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Big Deal: 2000 and Beyond

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Big Deal: 2000 and Beyond

Mergers and Acquisitions in the Digital Age

Warner Books,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Behind the M&A curtain.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


M&A tycoon Bruce Wasserstein has not just studied the high-stakes world of corporate mergers & acquisitions, he’s lived it. As head of M&A at First Boston and then as leader of his own firm, Wasserstein has played a role in many pivotal corporate marriages. In these pages, Wasserstein comprehensively examines the hows and whys of history’s largest deals. While skirting the fundamental question of whether mergers & acquisitions enhance or depress shareholder value over the long term, Wasserstein conveys an overwhelming amount of information about the dynamics and tactics that define M&A. The book is enormous and encyclopedic, so it might serve better as a reference text than a straight-through read. getAbstract strongly recommends this book for both its compelling historic accounts of Wall Street’s most important deals and deal makers and its detailed breakdown of how the game actually works.


Elemental Forces

Modern financial history is punctuated with dramatic mergers. The $129 billion merger of MCI WorldCom with Sprint challenges AT&T for global telecommunications leadership. The $41 billion Viacom-CBS merger creates a media and entertainment giant. The merger of Travelers and Citicorp forms a global financial institution managing more than $700 billion in 100 countries.

Certain basic characteristics, embodied in five elemental forces, have driven the merger process since the rapid industrial expansion of the 19th century. Today’s mergers are vastly bigger, but the Five Pistons ruled then and rule now. They are: regulatory and political reform, technological change, fluctuations in financial markets, the role of leadership, and the drive for scale.

  1. Regulatory and political reform creates a climate that stimulates mergers and acquisition. For example, deregulation opened the door for several industries to become more competitive. In the last few years, this included media, telecommunications, financial services and utilities, where deregulation opened up an Oklahoma land rush of deals.
  2. Technology creates new markets...

About the Author

Bruce Wasserstein is the chairman and CEO of Wasserstein Perella & Company. He worked as a lawyer at Cravath, Swaine & Moore and was co-head of investment banking at First Boston before starting his own firm in 1988. He published an earlier version of this book in 1998 as Mergers and Acquisitions in the Digital Age.

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