Meaning of Mergers and Acquisition in Business

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) is a general term that refers to the consolidation of companies or assets through various types of financial transactions. M&A can include a number of different transactions, such as mergers, acquisitions, consolidations, tender offers, purchase of assets and management acquisitions.

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are transactions in which the ownership of companies, other business organizations, or their operating units are transferred or consolidated with other entities. As an aspect of strategic management, M&A can allow enterprises to grow or downsize, and change the nature of their business or competitive position.

From a legal point of view, a merger is a legal consolidation of two entities into one entity, whereas an acquisition occurs when one entity takes ownership of another entity’s stock, equity interests or assets.

From a commercial and economic point of view, both types of transactions generally result in the consolidation of assets and liabilities under one entity, and the distinction between a “merger” and an “acquisition” is less clear.

A transaction legally structured as an acquisition may have the effect of placing one party’s business under the indirect ownership of the other party’s shareholders, while a transaction legally structured as a merger may give each party’s shareholders partial ownership and control of the combined enterprise.

A deal may be politely called a merger of equals if both CEOs agree that joining together is in the best interest of both of their companies, while when the deal is unfriendly (that is, when the management of the target company opposes the deal) it may be regarded as an “acquisition”.

Mergers: Sherman and Hart (2006) define Merger as “a combination of two or more companies in which the assets and liabilities of the selling firm(s) are absorbed by the buying firm. Although the buying firm may be a considerably different organization after the merger, it retains its original identity.”

In other words, in a merger one of the two existing companies merges its identity into another existing company or one or more existing companies may form a new company and merge their identities into a new company by transferring their businesses and undertakings including all other assets and liabilities to the new company (hereinafter referred to as the merged company).

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The shareholders of the company (or companies, as the case may be) will have substantial shareholding in the merged company. They will be allotted shares in the merged company in exchange for the shares held by them in the merging company or companies, as the case may be, according to the share exchange ratio incorporated in the scheme of merger as approved by all or the prescribed majority of the shareholders of the merging company or companies and the merged company in their separate general meetings and sanctioned by the court.

Acquisitions and Takeovers

“An acquisition”, is the purchase of by one company (the acquirer) of a substantial part of the assets or the securities of another (target company). The purchase may be a division of the target company or a large part (or all) of the target company’s voting shares.”

Acquisitions are often made as part of a company’s growth strategy whereby it is more beneficial to take over an existing firm’s operations and niche compared to expanding on its own.

Acquisitions are often paid in cash, the acquiring company’s shares or a combination of both. Further, an acquisition may be friendly or hostile. In the former case, the companies cooperate in negotiations; in the latter case, the takeover target is unwilling to be bought or the target’s board has no prior knowledge of the offer.

Acquisition usually refers to a purchase of a smaller firm by a larger one. Sometimes, however, a smaller firm will acquire management control of a larger or longer established company and keep its name for the combined entity. This is known as a reverse takeover.

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