Other Free Encyclopedias » Law Library - American Law and Legal Information » Free Legal Encyclopedia: Marque and Reprisal to Minister

Mergers and Acquisitions - Types Of Mergers, Corporate Merger Procedures, Competitive Concerns, Federal Antitrust Regulation, Merger Guidelines

corporation competition firms law

Methods by which corporations legally unify ownership of assets formerly subject to separate controls.

A merger or acquisition is a combination of two companies where one corporation is completely absorbed by another corporation. The less important company loses its identity and becomes part of the more important corporation, which retains its identity. A merger extinguishes the merged corporation, and the surviving corporation assumes all the rights, privileges, and liabilities of the merged corporation. A merger is not the same as a consolidation, in which two corporations lose their separate identities and unite to form a completely new corporation.

Federal and state laws regulate mergers and acquisitions. Regulation is based on the concern that mergers inevitably eliminate competition between the merging firms. This concern is most acute where the participants are direct rivals, because courts often presume that such arrangements are more prone to restrict output and to increase prices. The fear that mergers and acquisitions reduce competition has meant that the government carefully scrutinizes proposed mergers. On the other hand, since the 1980s, the federal government has become less aggressive in seeking the prevention of mergers.

Despite concerns about a lessening of competition, U.S. law has left firms relatively free to buy or sell entire companies or specific parts of a company. Mergers and acquisitions often result in a number of social benefits. Mergers can bring better management or technical skill to bear on underused assets. They also can produce economies of scale and scope that reduce costs, improve quality, and increase output. The possibility of a takeover can discourage company managers from behaving in ways that fail to maximize profits. A merger can enable a business owner to sell the firm to someone who is already familiar with the industry and who would be in a better position to pay the highest price. The prospect of a lucrative sale induces entrepreneurs to form new firms. Finally, many mergers pose few risks to competition.

Antitrust merger law seeks to prohibit transactions whose probable anticompetitive consequences outweigh their likely benefits. The critical time for review usually is when the merger is first proposed. This requires enforcement agencies and courts to forecast market trends and future effects. Merger cases examine past events or periods to understand each merging party's position in its market and to predict the merger's competitive impact.

FURTHER READINGS

Ginsburg, Martin D. and Jack S. Levin. 1989. Mergers, Acquisitions and Leveraged Buyouts. Chicago: Commerce Clearing House.

Marks, Mitchell Lee. 2003. Charging Back up the Hill: Workplace Recovery after Mergers, Acquisitions, and Down-sizings. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Merit System [next]

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or