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Examples of the Most Successful Company Mergers and Acquisitions of All Time

Show Notes Of Podcast

A list of the biggest mergers and acquisitions

  • Vodafone and Mannesmann merger (1999) - $202.8B
  • AOL and Time Warner merger (2000) - $182B
  • Gaz de France and Suez merger (2007) - $182B
  • Verizon and Vodafone acquisition (2013) - $130B
  • Dow Chemical and DuPont merger (2015) - $130B
  • United Technologies and Raytheon merger (2019) - $121B
  • AT&T and Time Warner merger (2018) - $108B
  • AB InBev and SABMiller merger (2015) - $107B
  • Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham merger (2000) - $107B
  • Heinz and Kraft merger (2015) - $100B
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb and Celgene merger (2019) - $95B
  • Royal Dutch Petroleum and Shell merger (2004) - $95B
  • Pfizer and Warner Lambert merger (1999) - $90B

When it comes to mergers and acquisitions, bigger doesn’t always mean better - the examples we included in our list of the biggest M&A failures is evidence of that.

In fact, all things being equal, the bigger a deal becomes, the bigger the likelihood that the buyer is overpaying for the target company.

But that’s not to say that big cannot be beautiful! Just as the chances of overpaying rise, so too do the chances of creating a company that creates a new impetus in its industry, forcing everybody else to up their game in the process.

So, whether you like mega deals or not, we cannot afford to ignore them. Here are the 13 biggest M&A deals of all time and examples of most successful mergers and acquisitions:

The biggest mergers and acquisitions in history

When it comes to mergers and acquisitions, bigger doesn’t always mean better - the examples we included in our list of the biggest M&A failures is evidence of that.

In fact, all things being equal, the bigger a deal becomes, the bigger the likelihood that the buyer is overpaying for the target company.

But that’s not to say that big cannot be beautiful! Just as the chances of overpaying rise, so too do the chances of creating a company that creates a new impetus in its industry, forcing everybody else to up their game in the process.

So, whether you like mega deals or not, we cannot afford to ignore them. Here are the 13 biggest M&A deals of all time and examples of most successful mergers and acquisitions:

The biggest mergers and acquisitions in history

A list of the biggest mergers and acquisitions

  • Vodafone and Mannesmann merger (1999) - $202.8B
  • AOL and Time Warner merger (2000) - $182B
  • Gaz de France and Suez merger (2007) - $182B
  • Verizon and Vodafone acquisition (2013) - $130B
  • Dow Chemical and DuPont merger (2015) - $130B
  • United Technologies and Raytheon merger (2019) - $121B
  • AT&T and Time Warner merger (2018) - $108B
  • AB InBev and SABMiller merger (2015) - $107B
  • Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham merger (2000) - $107B
  • Heinz and Kraft merger (2015) - $100B
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb and Celgene merger (2019) - $95B
  • Royal Dutch Petroleum and Shell merger (2004) - $95B
  • Pfizer and Warner Lambert merger (1999) - $90B

Famous examples of company mergers and acquisitions

Reading this list, it can seem that most megadeals are doomed to failure (at least from the perspective of their shareholders). But thankfully, that just isn’t the case. Some of the biggest deals of the past 20 years have been outstanding successes.

Many of these deals have achieved what they set out to do at the outset - to reshape industries on the strength of a single deal.

So, let's take a closer look at the largest mergers in history.

1. Vodafone and Mannesmann acquisition (1999) - $202.8B

As of January 2021 the largest acquisition was the takeover of Mannesmann by Vodafone occurred in 2000, and was worth ~$203 billion. Vodafone, a mobile operator based in the United Kingdom, acquired Mannesmann, a German-owned industrial conglomerate company.

This deal made Vodafone the world’s largest mobile operator and set the scene for dozens of megal deals in the mobile telecommunications space in the years that followed. This is the largest mergers and acquisitions transaction in history.  

the biggest acquisition in history

2. AOL and Time Warner merger (2000) - $182B

When we mentioned at the outset of this article that ‘big doesn’t always mean better’, the famous merger of AOL and Time Warner in 2000 is a case in point. In little over two decades, the deal has become cemented as the textbook example of how not to conduct M&A.

