The drama behind mergers and acquisitions
Doug Parker (L), Chairman and CEO of US Airways, and Thomas Horton, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of American Airlines, speak during a news conference to announce the merger of the two airlines in Dallas, Texas.
Hostile takeovers, backroom deals and selling companies have long been a part of the finance world. But in the past few decades, M&As have grown into an enormous business. Deals between corporations can now shake entire industries.
John Weir Close, author of A Giant Cow-tipping by Savages: The Boom, Bust, and Boom Culture of M&A, says the early days of M&As in the 1970s and 1980s were filled with gritty details of backroom drama and wild personalities.
"M&A are a much more sober business," Close says. "And the people doing it are much more sober now."
Although the M&A industry is much tamer now, the relics of risk-taking still remain. "Early M&A spread almost an infection into modern Wall Street," Close says. "I think that the financial crisis is a direct descendent of the 1980s. There's a direct link between investment bankers urging clients to buy more and bid more, to investment bankers selling subprime mortgages, that brought us to where we are today."