Rationale for Mergers and Acquisitions


Ms. Navya. V
Faculty Member (Finance)


The phrase mergers and acquisitions (abbreviated M&A) refers to the aspect of corporate strategy, corporate finance and management dealing with the buying, selling and combining of different companies that can aid, finance, or help a growing company in a given industry grow rapidly without having to create another business entity. In today's competitive environment, one of the most eye-catching strategies being discussed in the board rooms is "Mergers and Acquisitions". The global M&A activity had reached record highs during the previous few years beating all-time record of $3. 3 trillion M&A value in 2000. Economic and political stability across the globe have facilitated the same, encouraging corporate growth which in turn is generating more and more M&A activities.

Why Do Mergers Occur?

There are a number of reasons that mergers and acquisitions occur. These issues generally relate to business concerns such as competition, efficiency, marketing, product, resource, and tax issues. They can also occur because of some very personal reasons such as retirement and family concerns. However, let's begin our exploration of why corporate combinations occur by discussing an often-cited reason - corporate greed.

Corporate Greed?

Some people say that mergers and acquisitions occur because the greedy corporations want to acquire everything. As far as economic theory is concerned, the primary objective of a firm is to maximize profits, and thereby maximize shareholder wealth.

When evaluating a new company, it becomes very important to identify the answers to various questions concerning motives for merger and whether it has been actualized. On the other hand, investors need to know if the new entity would take them to the heights of capital markets where their aspirations regarding returns would get the wings and fire.

Some of the motives for mergers are as below:

1. Synergy : Synergical effect occurs when two substances or factors combine to produce a greater effect together than the sum of those together operating independently. The principle of 2+2 =5, this theory expects that there is really "something out there which creates the merged entity to maximize the shareholders value". To put in other words, synergy is the ability of a merged company to create more shareholders value than standalone entity.

Financial synergy

The resultant feature of corporate merger or acquisition on the cost of capital of the combined or acquiring firm is called as financial synergy. It occurs as a result of the lower cost of internal financing versus external. A combination of firms with different cash flow positions and investment scenario may produce the synergic effect and achieve lower cost of capital. It means when the rate of cash flow of the acquirer firm is greater than that of the acquired firm, there is tendency to relocate the capital to the acquired firm and the investment opportunity of the latter increases. If the cash flows of the two entities are not perfectly correlated, the financial synergy can be expected thus reducing risk. The perceived reduction of the instability of the cash flow, would lead the suppliers to trust the firm, the combined debt capacity of the combined firm may be greater than the individual firms.

Operating synergy

Economies of scale and economies of scope exist in the industry and before the merger, the activities of the individual firms are insufficient to exploit these.

Synergy takes the form of revenue enhancement and cost reduction. Speaking of cutting down costs, this goal is typically achieved through economies of scale, particularly when it comes to sales and marketing, administrative, operating, and/or research and development costs. As for revenue synergies, these are achieved through product cross-selling, higher prices due to less competition, or staking a larger market share.

The merger of ICICI with ICICI Bank and the reverse merger of IDBI Bank with IDBI served multiple objectives. First, the institutions were strengthened financially. Second, they helped to avoid the complex processes of restructuring the weaker of the units and to foster financial stability. Finally, they have opened the possibilities of actively promoting universal banking.

When two companies in the same industry merge, the combined revenue tends to decline to the extend, they overlap with one another and some of the customers may also become alienated. For the merger to benefit the shareholders, there must be ample opportunities for the cost reduction, so that the initial lost value is recovered in due course through synergy.

To calculate the minimum value of the synergy required, to compensate the acquiring firm's shareholders, we equate the post-merger share price with that of the pre-merger share price using the following:

(Pre-merger value of both the firms + synergies) = Pre-merger stock price
  Post merger number of shares

2. Growth :Increasing a company's growth is the most common reason behind merger. Growth can be achieved through investing in capital projects internally or externally by buying out the assets of outside companies. Emperical studies show that the faster growth rates are achieved through external growth by means of mergers and acquisitions.

Merging internationally provides an immediate growth opportunity to a firm which was once operating within a single country. There are various factors which encourage a firm to merge internationally for growth are:

1. A firm with surplus cash flows operating in a slow-growing economy can invest its cash in fast-growing economy.

2. The domestic markets if are too small to accommodate the corporate or if the domestic markets have already reached saturation can go for international markets.

3. Overseas expansion may sometimes enable the medium size companies to improve their capacity and ability to compete.

4. Size enables the companies to achieve the economies of scale.

In September 2002, Asian Paints India Ltd, announced its decision to acquire 50. 1 % controlling stake in the Singapore-based Berger International Ltd for a consideration of Rs. 57. 6 crore. The primary reason for the merger was to enter into the South-East Asian market that BIL offered. With this acquisition, Asian paints would have a combined capacity of about 100,000 tones and will have 27 manufacturing facilities worldwide.

3. Market Power : One of the main motives of a merger is to increase the share of a firm in the market. It means to increase the size of the firm and also leading to the monopoly power, hence the firm gets an opportunity to set prices at levels that are not sustainable in a more competitive market. There are three sources by which market power can be achieved. They are product differentiation, overcoming entry barriers and improving market share.

One important reason that companies combine is to eliminate competition. Acquiring a competitor is an excellent way to improve a firm's position in the marketplace. It reduces competition, and allows the acquiring firm to use the target's resources and expertise. Unfortunately, combining for this purpose is per se illegal under the antitrust acts as a predatory practice in restraint of trade. Consequently, whenever a merger is proposed, a major part of the resulting press release often deals with how this combination of firms is not anti-competitive, and is done to better serve the consumer. Even if the merger is not for the stated purpose of eliminating competition, the regulatory agencies may conclude that a merger is likely to be anti-competitive. For example, Canadian National's attempt to merge with Burlington Northern Santa Fe was blocked because of concerns that the combination would prompt a series of mergers and acquisitions whose net effect would be to leave the continent with only two transcontinental railroads. Although eliminating competition may result in merger and acquisition activity, it is generally not acceptable to state this as the purpose of such activity.

