Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are transactions in which the ownership of companies, other business organizations or their operating units are transferred or combined. As an aspect of strategic management, M&A can allow enterprises to grow, shrink, 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 euphemistically 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”.
An acquisition or takeover is the purchase of one business or company by another company or other business entity. Specific acquisition targets can be identified through myriad avenues including market research, trade expos, or sent up from internal business units, among others. Such purchase may be of 100%, or nearly 100%, of the assets or ownership equity of the acquired entity. Consolidation occurs when two companies combine to form a new enterprise altogether, and neither of the previous companies remains independently. Acquisitions are divided into “private” and “public” acquisitions, depending on whether the acquiree or merging company (also termed a target) is or is not listed on a public stock market. Some public companies rely on acquisitions as an important value creation strategy. An additional dimension or categorization consists of whether an acquisition is friendly or hostile.
Achieving acquisition success has proven to be very difficult, while various studies have shown that 50% of acquisitions were unsuccessful. “Serial acquirers” appear to be more successful with M&A than companies who only make an acquisition The new forms of buy out created since the crisis are based on serial type acquisitions known as an ECO Buyout which is a co-community ownership buy out and the new generation buy outs of the MIBO (Management Involved or Management & Institution Buy Out) and MEIBO (Management & Employee Involved Buy Out).
whether a purchase is perceived as being a “friendly” one or “hostile” depends significantly on how the proposed acquisition is communicated to and perceived by the target company’s board of directors, employees and shareholders. It is normal for M&A deal communications to take place in a so-called “confidentiality bubble” wherein the flow of information is restricted pursuant to confidentiality agreements. In the case of a friendly transaction, the companies cooperate in negotiations; in the case of a hostile deal, the board and/or management of the target is unwilling to be bought or the target’s board has no prior knowledge of the offer. Hostile acquisitions can, and often do, ultimately become “friendly”, as the acquirer secures endorsement of the transaction from the board of the acquire company. This usually requires an improvement in the terms of the offer and/or through negotiation.
“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 and/or longer-established company and retain the name of the latter for the post-acquisition combined entity. This is known as a reverse takeover. Another type of acquisition is the reverse merger, a form of transaction that enables a private company to be publicly listed in a relatively short time frame. A reverse merger occurs when a privately held company (often one that has strong prospects and is eager to raise financing) buys a publicly listed shell company, usually one with no business and limited assets.
The combined evidence suggests that the shareholders of acquired firms realize significant positive “abnormal returns” while shareholders of the acquiring company are most likely to experience a negative wealth effect. The overall net effect of M&A transactions appears to be positive: almost all studies report positive returns for the investors in the combined buyer and target firms. This implies that M&A creates economic value, presumably by transferring assets to management teams that operate them more efficiently.
An increase in acquisitions in the global business environment requires enterprises to evaluate the key stake holders of acquisition very carefully before implementation. It is imperative for the acquirer to understand this relationship and apply it to its advantage. Employee retention is only possible when resources are exchanged and managed without affecting their independence.
Corporate acquisitions can be characterized for legal purposes as either “asset purchases” in which the seller sells business assets to the buyer, or “equity purchases” in which the buyer purchases equity interests in a target company from one or more selling shareholders. Asset purchases are common in technology transactions where the buyer is most interested in particular intellectual property rights but does not want to acquire liabilities or other contractual relationships. An asset purchase structure may also be used when the buyer wishes to buy a particular division or unit of a company which is not a separate legal entity. There are numerous challenges particular to this type of transaction, including isolating the specific assets and liabilities that pertain to the unit, determining whether the unit utilizes services from other units of the selling company, transferring employees, transferring permits and licenses, and ensuring that the seller does not compete with the buyer in the same business area in the future.
Structuring the sale of a financially distressed company is uniquely difficult due to the treatment of non-compete covenants, consulting agreements, and business goodwill in such transactions.
Mergers, asset purchases and equity purchases are each taxed differently, and the most beneficial structure for tax purposes is highly situation-dependent. One hybrid form often employed for tax purposes is a triangular merger, where the target company merges with a shell company wholly owned by the buyer, thus becoming a subsidiary of the buyer. In a “forward triangular merger”, the buyer causes the target company to merge into the subsidiary; a “reverse triangular merger” is similar except that the subsidiary merges into the target company. Under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, a forward triangular merger is taxed as if the target company sold its assets to the shell company and then liquidated, whereas a reverse triangular merger is taxed as if the target company’s shareholders sold their stock in the target company to the buyer.
The documentation of an M&A transaction often begins with a letter of intent. The letter of intent generally does not bind the parties to commit to a transaction, but may bind the parties to confidentiality and exclusivity obligations so that the transaction can be considered through a due diligence process involving lawyers, accountants, tax advisors, and other professionals, as well as business people from both sides.
After due diligence is completed, the parties may proceed to draw up a definitive agreement, known as a “merger agreement”, “share purchase agreement” or “asset purchase agreement” depending on the structure of the transaction.
Post-closing, adjustments may still occur to certain provisions of the purchase agreement, including the purchase price. These adjustments are subject to enforceability issues in certain situations. Alternatively, certain transactions use the ‘locked box’ approach where the purchase price is fixed at signing and based on seller’s equity value at a pre-signing date and an interest charge.
Thus Merger and Acquisition requires an altogether different kind of study along with the a different experience of work, along with the knowledge of various procedures, rules and compliances as Merger and Acquisition is a more complex kind of branch of Accounts.
BMS being equipped with a team of qualified and experienced professionals will help you to carry out the Merger and Acquisition smoothly and efficiently.