What It Is:
A merger is a corporate strategy of combining different companies into a single company in order to enhance the financial and operational strengths of both organizations.
How It Works/Example:
A merger usually involves combining two companies into a single larger company. The combination of the two companies involves a transfer of ownership, either through a stock swap or a cash payment between the two companies. In practice, both companies surrender their stock and issue new stock as a new company.
There are several types of mergers. For example, horizontal mergers may happen between two companies in the same industry, such as banks or steel companies. Vertical mergers occur between two companies in the same industry value chain, such as a supplier or distributor or manufacturer. Mergers between two companies in related, but not the same industry are called concentric mergers. These mergers can use the same technologies or skilled workforce to work in both industry segments, such as banking and leasing. Finally, conglomerate mergers occur between two diversified companies that may share management to improve economies of scale for both companies.
A merger sometimes involves new branding or identity of the merged companies. Otherwise, a merger may lead to a combination of the names of the two companies, capitalizing on the brand identity of both companies.
Why It Matters:
Mergers may result in a stronger company with combined assets, competencies, and markets. At the same time, mergers may result in a dilution of the financial strengths of one of the companies, particularly if the new company results in the issuance of more stock across the same asset base of the two merged companies. Finally, mergers often fail because of the clash of corporate cultures between the two companies, a reluctance to restructure redundant management and operations, incompatibilities of the technologies used by the companies, and disruptions in the workforce.
Because mergers are difficult to implement, most ultimately take the form of an acquisition, that is, the purchase of a weaker company by a stronger company.