It featured everything from overpaying to strong cultural differences and even, with the benefit of hindsight, two large media companies who just weren’t sure where the media landscape was headed.

3. Gaz de France and Suez merger (2007) - $182B

France loves its national champions - the large French companies that compete on a world stage, waving the tricolor. It was no surprise then, when Nicholas Sarkozy, President of France in 2007, stepped in to save this merger.

That’s right - a President playing the role of part-time investment banker. These days, Suez is one of the oil and gas ‘majors’, although the fact that the company’s share price hovers very close to where it was a decade and a half ago tells us everything of what investors thought of the deal.

4. Verizon and Vodafone acquisition (2013) - $130B

Vodafone has been involved in so many transactions over the past 20 years that they should be getting quite efficient at the process at this stage. The $130B deal in 2013 allowed Verizon to pay for its US wireless division.

At the time, the deal was the third largest in history - two of which Vodafone had partaken in. From Verizon’s perspective, it gave the company full control over its wireless division, ending an often fraught relationship with Vodafone that lasted for over a decade.

5. Dow Chemical and DuPont merger (2015) - $130B

When Dow Chemical and DuPont announced they were merging in 2015, everyone sat up and took notice; the merger would create the largest chemicals company in the world.

Shortly after the deal was completed, in 2018, the company was already generating revenue of $86B a year - but it didn’t last long: In 2019, management announced that the company would spin off into three separate companies, each with a separate focus. 

6. United Technologies and Raytheon merger (2019) - $121B

The classic so-called “merger of equals.” The long-term impact of the United Technologies and Raytheon deal has yet to be felt, given that the deal closed in the first half of 2020 (not the best of years to close a transaction in).

Raytheon Technologies, as the merged company is called, claims that the deal creates a company that will “define the future of aerospace and defense.” So far, investors seem less convinced with the company’s share price taking a dip of around 25% straight after the deal closed.

7. AT&T and Time Warner merger (2018) - $108B

Not only did the proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner draw criticism from antitrust regulators when it was announced, it also brought back memories of the previous time Time Warner had been involved in a megadeal.

With the best part of two decades to learn from its mistake, and AT&T a much bigger cash generator than AOL, this deal looks like it has been better thought through than the deal that preceded it. 

8. AB InBev and SABMiller merger (2015) - $107B

If stock price is any indication of whether a deal was successful or not, then the creation of AmBev through the merger of InBev and SABMiller in 2015 certainly wasn’t.

On paper, the deal looked good - two of the world’s biggest brewers bringing a host of the world’s favorite beers into one stable.

There was just one problem - they didn’t foresee the rise of craft beers and how it would disrupt the brewing industry. Several bolt-on acquisitions of craft brewers later and the new company may finally be on track again.

9. Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham merger (2000) - $107B

The merger of the UK’s two largest pharmaceutical firms in 2000 led to what is currently the 6th largest pharmaceutical firm in the world, and the only British firm in the top 10.

However, like several deals on this list, it wasn’t received particularly well by investors and at the time of writing is trading at about 25% less than the time of the merger.

This, and a range of bolt-on acquisitions in the consumer space over the past decade, may explain why the company is planning to split into two separate companies in the coming years.

10. Heinz and Kraft merger (2015) - $100B

The merger of Heinz and Kraft - to create the Kraft Heinz Company - is yet another megadeal that has a detrimental effect on stock.

The deal has been called a “mega-mess,” with billions knocked off the stock price since the deal closed. One of the reasons has been allegations made about accounting practices at the two firms before the merger.

Another reason has been zero-based budgeting (ZBB), a strict cost cutting regime that came at a time when old brands needed to be refreshed rather than have their budgets cut back.

11. Bristol-Myers Squibb and Celgene merger (2019) - $95B

Despite the massive size of the transaction, this 2019 megadeal wasn’t a “merger of equals.” Instead, Celgene became a subsidiary of Bristol-Myers Squibb. The deal brings together two of the world’s largest cancer drug manufacturers, so hopefully the deal amounts to something much greater than the sum of the parts. 

12. Royal Dutch Petroleum and Shell merger (2004) - $95B

This merger was a slightly unorthodox one in that both companies had previously been the same company before splitting (albeit, over a century before), and each one held stock in a pre-existing company Royal Dutch Shell.

