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Is this the beginning of merger season?

Julia Coronado Apr 2, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: Two bits of merger news this morning. The beauty and fragrance company Coty went public with its offer to buy rival Avon for about $10 billion — that’s an offer Avon so far has rejected. And Express Scripts and Medco — two companies that process prescriptions at the drug store — have gotten federal approval for their merger.

Julia Coronado is chief economist with the investment bank BNP Paribas and she’s with us live from New York to discuss. Good morning, Julia.

Julia Coronado: Good morning.

Hobson: So these are two pretty big mergers, or potential mergers — what’s going on?

Coronado: Well, this is one thing companies can do with their cash. And we know that companies are sitting on these enormous cash piles, so one thing that they can do is buy each other, buy their competitors and consolidate, and so that’s what we’re starting to see.

Hobson: And when they do that, are they buying each other at the expense of hiring people?

Coronado: Possibly. I mean, there’s a lot of things you can do with the cash — you can hire people; you can invest in new capital, new projects; you can pay it back to your shareholders through dividends; or you can buy back your shares. And so, this is one thing you can do. It’s not something that does send a super strong signal to the macro economy that companies are using their cash just to consolidate and become more efficient.

Hobson: And Julia, is this a larger trend or is it just two things happening on the same day that are similar?

Coronado: I think we are going to see more mergers and acquisitions. Again, it is a sensible thing to do with your cash, and companies have so much of it, there’s no reason we shouldn’t see more, and more in other industries as well.

Hobson: Julia Coronado, chief economist with BNP Paribas, thanks as always.

Coronado: It’s a pleasure.

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