Merger Negotiations

Merger negotiations and mergers, similar to marriages, often fail. Therefore, it is very important to plan and execute merger negotiations properly to improve a merger’s chances for success.

Acquiring firms need to understand the deal very well before approaching the target company. Space for bargaining should be considered. For example, acquiring firm could initially offer somewhere between 75-90% of what it believes the target company is worth. However, it is also important to be reasonable when the initial offer is made. If the price will be too low then the relationship between parties may be severely damaged.

Good atmosphere and a respectful and positive tone of negotiations should be created. A Win-win mindset in negotiation should be maintained, not a win-lose mindset.

It is also important for the acquiring firm not to show its eagerness as this will decrease its bargaining power. Another essential point is the vital importance of being completely ethical and honest in conducting negotiations. Conflicts of interest also should be carefully avoided.

Negotiations should also be seen as an extension of the due diligence. It should be used to find explanations to unclear issues. It is important to remain sceptical and to check the information provided by the other party.

It is also recommended to engage competent advisors to attend to various important areas associated with merger negotiations. Such areas include, but are not limited to, due-diligence, tax, legal, regulatory matters and the valuation of the company.

Investment bankers are often hired to manage merger negotiations. Investment bankers may be hired by the acquiring company and/or target company and assists either party from the very beginning of the process by finding a target or a buyer all the way throughout assisting in merger negotiations, use of tender offers and in the execution of hostile merger defence strategies. The compensation of investment bankers may be commission-based, fixed fee or a combination of both.

In terms of personnel issues, it is imperative to be aware of the sensitivity with which employees of the target company are likely to approach possible relocation, changes in management, changes in the way operations are conducted and titles.

A good way for the target company to secure a good price is to follow a closed auction strategy. According to a closed auction strategy, the target company invites all interested parties to submit their sealed bids before the deadline. This is in comparison to open auction where all parties are aware of the previous bids submitted by other interested parties.

Prior to the submission of bids, all interested parties should receive a memorandum and an ability to undertake a limited due diligence. A closed auction strategy usually involves few rounds and concurrent negotiations with various interested parties.

The target company may even follow this strategy if there is only one company interested in the acquisition. This is possible because interested parties have no access to information regarding how many organizations are involved in a closed auction.

If a friendly takeover is not welcomed by the target company, the acquiring company may undertake a hostile takeover (hostile merger). The acquiring company will do so by using a tender offer. Tender offers refer to a formal offer made to the shareholders in the market place to obtain certain amount of shares at a given price which is above the current market price.

 

Types of Corporate Restructuring

Mergers and Consolidations

Consolidation is a type of corporate restructuring and occurs when two or more organizations come together to form a completely new corporation. This new corporation typically include all assets and liabilities of the combined separate companies. Consolidations usually occur between organizations of similar size.

Merger is also a type of corporate restructuring and occurs when two or more organizations merge into one. Organizations that merged into one usually maintain the identity of most important organization.

Merger often involves one or more smaller organizations merging into a larger organization and becoming part of that larger organization. Merging involves absorption of assets and liabilities of all firms merged. Mergers also can be called acquisitions, buyouts or takeovers.

Within a merger, the acquiring company (generally larger and more important company) usually will approach a target company (smaller and less important company) to arrange a merger.

Sometimes, however, the target company may approach acquiring company. The key outcome that the acquiring company seeks from a merger is synergy, leverage, key staff, technology or even preventing a competitor from acquiring a particular company.

Government and mergers

Governments regulate mergers. The main concern of the government is to ensure that competition is not eliminated. This concern is especially relevant if one direct competitor attempts to acquire another direct competitor. Such a merger could result in higher prices for consumers and lower output of combined organizations (fewer product or service options or inferior customer service). If such a situation occurs then population may end up worse off than it was before the merger.

Mergers, of course, also may provide social benefits. Such benefits include economies of scale and scope, better utilization of resources, higher output and improved quality.

Therefore, government usually prohibits only those mergers in which anticompetitive disadvantages outweigh social benefits.

Hostile and Friendly mergers (takeovers)

Hostile merger (hostile takeover) usually occurs when the acquiring company approaches target company but management of the target company or the board of directors of the target company do not support the proposal for acquisition. In such a situation, the target company may take actions to make it harder or impossible for the hostile merger to take place by executing hostile merger defence strategies.

Acquiring company then attempts to obtain the required amount of shares in the market place via tender offers. Tender offers refer to formal offers made to the shareholders in the market place to obtain a certain amount of shares at a given price which is above the current market price.

The acquiring company may also undertake a creeping tender offer by silently purchasing enough shares in the market place before making their intentions known.

Hostile mergers (hostile takeover) also occurs if the acquiring company approached shareholders directly without firstly approaching the management and board of directors of the target company.

Another way a hostile merger can occur is if the acquiring company engages in a proxy fight by trying to obtain support of enough shareholders to replace management with new management which will endorse the takeover.

Certainly hostile mergers are more difficult to undertake. The acquiring company may struggle to obtain a loan if it needs to borrow to finance a hostile takeover as banks usually are not supportive of hostile takeovers.

The acquiring company is also at greater risk under a hostile takeover because it cannot undertake an in depth due diligence of the target company and will have to rely completely on the publicly available information to make a decision to acquire a target company. Nevertheless, hostile takeovers also take place.

Friendly merger (friendly takeover) involves a situation where the acquiring company approaches the management of the target company with the proposal for acquisition. If management supports such an acquisition and if the board of directors sees a merger to be in best interests of shareholders, then the board makes such a recommendation to the shareholders. If shareholders approval is obtained then a friendly merger occurs and it is completed by the acquiring company obtaining shares in the target company.

Motives for mergers

Any action undertaken by business must be based on achieving the main objective of the enterprise which is the wealth maximization of the owners of the enterprise.

The main objective of a merger should be the same as the main objective of the firm. Namely, the maximization of the owners’ wealth by improving the share value.

There are two driving forces for mergers, which should be consistent with the main objective. They include strategic and financial reasons.

Under a strategic merger the performance of firms after the merger is higher than performance of firms before merger. The strategic merger involves economies of scale due to combining two or more firms to achieve greater productivity and profitability.

Financial mergers are conducted due to a perception by the acquiring company that the target company can be managed and structured better after acquisition. In this way the acquiring company anticipates to unlock unrealized value from the target company. Such mergers rely significantly on debt to finance acquisition. A leveraged buyout (LBOs) is an example of financial mergers. Strategic mergers are more prevalent than financial mergers.

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