Horizontal mergers which take place with a motive to attain market power. It is of great concern to the government because, it might lead to concentration or monopoly. Hence comparison between their efficiencies versus their effects of increased concentration must be made. Note that horizontal mergers are not the only type of mergers that can yield more market power. Vertical mergers can enable a company to capture sources of supplies, for example, that are of paramount importance to its competitors. This is why industry regulators routinely limit and even disallow horizontal and vertical mergers if there is even a hint of too much market power concentrating in the hands of only a few companies.

4. Corporate Tax Savings

Although tax savings may not be a primary motivation for a combination, it can sweeten the deal. When a purchase of either the assets or common stock of a company takes place, the tender offer less the stock's purchase price represents a gain to the target company's shareholders. Consequently, the target firm's shareholders will usually experience a taxable gain. However, the acquiring company may reap tax savings depending on the market value of the target company's assets when compared to the purchase price. The acquiring company can write up the target company's assets by the amount that the market value exceeds the net book value of the target company's assets. This difference can then be charged off to depreciation with resultant tax savings. This differs from goodwill in that goodwill is never tax deductible. Depending on the method of corporate combination, further tax savings may accrue to the owners of the target company.

Retirement or Cashing Out

For a family-owned business, when the owners wish to retire, or otherwise leave the business, and the next generation is uninterested in the business, the owners may decide to sell to another firm. For purposes of retirement or cashing out, if the deal is structured correctly, there can be significant tax savings. By using the pooling method, the sellers may be able to account for their sale of their interest as a tax-free exchange. Provided the sellers receive common stock of the purchasing company in exchange for their interest, they can assign the book value of their former investment to the shares received. Therefore, no tax would be due until the shares received are sold.

Other tax incentives

 If a firm having operating losses merges with another firm which has taxable profits, then there will be a net gain to the acquiring firm often at the expense of the government. The losses can be used to reduce the taxable income. Even if the two firms, which have merged have current profits, a merger can reduce future tax liability as the variability of cash flows is lowered after the merger. One firm's profit can be off-set by other firm's losses thus resulting in tax savings. Smaller the correlation between the firm's cash flows, larger is this effect.

5. Market/Business/Product Line Issues

Often mergers occur simply because one firm is in a market that another wants to enter. All of the target firm's experience and resources (the employees' expertise, business relationships, etc. ) are available by buying the targeted firm. This is a very common reason for acquisitions. For example, Monsanto acquired G. D. Searle because Monsanto wanted to acquire the pharmaceuticals and consumer chemicals (Aspartame) businesses. Sentry Insurance acquired John Deere Insurance Group to enter the market for insuring implement dealers, and transportation. CSK Automotive purchased All-Car to have access to the Central Wisconsin automotive parts market. Similarly, Canadian National purchased Wisconsin Central to enter the U. S. rail market. Whether the market is a new product, a business line, or a geographical region, market entry or expansion is a powerful reason for a merger.

Closely related to these issues are product line issues. A firm may wish to expand, balance, fill out or diversify its product lines. For example, merger and acquisition activities of Nortek/Peachtree Companies are primarily product line related.

6. Acquire Needed Resources

One firm may simply wish to purchase the resources of another firm or to combine the resources of the two firms. These resources may be tangible resources such a plant and equipment, or they may be intangible resources such as trade secrets, patents, copyrights, leases, etc. , or they may be talents of the target company's employees. One reason given for the mergers in the petroleum industry is that companies wish to acquire the leases of their competitors. If acquiring a company for its talent seems strange, consider that Cisco Systems CEO John T. Chambers said, "Most people forget that in a high-tech acquisition, you are really only acquiring people . We are not acquiring current market share. We are acquiring futures". It emphasize that often the reasons for mergers and acquisitions are quite similar to the reasons for buying any asset. Both firms and individuals purchase an asset for its utility.

7. Diversification: Diversification is another frequently cited reason for mergers. Actually, it was THE reason during the conglomerate merger wave. The idea was to circumvent regulatory restrictions on horizontal and vertical mergers by going outside a company's industry into new markets and to achieve growth there.

International mergers provide diversification both geographically and also by product line. When various economies are not correlated, then the international mergers reduce the earning risk, inherent in being dependent on a single economy. Thus international mergers reduce systematic and unsystematic risk.


The basic mechanics of corporate combinations and the reasons (both legitimate and illegitimate) that such combinations occur. We found that corporate combinations are similar to the kinds of combinations and acquisitions that individuals often undertake in their everyday lives. Further, acquisitions are often made for solid business reasons. Although the acquisition may be made for sound and understandable reasons, the acquiring company typically pays too much. This is due to asymmetric information and the mechanics of a tender offer. One final caveat is that each acquisition is complex with its own unique set of costs and benefits.

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    1. Mergers and acquisitions, Vol I by Board of Editors, ICFAI University Press

    2. Mergers and acquisitions, Vol IV by Board of Editors, ICFAI University Press

    3. Mergers and Acquisitions in services sector-Changing global scenario, Edited by VV Ramani and E. Mridula,Icfai Books.

    4. www. andrewgray. com/mergers

    5. www. jacksonville. bizjournals. com

Ms. Navya. V
Faculty Member (Finance)

Source: E-mail April 29, 2008


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