Nothing in business is more shrouded in secrecy and mystery than "doing the deal." The dealmakers themselves are usually flamboyant, the sums of money involved are vast, and the number of people who are affected by the deal are many. So it's no wonder that the media loves to cover stories like the QVC/Viacom battle over Paramount or Worldcom's recent takeover bids--deals like these can dominate headlines for days. Big Deal is about this high stakes game of corporate mergers and acquisitions. Author Bruce Wasserstein, himself a participant in many of these deals through his firm Wasserstein, Perella & Co., writes a highly readable and fascinating account that covers the history, personalities, and mechanics of mergers and acquisitions.
Wasserstein sees five waves of mergers beginning in the mid-1800s: the first wave involved the building of the railroad empires; the second in the 1920s saw a period of merger mania which was fueled in part by a frothy stock market and rapid industrial growth; the third wave happened during the "Go-Go Years" of the 1960s, which witnessed the rise of the conglomerate; the fourth occurred with the hostile takeovers of the 1980s, driven by names such as Icahn, Boesky, and Milken; and finally Wasserstein sees a fifth wave happening today. He attributes the current explosion of mergers and acquisitions to the need for companies to reposition themselves in today's ever changing competitive environment.
Wasserstein peppers the book with thumbnail personality profiles of some of the big dealmakers including Barry Diller, Sumner Redstone, Carl Icahn, T. Boone Pickens, and Bernard Ebbers. He also considers the many techniques and strategies employed by the dealmakers--poison pills, proxy fights, and bear hugs. Trends such as globalization, deregulation, and profound technological change are causing mergers and acquisitions to happen more than ever, and Big Deal provides a good foundation for understanding why and how these deals happen. --Harry C. Edwards --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.