stories filed under: "mergers"
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Nov 5th 2007 6:01pm
For years, we've joked about how Wall Street's dealmakers don't care if they're merging companies or breaking them apart: they have a script for both. When there are merger opportunities, it's all about the "synergies" of companies working together. When it's time to break them apart, you talk about "releasing shareholder value" that is hidden within the larger company. All it really means is another opportunity for another deal -- with the Wall Street folks taking their cut whichever direction things are going in. The latest to go through this pendulum is Barry Diller's IAC -- which has always been an odd conglomeration of internet companies. For years, we've wondered where all the synergies were that Diller promised the world when he started putting them all together -- and the latest answer apparently is that even Diller doesn't know. He's going to break the company up into five separate pieces in order to, yes, you guessed it: "increase shareholder value." While some are saying that this is classic Barry Diller -- a sign that he's more of a dealmaker than an executive, the timing of this might not be so crazy. After all, Diller did most of his buying during the dot com downturn, when many of the properties were undervalued. These days, with all the talk of the new bubble, and new enthusiasm on Wall St. for internet plays, the opposite is true. So while we tend to snicker at the "merge 'em up, break 'em down" thought process that goes into these efforts, in this case, it might actually make sense.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Oct 5th 2007 4:09pm
from the next! dept
In the past, we've joked about Wall Street's amazing ability to convince companies that they need to acquire each other and merge to bring out "synergies" and then convince those same firms to later break themselves up into separate companies to "release shareholder value." It's all part of the shell game, where the investment bankers on Wall Street get to take out their huge fees whether a company is being built up or broken apart. It looks like the latest such target may be Yahoo, as an analyst at Sanford Bernstein has kicked off the discussion by noting that the company could release shareholder value by breaking itself up into three companies. Which companies? Well, it would want to split up the search and the advertising parts of the business... you know, the same parts of the business that folks convinced Yahoo it needed to buy four years ago if it was going to successfully take on Google. Now, of course, the only way for it to successfully take on Google is to get rid of those businesses. Luckily, the folks on Wall Street will happily help with both ends of the transaction for a
small significant fee. Sometimes I think I'm in the wrong business.
Wed, Jul 25th 2007 7:44pm
from the the-fun-never-ends dept
While comments filed with the FCC in support of the merger of satellite radio companies XM and Sirius outnumber those opposing it by nearly a four to one margin, they're not seen by many people to carry the same influence as those arguing against the merger. For instance, more than 70 Congressmen have told the heads of the FCC, DOJ and FTC that they should block the merger, and as stock pundit Jim Cramer points out, this has little to do with anything other than legislators' self-interest, since they don't want to upset local broadcasters in their constituencies. He adds that since XM and Sirius are up against such powerful opposition, they've had to go for broke, by announcing pricing plans that, if the merger's approved, could slice their average per-subscriber revenue. The plans offer consumers the ability to choose channels on an a la carte basis -- a move that looks like it's designed to appeal to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, for whom indecent programming is always an issue. At the outset of the merger announcement, Martin said that XM and Sirius would have to show that "consumers would clearly be better off with both more choice and affordable prices" before the FCC would approve the deal. These new plans would appear to deliver consumers more choices and control over the content they receive, and do so at lower prices. But it's still hard to see that being enough to overcome politicians' objections, fueled by the National Association of Broadcasters' clout.
Tue, Jul 17th 2007 7:31pm
from the forget-what-ya-heard dept
Two of the big pending M&A deals right now are Google's purchase of DoubleClick and the proposed tie-up between XM and Sirius. In the case of Google and DoubleClick, it's been assumed that the deal will clear regulatory muster, despite opposition to it from Microsoft. The Sirius-XM deal, however, has been seen as a longshot, in part because of the aggressive opposition to it from terrestrial broadcasters. But two new reports are pouring cold water on the conventional wisdom. An analyst at Bear Stearns believes that the satellite radio deal is looking increasingly likely, a conclusion arrived at by monitoring hearings and reviewing FCC documents. Meanwhile, a Washington policy expert believes that the FTC is likely to block the DoubleClick deal (via Tech Trader Daily), in light of the high concentration of online advertising power that Google would obtain through the deal. Whether you agree with his conclusion or not, he does argue persuasively that this market has indeed become quite concentrated. He also ends with the seemingly inevitable conclusion that Google is set to replace Microsoft as the chief target among the antitrust set.
Mon, Jul 16th 2007 12:57pm
from the the-more-things-change... dept
Matthew Lasar writes in to let us know that terrestrial radio behemoth Clear Channel says that if the XM/Sirius merger is allowed to proceed, restrictions on terrestrial radio station ownership should be lifted. Once again, by tying the two issues together, Clear Channel is making it clear that terrestrial broadcasters do compete with the satellite radio companies. It's hardly surprising to see Clear Channel take this stance, though, as it's consistently lobbied for the ownership limits (which state that a company can own no more than eight stations per market) to be lifted. The details from a Clear Channel exec's letter to the FCC are slightly amusing. The guy says "With poorer content, local radio stations will lose listeners, and, consequently, advertisers, not because local radio would face a better competitor after the merger, but because it would be able to offer only an inferior product to listeners and advertisers." His comments came in the context of saying that a merged XM-Sirius would lock up all kinds of content through exclusive deals, making it unavailable to terrestrial stations. But taken more broadly, you have to say that the guy knows what he's talking about, given Clear Channel's experience in churning out inferior products with little success.