Mergers and acquisitions as a strategy for business growth : a comparative overview
This paper focuses on mergers and acquisitions as tools for business growth, how these have come into existence, their strengths, and mainly the reasons for their failure. Taking a closer look on how these have emerged in the United States, United Kingdom and South Africa. Amongst the various ways that companies are able to get business financing, mergers and acquisitions have emerged as one of the most popular strategies for business diversity and growth. Mergers and acquisitions are agreed upon by companies to achieve certain strategic and financial goals. This is usually achieved by the bringing together of two companies with often contrasting corporate personalities, cultures and value systems.¹ The field of mergers and acquisitions has grown greatly over the past half century. At one point, mergers and acquisitions was mainly a US phenomenon but during the 1990‘s their volume in Europe started rivaling that of the USA. By 2000's mergers and acquisitions had become commonly used corporate strategies for companies‘ worldwide.² Even though the number of mergers and acquisition seems to increase and decrease in waves, they have been studied frequently. A study revealed that in 2004 an acquisition was made every 18 minutes all year round. There was normally not a business day that would go by without the news of a merger or an acquisition in the media. The decision to merge, usually taken by the board and shareholders of a company is always preceded by extensive planning and implementation.³ Mergers and acquisitions are part of the continuing process of the growth of companies and as a result of the separation of ownership and management, it is management which will play the dominant part in the initiation of such mergers and acquisition and their motives could be primarily self-interest.⁴ It is expected that merging mostly results in the creation or formation of larger companies or units and if those large companies merge with others, even larger units will result therefrom. The result of that large unit can be a commercial or financial institution which is capable of exerting pressure on a country's economy.⁵ Despite their popularity, most mergers and acquisitions result in financial failures and may produce results that are undesirable for the stakeholders of the company. Some consequences that are usually detrimental to investors are share underperformance, which usually takes place months after the acquisition.⁶ Success of mergers mostly depends on how well the organisations are integrated. This paper will examine mergers and acquisitions in depth, its overview, the motivation of companies to undertake mergers and acquisitions and the reason for its failures. The paper will also examine the regulations and the success of mergers and acquisitions in the United States, United Kingdom and South Africa. Lastly, the last chapter will conclude with a finding of whether mergers and acquisitions can be said to be a strategy for business growth.