The point is that the merger made sense as it reduced several layers of management and increased the company’s asset base. Furthermore, it came right before oil hit its historic highs before the financial crash of 2008. The combined company is today one of the few European oil and gas majors.

13. Pfizer and Warner Lambert merger (1999) - $90B

Pfizer had their eye on Warner-Lambert because of a highly demanded cholesterol medication Lipitor. “Pfizer had commercial rights to Lipitor, but Pfizer was splitting profits on it with Warner-Lambert, and in 1999, Warner-Lambert sued Pfizer to end their licensing pact.”

The acquisition created the second largest drug company, took three months, and Pfizer obtained control of Lipitor’s profits, which amounted to over $13 billion.

Bonus: examples of smaller but really successful mergers and acquisitions

1. Facebook’s and Whatsapp acquisition (2014) - $22B

Take the example of Facebook’s acquisition of Whatsapp in 2014 for $22B. Although the internet was awash with analysts using the word “overpaid”, time - and the fact that the platform has 70 million users in the US alone - have proven them wrong.

The app also provides  potential for Facebook to bring more businesses onto its advertising program, with thousands of businesses coming onto the platform every day.

2. Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade merger (2019)

Elsewhere, the merger of Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade in 2019 looks like it will be a long-term value generator. That’s already reflected in the stock price, which is significantly higher than when the deal was announced.

The merger gives the combined company a massive online presence in the online brokerage industry. And with trading fees falling precipitously, it’s not hard to see how scale will become increasingly important.

3. Salesforce and Slack acquisition (2021) - $27.7B

Finally, although the deal has just closed, the acquisition of Slack by Salesforce for a reported fee of $27.7B looks to be a winning combination.

The deal is the second biggest of all time for a software company (the largest being IBM’s 2019 acquisition of RedHat) but already looks like it has the potential to generate massive synergies for both companies.

Time will tell, but this one looks like it could be a winner.

Useful tips

If you want to find the latest list of mergered companies read this blog post about where to check M&A news.

Another useful resource when learning about top mergers and acquisitions is to learn about the powerhouse that funds them  10 Most Rich M&A Firms in the World - Top Investment Banks.

Final thoughts

Overall, it’s hard to argue which deal in US history is the most successful merger or acquisition due to the fact that sometimes the full value and potential of a deal takes years to formulate.

However, the top mergers and acquisitions take into account best practices such as robust communication, focus on the strategic goal/deal thesis, and early integration planning throughout the deal lifecycle.

Much can be learned from companies that have successfully merged with or acquired other companies.

The right technology and tools can also work to make deals more successful. DealRoom’s M&A project management software and tools aims to help teams manage their complex M&A transactions.

Whether teams need deal management software, due diligence process assistance, help with their post merger (PMI) process, or just a simple VDR, our platform provides the necessary technology and features to streamline M&A processes.

When it comes to mergers and acquisitions, bigger doesn’t always mean better - the examples we included in our list of the biggest M&A failures is evidence of that.

In fact, all things being equal, the bigger a deal becomes, the bigger the likelihood that the buyer is overpaying for the target company.

But that’s not to say that big cannot be beautiful! Just as the chances of overpaying rise, so too do the chances of creating a company that creates a new impetus in its industry, forcing everybody else to up their game in the process.

So, whether you like mega deals or not, we cannot afford to ignore them. Here are the 13 biggest M&A deals of all time and examples of most successful mergers and acquisitions:

The biggest mergers and acquisitions in history

A list of the biggest mergers and acquisitions

  • Vodafone and Mannesmann merger (1999) - $202.8B
  • AOL and Time Warner merger (2000) - $182B
  • Gaz de France and Suez merger (2007) - $182B
  • Verizon and Vodafone acquisition (2013) - $130B
  • Dow Chemical and DuPont merger (2015) - $130B
  • United Technologies and Raytheon merger (2019) - $121B
  • AT&T and Time Warner merger (2018) - $108B
  • AB InBev and SABMiller merger (2015) - $107B
  • Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham merger (2000) - $107B
  • Heinz and Kraft merger (2015) - $100B
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb and Celgene merger (2019) - $95B
  • Royal Dutch Petroleum and Shell merger (2004) - $95B
  • Pfizer and Warner Lambert merger (1999) - $90B

Famous examples of company mergers and acquisitions

Reading this list, it can seem that most megadeals are doomed to failure (at least from the perspective of their shareholders). But thankfully, that just isn’t the case. Some of the biggest deals of the past 20 years have been outstanding successes.

