10 Unexpected Advantages and Disadvantages of Mergers and Acquisitions

Mergers and Acquisitions

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are two of the most significant events that can occur in the business world. M&A can be a complex and risky process, but it can also offer companies significant opportunities for growth and expansion. In this blog post, we’ll explore the basics of mergers and acquisitions, including what they are, why they happen, and some specific examples of notable M&A deals.

What are mergers and acquisitions?

Mergers and acquisitions refer to the consolidation of two or more companies into a single entity. While these terms are often used interchangeably, there are some differences between them.

A merger occurs when two companies of similar size and stature come together to form a new entity. In a merger, the companies combine their assets, liabilities, and operations to create a new company with a shared identity.

An acquisition, on the other hand, occurs when one company purchases another. In this case, the acquiring company absorbs the acquired company’s assets and liabilities, and the acquired company ceases to exist as a separate entity.


M&A can be classified into three types:

  1. Horizontal M&A: This occurs when two companies in the same industry and at the same stage of production merge or acquire each other. The aim is to consolidate market share, eliminate competition, and improve economies of scale.

A prime example of horizontal M&A is the acquisition of 21st Century Fox by Disney in 2019. The deal allowed Disney to acquire Fox’s vast media and entertainment assets, including the X-Men and Avatar franchises, as well as a majority stake in Hulu, a streaming service.

  1. Vertical M&A: This occurs when a company acquires or merges with another company in a different stage of the production chain. The aim is to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and gain control over the supply chain.

Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017 is a classic example of vertical M&A. The acquisition allowed Amazon to gain a physical retail presence, improve its logistics and distribution network, and offer customers a wider range of products.

  1. Conglomerate M&A: This occurs when two companies in unrelated industries merge or acquire each other. The aim is to diversify the business and spread risk across multiple sectors.

Berkshire Hathaway’s acquisition of Precision Castparts in 2015 is an example of conglomerate M&A. Berkshire Hathaway is primarily an investment holding company with interests in a range of businesses, while Precision Castparts is a manufacturer of industrial components. The acquisition allowed Berkshire Hathaway to expand its portfolio and enter new industries.

Benefits of M&A

Mergers and acquisitions can be undertaken for a variety of reasons, depending on the goals and circumstances of the companies involved. Let’s see some of the most common reasons for M&A and examples:

  1. Growth: M&A can help companies expand their market share, customer base, and product offerings. Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram in 2012 is an example of how a company can expand its user base and stay competitive in the mobile photo-sharing market.
  2. Synergy: M&A can create cost savings, increase revenue, and improve efficiency. ExxonMobil’s 1999 merger is an example of how combining research and development, exploration, and marketing functions can result in significant cost savings.
  3. Diversification: M&A can help companies diversify their portfolio and spread risk across multiple industries. Delta’s 2009 merger with Northwest Airlines allowed the company to diversify its route network and reduce its exposure to a single market while gaining access to Northwest’s valuable Asian routes.
  4. Eliminating Competition: M&A can be used to eliminate competition and consolidate market share. AT&T‘s acquisition of Time Warner in 2018 gave the company control of valuable media assets like HBO, CNN, and Warner Bros., which gave it a significant competitive advantage over other telecommunications companies.
  5. Financial Reasons: M&A can be motivated by financial reasons, such as improving a company’s balance sheet or increasing shareholder value. For example, a company may acquire another company to gain access to its cash reserves or to reduce its tax liability.

These deals can be motivated by a variety of reasons, including growth, synergy, diversification, eliminating competition, and financial reasons.

Challenges and Risks of M&A

While mergers and acquisitions can provide significant benefits, they can also be challenging and risky endeavours. Some of the common challenges and risks include:

  1. Integration: One of the biggest challenges of M&A is integrating the two companies and their cultures. Combining different workforces, technologies, and operations can be complex and time-consuming, and can result in disruptions to business operations.
  2. Financial Risks: Mergers and acquisitions can be expensive, and there is always the risk that the acquired company may not deliver the expected financial returns. Companies must carefully evaluate the financial risks and benefits of the deal before proceeding.
  3. Legal and Regulatory Issues: M&A deals can also be subject to legal and regulatory scrutiny. Companies must comply with antitrust laws and other regulations, which can be time-consuming and costly. Failure to comply can result in fines, lawsuits, and damage to the company’s reputation.
  4. Culture Clash: M&A deals can also result in a clash of cultures between the two companies. Different corporate cultures, management styles, and employee attitudes can lead to conflicts and hinder the success of the deal.
  5. Loss of Key Employees: These types of deals can also lead to the loss of key employees, who may leave the company due to uncertainty or dissatisfaction with the changes. This can be especially problematic in industries where talent is scarce.

In summary, M&A deals can be challenging and risky, and companies must carefully evaluate the potential benefits and risks before proceeding. Effective planning, communication, and execution are essential for a successful M&A deal.

Two Examples of Succesful M&A

Many well-known companies have successfully executed mergers and acquisitions to grow and expand their businesses. Here are two notable examples:

  1. Disney and Pixar: In 2006, Disney acquired Pixar Animation Studios for $7.4 billion. The acquisition brought together two of the biggest names in animation and allowed Disney to expand its portfolio of movies and characters. Since the acquisition, Disney has released several successful Pixar movies, including “Toy Story 3,” “Inside Out,” and “Finding Dory.”
  2. Facebook and Instagram: In 2012, Facebook acquired the photo-sharing app Instagram for $1 billion. At the time, Instagram had just 30 million users, but it was growing rapidly. The acquisition allowed Facebook to expand its social media offerings and tap into the growing popularity of visual content. Today, Instagram has over one billion monthly active users and is one of the most popular social media platforms.

While each deal is unique, these companies were able to execute their strategies effectively and achieve their goals.

Hostile M&A’s

Not all M&A deals are friendly. In some cases, a company may try to acquire another company without the approval or cooperation of its management. This is known as a hostile takeover, and it can be a contentious and complex process.

Hostile takeovers often involve a company making a tender offer to the target company’s shareholders, offering to buy their shares at a premium to the current market price. If the offer is successful, the acquiring company can gain control of the target company’s assets and operations.

Hostile takeovers can be difficult to execute because the target company’s management may resist the acquisition, seeking to maintain control of the company. This can lead to a prolonged and expensive battle, with both sides engaging in legal and regulatory manoeuvres to gain an advantage.

One example of a hostile takeover is the attempted acquisition of Hershey’s by Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company in 2002. Wrigley offered to acquire Hershey’s for $12.5 billion, but the Hershey’s board rejected the offer, citing concerns about the impact on the company’s employees and the local community.

While hostile takeovers are less common than friendly M&A deals, they can still have a significant impact on companies and their stakeholders. Companies must carefully consider the risks and benefits of such deals before proceeding, and target companies must be prepared to defend themselves if necessary.


Mergers and acquisitions can be complex, but they can also provide significant benefits for companies looking to grow and expand. From increased market share to expanded product offerings, M&A can help companies achieve their strategic goals and stay competitive in a rapidly changing business environment.

However, M&A also carries risks and challenges, including cultural differences, integration issues, and the possibility of hostile takeovers. Companies must carefully evaluate potential M&A deals and develop a clear strategy for executing them effectively.

Ultimately, successful M&A requires a combination of strategic planning, effective execution, and a focus on creating value for all stakeholders. Whether friendly or hostile, M&A can be a powerful tool for companies looking to achieve their goals and drive long-term growth.

Written by TrendyToros

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