Deals from Hell. M&A Lessons that Rise Above the Ashes

  • ID: 2209319
  • Book
  • 432 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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"Whether you are an investor or dealmaker, corporate executive or aspiring MBA looking for a career on Wall Street, you are sure to find this book both troublesome and cannot be otherwise when you carefully examine a series of M&A ′train wrecks′ through the same lens as Prof. Bruner, a creative teacher in the field of M&A, who has been able to extract the hard, instructive lessons from these disasters."

—From the Foreword by Arthur Levitt, Jr., former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and author of Take On the Street: What Wall Street and Corporate America Don′t Want You to Know

"Deals from Hell is a fresh and interesting look at the M&A game written by Prof. Robert Bruner, a leading authority on the topic. He studies failures and from this unique perspective, teaches us the pitfalls to avoid as well as the positive actions for success. The case histories illuminated herein are worthy instruction for all CEOs and their top management team."
—Tom Copeland, Managing Director of Corporate Finance, Monitor Group

"There is a very fine line between M&A heaven and hell—and it is no surprise that the devil is in the detail. Contrary to conventional wisdom, mergers work, on average, as Bob Bruner documents—and the reasons why are often worthy of more careful study than appears beneath the headlines of the popular press. Bruner drills down on disasters and successes like no one else—and leaves investors and M&A dealmakers with a truly balanced scorecard of important lessons to ponder."
—Charles D. Ellis, author of Winning the Loser′s Game and Capital: The Story of Long–Term Investment Excellence

"While the average return to M&A acquirers is a matter of some controversy, it is beyond question that many acquisitions work well and many work badly. This landmark book is the finest available for separating the likely successes from the likely failures."
—Bruce C.N. Greenwald, Robert Heilbrunn Professor of Finance and Asset Management, Columbia Business School, and coauthor of Value Investing: From Graham to Buffett and Beyond

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Foreword by Arthur Levitt, Jr.


1. Introduction.

I. The Foundations of M&A Failure.

2. Where M&A Pays and Where It Strays:A Survey of Research.

3. Profiling the Outlying M&A Deals.

4. Real Disasters and M&A Failure.

II. Case Studies of M&A Failure.

5. February 1968: Merger of the Pennsylvania and New York Central Railroads.

6. December 1986: The Leveraged Buyout of Revco Drug Stores.

7. September 1989: The Acquisition of Columbia Pictures by Sony Corporation.

8. September 1991: The Acquisition of NCR Corporation by AT&T Corporation.

9. December 1993: Renault’s Proposed Merger with Volvo.

10. December 1994: The Acquisition of Snapple by Quaker Oats.

11. May 1999: Mattel’s Acquisition of The Learning Company.

12. January 2001: Merger of AOL and Time Warner.

13. December 2001: Dynegy’s Proposed Merger with Enron.

14. January 2002: Acquisition Program of Tyco International.

III. Avoiding the Deal from Hell.

15. Conclusions and Implications.

16. Memo to the CEO:A Coda on Growth.


About the Author.


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"engages in the kind of candid thinking that has long been missing from the high stack of books." (The Wall Street Journal, May 26, 2005)

"According to the author, six key elements embedded in disasters are ′complexity, tight coupling, management choices, cognitive biases, business not as usual, and failure of the operational team.′ In unison, these are lethal, he cautions. ′Systems that adapt well to error anticipate it, actively seek information, use checkpoints to control the spread of error, and invite countervailing forces to oppose error.′ So, what′s the insight for businesses? ′Design of organisation structures and business processes could employ similar principles to thwart M&A failures,′ counsels Bruner. Part II of the book has ten case studies, including AOL–Time Warner, Mattel–The Learning Company, and Renault–Volvo. Part III is about `conclusions and implications′. Bruner dins in before parting: ′The growth that matters is growth in economic value. The rest is smoke.′ Fiery read!" –– D. Murali, The Hindu Business Line

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