Exactly a week ago, we wrote about the latest round of companies breaking apart to "unlock shareholder value" and noted that it often came very soon after the conglomerates were built on mergers that were talked up on "synergies" of having these companies together. We cynically pointed out that the real reason this happens is that Wall Street makes a lot of money on both ends. They get fees for merging companies, and for spinning off pieces. But how much? Business columnist Allan Sloan (who we doubt was inspired by our original piece, but we can hope) set out to find out just how much money is being paid to investment bankers for "advice." He looks at two companies: Tyco and Viacom -- both of which have bought a bunch of companies and recently spun off some companies as well, and figures that we're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. Different organizations he talks to give different answers, but it's clearly an awful lot of money for the same bunch of advisors to basically tell these companies the exact opposite of what they told them a few months earlier.
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