Many of these deals have achieved what they set out to do at the outset - to reshape industries on the strength of a single deal.

So, let's take a closer look at the largest mergers in history.

1. Vodafone and Mannesmann acquisition (1999) - $202.8B

As of January 2021 the largest acquisition was the takeover of Mannesmann by Vodafone occurred in 2000, and was worth ~$203 billion. Vodafone, a mobile operator based in the United Kingdom, acquired Mannesmann, a German-owned industrial conglomerate company.

This deal made Vodafone the world’s largest mobile operator and set the scene for dozens of megal deals in the mobile telecommunications space in the years that followed. This is the largest mergers and acquisitions transaction in history.  

the biggest acquisition in history

2. AOL and Time Warner merger (2000) - $182B

When we mentioned at the outset of this article that ‘big doesn’t always mean better’, the famous merger of AOL and Time Warner in 2000 is a case in point. In little over two decades, the deal has become cemented as the textbook example of how not to conduct M&A.

It featured everything from overpaying to strong cultural differences and even, with the benefit of hindsight, two large media companies who just weren’t sure where the media landscape was headed.

3. Gaz de France and Suez merger (2007) - $182B

France loves its national champions - the large French companies that compete on a world stage, waving the tricolor. It was no surprise then, when Nicholas Sarkozy, President of France in 2007, stepped in to save this merger.

That’s right - a President playing the role of part-time investment banker. These days, Suez is one of the oil and gas ‘majors’, although the fact that the company’s share price hovers very close to where it was a decade and a half ago tells us everything of what investors thought of the deal.

4. Verizon and Vodafone acquisition (2013) - $130B

Vodafone has been involved in so many transactions over the past 20 years that they should be getting quite efficient at the process at this stage. The $130B deal in 2013 allowed Verizon to pay for its US wireless division.

At the time, the deal was the third largest in history - two of which Vodafone had partaken in. From Verizon’s perspective, it gave the company full control over its wireless division, ending an often fraught relationship with Vodafone that lasted for over a decade.

5. Dow Chemical and DuPont merger (2015) - $130B

When Dow Chemical and DuPont announced they were merging in 2015, everyone sat up and took notice; the merger would create the largest chemicals company in the world.

Shortly after the deal was completed, in 2018, the company was already generating revenue of $86B a year - but it didn’t last long: In 2019, management announced that the company would spin off into three separate companies, each with a separate focus. 

6. United Technologies and Raytheon merger (2019) - $121B

The classic so-called “merger of equals.” The long-term impact of the United Technologies and Raytheon deal has yet to be felt, given that the deal closed in the first half of 2020 (not the best of years to close a transaction in).

Raytheon Technologies, as the merged company is called, claims that the deal creates a company that will “define the future of aerospace and defense.” So far, investors seem less convinced with the company’s share price taking a dip of around 25% straight after the deal closed.

7. AT&T and Time Warner merger (2018) - $108B

Not only did the proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner draw criticism from antitrust regulators when it was announced, it also brought back memories of the previous time Time Warner had been involved in a megadeal.

With the best part of two decades to learn from its mistake, and AT&T a much bigger cash generator than AOL, this deal looks like it has been better thought through than the deal that preceded it. 

8. AB InBev and SABMiller merger (2015) - $107B

If stock price is any indication of whether a deal was successful or not, then the creation of AmBev through the merger of InBev and SABMiller in 2015 certainly wasn’t.

On paper, the deal looked good - two of the world’s biggest brewers bringing a host of the world’s favorite beers into one stable.

There was just one problem - they didn’t foresee the rise of craft beers and how it would disrupt the brewing industry. Several bolt-on acquisitions of craft brewers later and the new company may finally be on track again.

9. Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham merger (2000) - $107B

The merger of the UK’s two largest pharmaceutical firms in 2000 led to what is currently the 6th largest pharmaceutical firm in the world, and the only British firm in the top 10.

