms of the ultimate economic outcome), although it has not completely disappeared in all situations.


  1. Improper documentation and changing implicit knowledge makes it difficult to share information during acquisition.
  2. For acquired firm symbolic and cultural independence which is the base of technology and capabilities are more important than administrative independence.
  3. Detailed knowledge exchange and integrations are difficult when the acquired firm is large and high performing.
  4. Management of executives from acquired firm is critical in terms of promotions and pay incentives to utilize their talent and value their expertise.
  5. Transfer of technologies and capabilities are most difficult task to manage because of complications of acquisition implementation. The risk of losing implicit knowledge is always associated with the fast pace acquisition.

Only possible when resources are exchanged and managed without affecting their independence.

Although often used synonymously, the terms merger and acquisition mean slightly different things. The legal concept of a merger (with the resulting corporate mechanics, statutory merger or statutory consolidation, which have nothing to do with the resulting power grab as between the management of the target and the acquirer) and the business point of view of a “merger”, which can be achieved independently of the corporate mechanics through various means such as “triangular merger”, statutory merger, acquisition, etc. When one company takes over another and clearly establishes itself as the new owner, the purchase is called an acquisition. From a legal point of view, the target company ceases to exist, the buyer “swallows” the business and the buyer’s stock continues to be traded.

In the pure sense of the term, a merger happens when two firms agree to go forward as a single new company rather than remain separately owned and operated. This kind of action is more precisely referred to as a “merger of equals”. The firms are often of about the same size. Both companies’ stocks are surrendered and new company stock is issued in its place. However, actual mergers of equals don’t happen very often. Usually, one company will buy another and, as part of the deal’s terms, simply allow the acquired firm to proclaim that the action is a merger of equals, even if it is technically an acquisition. Being bought out often carries negative connotations; therefore, by describing the deal euphemistically as a merger, deal makers and top managers try to make the takeover more palatable.

A purchase deal will also be called a merger when both CEOs agree that joining together is in the best interest of both of their companies. But when the deal is unfriendly (that is, when the target company does not want to be purchased) it is always regarded as an acquisition.

Although at present the majority of M&A advice is provided by full-service investment banks, recent years have seen a rise in the prominence of specialist M&A advisers, who only provide M&A advice (and not financing). These companies are sometimes referred to as Transition companies, assisting businesses often referred to as “companies in transition.”

The Great Merger Movement was a predominantly U.S. business phenomenon that happened from 1895 to 1905. During this time, small firms with little market share consolidated with similar firms to form large, powerful institutions that dominated their markets. It is estimated that more than 1,800 of these firms disappeared into consolidations, many of which acquired substantial shares of the markets in which they operated, the vehicle used were so-called trusts. In 1900 the value of firms acquired in mergers was 20% of GDP. In 1990 the value was only 3% and from 1998 – 2000 it was around 10 – 11% of GDP. Companies such as DuPont, US Steel, and General Electric that merged during the Great Merger Movement were able to keep their dominance in their respective sectors through 1929, and in some cases today, due to growing.

Technological advances of their products, patents, and brand recognition by their customers. There were also other companies that held the greatest market share in 1905 but at the same time did not have the competitive advantages of the companies like DuPont and General Electric. These companies such as International Paper and American Chicle, saw their market share decrease significantly by 1929 as smaller competitors joined forces with each other and provided much more competition. The companies that merged were mass producers of homogeneous goods that could exploit the efficiencies of large volume production. In addition, many of these mergers were capital-intensive. Due to high fixed costs, when demand fell, these newly-merged companies had an incentive to maintain output and reduce prices, however more often than not mergers were “quick mergers”. These “quick mergers” involved mergers of companies with unrelated technology and different management. As a result, the efficiency gains associated with mergers were not present. The new and bigger company would actually face higher costs than competitors because of these technological and managerial differences. Thus, the mergers were not done to see large efficiency gains; they were in fact done because that was the trend at the time, Companies which had specific fine products, like fine writing paper, earned their profits on high margin rather than volume and took no part in Great Merger Movement.