The 10 largest M&A deals of all time

08 Feb 2012 | 14:56
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As investors gear up for what would be one of the largest mergers ever, between Glencore and Xstrata, we take a look back at the biggest deals done to date.

The Glencore-Xstrata deal would create a $90bn commodities giant under the current terms, although there is considerable opposition to the price being offered for Xstrata's shares.

In its current state the deal would break into the top ten largest mergers of all time, according to data from the Institute of Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances, rivalling momentous deals including RBS' now infamous takeover of ABN Amro.

Below are the current top ten:

1. Vodafone AirTouch's acquisition of Mannesmann AG for $202.8bn in 1999. (Vodafone was re-branded Vodafone Airtouch in early 1999 after it bought AirTouch Communications, it then reverted to its former name Vodafone Group in 2001).

Vodafone Airtouch pursued German mobile network provider Mannesmann in what was seen as a hostile takeover, provoking strong protest from the Germans, who were unhappy about a UK company taking a dominant role in its domestic market. Later the conglomerate was broken up and all manufacturing-related operations were sold off.

2. America Online (AOL)'s acquisition of Time Warner for $164.7bn in 2000.

At the time, the deal was described as the "deal of the millennium" and the two companies hoped to become the largest media company in the world. However, the partnership was hit hard when the dotcom bubble burst and subsequently broke up.

3. Shareholders' acquisition of Philip Morris International for $107.6bn in 2008.

Until a spin-off in March 2008, US cigarette company Philip Morris International was an operating company of Altria Group. Altria said in 2008 that PMI would have more "freedom" outside the constraints of US corporate ownership in terms of potential litigation and legislative restrictions to develop sales in emerging markets. The move saw shareholders in Altria given shares in PMI, which was listed on the London Stock Exchange and other markets.

4. RBS' acquisition of ABN-AMRO for $98.5bn in 2007.

In 2007, the Royal Bank of Scotland proposed a deal which was to become infamous across the world.

Leading a consortium which included Belgium's Fortis bank and Spain's Banco Santander, RBS edged out rival Barclays who had also been eyeing up ABN.

However, the takeover turned sour a year later as the credit crunch hit home and RBS was forced to turn to the UK taxpayer to prevent its collapse.

As MPs picked apart the messy near-collapse of the bank years later, tales emerged of cheering and jubilation at Barclays' head office on the day the deal for ABN went through.

5. Pfizer's acquisition of Pharmacia Corporation in 2003, valued at $89.2bn.

The research-based pharmaceutical giant Pfizer bought Pharmacia Corporation for $89.2bn in 2003, in an attempt to expand its product base and develop new medicines. Together they forged one of the world's fastest growing and highly valued pharmaceutical companies, propelling Pfizer to world-leader status.

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Categories: Economics / Markets

Topics: MergersGlaxosmithkline VodafoneRoyal dutch shell

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