Deals from Hell
IN THIS SUMMARY
Mega-mergers and acquisitions seem to be the norm these days. They garner a lot of press, and with good reason. Shareholders, stockholders, competitors, and regulatory agencies all follow these deals with great interest. Part of the fascination is speculation on whether the marriage will last, or whether it will join the list of very public and very spectacular failures. Not all of this interest is prurient. Some is actually a legitimate attempt to find a magic M&A formula. As Robert Bruner explains in Deals from Hell: M&A Lessons That Rise Above the Ashes, M&A is part art and part science, and the components for success vary from deal to deal. Bruner takes a different approach to the study of M&A. Instead of looking at the successes, he examines some of the stunning failures, like the acquisition of Columbia Pictures by Sony and the merger of AOL and Time Warner, to see what went wrong. Through extensive case study and comparison, Bruner provides a primer for M&A that is must reading for any executive. The French think of mergers as fusion--the emergence of a new structure out of two old ones. In this respect, M&A activity can radically change the landscape of an industry. Typically, the number of players shrinks, causing anxiety, as some will inevitably bemoan the power of a few corporations over one sector of the industry. However, what stays in the mind of the public the longest, are the mergers and acquisitions that fail. While some may find entertainment value in the failures, examining them can help build a foundation for sensible policies and practices.