However, like several deals on this list, it wasn’t received particularly well by investors and at the time of writing is trading at about 25% less than the time of the merger.

This, and a range of bolt-on acquisitions in the consumer space over the past decade, may explain why the company is planning to split into two separate companies in the coming years.

10. Heinz and Kraft merger (2015) - $100B

The merger of Heinz and Kraft - to create the Kraft Heinz Company - is yet another megadeal that has a detrimental effect on stock.

The deal has been called a “mega-mess,” with billions knocked off the stock price since the deal closed. One of the reasons has been allegations made about accounting practices at the two firms before the merger.

Another reason has been zero-based budgeting (ZBB), a strict cost cutting regime that came at a time when old brands needed to be refreshed rather than have their budgets cut back.

11. Bristol-Myers Squibb and Celgene merger (2019) - $95B

Despite the massive size of the transaction, this 2019 megadeal wasn’t a “merger of equals.” Instead, Celgene became a subsidiary of Bristol-Myers Squibb. The deal brings together two of the world’s largest cancer drug manufacturers, so hopefully the deal amounts to something much greater than the sum of the parts. 

12. Royal Dutch Petroleum and Shell merger (2004) - $95B

This merger was a slightly unorthodox one in that both companies had previously been the same company before splitting (albeit, over a century before), and each one held stock in a pre-existing company Royal Dutch Shell.

The point is that the merger made sense as it reduced several layers of management and increased the company’s asset base. Furthermore, it came right before oil hit its historic highs before the financial crash of 2008. The combined company is today one of the few European oil and gas majors.

13. Pfizer and Warner Lambert merger (1999) - $90B

Pfizer had their eye on Warner-Lambert because of a highly demanded cholesterol medication Lipitor. “Pfizer had commercial rights to Lipitor, but Pfizer was splitting profits on it with Warner-Lambert, and in 1999, Warner-Lambert sued Pfizer to end their licensing pact.”

The acquisition created the second largest drug company, took three months, and Pfizer obtained control of Lipitor’s profits, which amounted to over $13 billion.

Bonus: examples of smaller but really successful mergers and acquisitions

1. Facebook’s and Whatsapp acquisition (2014) - $22B

Take the example of Facebook’s acquisition of Whatsapp in 2014 for $22B. Although the internet was awash with analysts using the word “overpaid”, time - and the fact that the platform has 70 million users in the US alone - have proven them wrong.

The app also provides  potential for Facebook to bring more businesses onto its advertising program, with thousands of businesses coming onto the platform every day.

2. Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade merger (2019)

Elsewhere, the merger of Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade in 2019 looks like it will be a long-term value generator. That’s already reflected in the stock price, which is significantly higher than when the deal was announced.

The merger gives the combined company a massive online presence in the online brokerage industry. And with trading fees falling precipitously, it’s not hard to see how scale will become increasingly important.

3. Salesforce and Slack acquisition (2021) - $27.7B

Finally, although the deal has just closed, the acquisition of Slack by Salesforce for a reported fee of $27.7B looks to be a winning combination.

The deal is the second biggest of all time for a software company (the largest being IBM’s 2019 acquisition of RedHat) but already looks like it has the potential to generate massive synergies for both companies.

Time will tell, but this one looks like it could be a winner.

Useful tips

If you want to find the latest list of mergered companies read this blog post about where to check M&A news.

Another useful resource when learning about top mergers and acquisitions is to learn about the powerhouse that funds them  10 Most Rich M&A Firms in the World - Top Investment Banks.

Final thoughts

Overall, it’s hard to argue which deal in US history is the most successful merger or acquisition due to the fact that sometimes the full value and potential of a deal takes years to formulate.

However, the top mergers and acquisitions take into account best practices such as robust communication, focus on the strategic goal/deal thesis, and early integration planning throughout the deal lifecycle.

Much can be learned from companies that have successfully merged with or acquired other companies.

The right technology and tools can also work to make deals more successful. DealRoom’s M&A project management software and tools aims to help teams manage their complex M&A transactions.

Whether teams need deal management software, due diligence process assistance, help with their post merger (PMI) process, or just a simple VDR, our platform provides the necessary technology and features to streamline M&A processes.

What is DealRoom?

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