Our M&A Practice focuses on the the winners which are highly disciplined. Our research indicates that there is a difference in outcomes between acquirers and targets. Active acquirers earn consistently lower shareholder returns than those that stay on the sidelines. And companies that regularly and systematically do the most deals perform best of all.

Mergers are generally differentiated from acquisitions partly by the way in which they are financed and partly by the relative size of the companies. Various methods of financing an M&A deal exist:


Payment by cash. Such transactions are usually termed acquisitions rather than mergers because the shareholders of the target company are removed from the picture and the target comes under the (indirect) control of the bidder’s shareholders.


Payment in the form of the acquiring company’s stock, issued to the shareholders of the acquired company at a given ratio proportional to the valuation of the latter. They receive stock in the company that is purchasing the smaller subsidiary.

Financing options

There are some elements to think about when choosing the form of payment. When submitting an offer, the acquiring firm should consider other potential bidders and think strategically. The form of payment might be decisive for the seller. With pure cash deals, there is no doubt on the real value of the bid (without considering an eventual earnout). The contingency of the share payment is indeed removed. Thus, a cash offer preempts competitors better than securities. Taxes are a second element to consider and should be evaluated with the counsel of competent tax and accounting advisers. Third, with a share deal the buyer’s capital structure might be affected and the control of the buyer modified. If the issuance of shares is necessary, shareholders of the acquiring company might prevent such capital increase at the general meeting of shareholders. The risk is removed with a cash transaction. Then, the balance sheet of the buyer will be modified and the decision maker should take into account the effects on the reported financial results. For example, in a pure cash deal (financed from the company’s current account), liquidity ratios might decrease. On the other hand, in a pure stock for stock transaction (financed from the issuance of new shares), the company might show lower profitability ratios (e.g. ROA). However, economic dilution must prevail towards accounting dilution when making the choice. The form of payment and financing options are tightly linked. If the buyer pays cash, there are three main financing options:

  • Cash on hand: it consumes financial slack (excess cash or unused debt capacity) and may decrease debt rating. There are no major transaction costs.
  • Issue of debt: It consumes financial slack, may decrease debt rating and increase cost of debt. Transaction costs include underwriting or closing costs of 1% to 3% of the face value.
  • Issue of stock: it increases financial slack, may improve debt rating and reduce cost of debt. Transaction costs include fees for preparation of a proxy statement, an extraordinary shareholder meeting and registration.

If the buyer pays with stock, the financing possibilities are:

  • Issue of stock (same effects and transaction costs as described above).
  • Shares in treasury: it increases financial slack (if they don’t have to be repurchased on the market), may improve debt rating and reduce cost of debt. Transaction costs include brokerage fees if shares are repurchased in the market otherwise there are no major costs.

In general, stock will create financial flexibility. Transaction costs must also be considered but tend to affect the payment decision more for larger transactions. Finally, paying cash or with shares is a way to signal value to the other party, e.g.: buyers tend to offer stock when they believe their shares are overvalued and cash when undervalued.

Parties should also consider their accounting treatment of M&A transaction costs and ensure they comply with Department of Treasury regulations, including the applicability of the “end of the day” and “next day” rules.[22]


acquisition/takeover is the purchase of one business or company by another company or other business entity.[1] Specific acquisition targets can be identified through myriad avenues including market research, trade expos, sent up from internal business units, or supply chain analysis.[2][3] Such purchase may be of 100%, or nearly 100%, of the assets or ownership equity of the acquired entity. Consolidation/amalgamation 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.[4] 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.[5] “Serial acquirers” appear to be more successful with M&A than companies who make an acquisition only occasionally (see Douma & Schreuder, 2013, chapter 13).[6] 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).

“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.[8] 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 (see Douma & Schreuder, 2013, chapter 13).

There are also a variety of structures used in securing control over the assets of a company, which have different tax and regulatory implications: