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The phrase mergers and acquisitions refers to the arm of corporate finance that is concerned with the buying, selling and merging of companies and also the financing of these transactions.
An acquisition is the purchase of one company by another and is also known as a takeover or buyout. Larger companies usually acquire smaller companies, but there are occasions, known as reverse takeovers, where smaller companies acquire larger or older organisations.
A merger is a situation when two companies form one larger company in order to consolidate operations, reduce costs, increase profits and (where the companies are publicly listed) shareholder value. Whilst mergers may be officially seen as the consolidation of equals, it is often the case that one of the parties (companies) enters the agreement in a position of strength. When the other party (company) agrees to this consolidation the process will be described as a merger. In cases where the second party resists consolidation, this is typically described as an acquisition.
Mergers and acquisitions occur for a number of reasons including:
Mergers and acquisitions are often long and drawn out processes which involve agreeing on price, future strategy, taking into account market conditions and predictions and sometimes public concerns about the future of jobs and communities.
Investment banks commonly provide advice and services to companies involved in mergers and acquisitions, including carrying out the transactions. Specialist M&A advisory companies also exist to provide advice and consultation.
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