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A takeover in commerce refers to one company (the acquirer) purchasing another (the target). Such events resemble mergers, but without the formation of a new company.

Table of contents
1 Occurrence
2 Forms of takeover
3 Strategies


Corporate takeovers occur readily in the United States and in the United Kingdom. They do not happen often in Germany because of the dual board structure, in Japan because companies have interlocking sets of ownerships known as keiretsu or in the People's Republic of China because the state majority-owns most publicly listed companies there.

Forms of takeover


There are a variety of reasons that an acquiring company may wish to purchase another company. Some takeovers are opportunistic: the target company may simply be very reasonably priced, for one reason or another, and the acquiring company may decide that in the time period that's important to it, it will end up making money by purchasing the target company, because of its normal profitability. The massive holding company Berkshire Hathaway seems to profited very well over time by purchasing many companies opportunistically in this way.

Other takeovers are strategic in that they are thought to have secondary effects beyond the simple effect of the profitability of the target company being added to the acquiring company's profitability. For example, an acquiring company may decide to purchase a company that is profitable on its own accord but also has good distribution capabilities in new areas which the acquiring company can utilize for its own products as well. A target company might be attractive because it allows the acquiring company to enter a new market with a running start, without having to take on the risk, time, and expense of starting a new division that would compete in this new market. An acquiring company could decide to take over a competitor not only because the competitor is profitable, but in order to eliminate competition in its field and make it easier, in the long term, to raise prices; or in the belief that the combined company can be more profitable than the two companies would be separately due to a reduction of redundant functions; or, if an acquiring company has a major competitor it wants to attack, it may purchase a target company which already competes with that major competitor in some other area or product line.

Critics often charge that very large companies execute takeovers in order to boost their reported revenue (sales to customers), without giving sufficient regard to profit, which generally takes a hit when a company is acquired because of all the costs involved, and because a premium is always paid if the target company is financially healthy and not already desperate to be taken over. The widespread belief in this criticism is demonstrated by the fact that a takeover announcement typically drives up the stock price of the target company, and forces down that of the acquiring company.

The target company has several methods to avoid a takeover, if it wishes. These include legal actions, as in the case of the Hewlett-Packard purchase of Compaq, or the use of a poison pill, as set up by Transmeta.

Most dot-com companies were created for the express purpose of being taken over with a consequent immediate profit for their owners, as opposed to the usual purpose of creating a business: to create profit for its owners over time by generating cash which is paid in dividends.