• WELL THAT’S JUST RUDE:  The normal etiquette when buying a company is to approach its board with a proposal. If the board refuses, things can turn hostile, with the potential buyer approaching the company’s shareholders directly.

    WELL THAT’S JUST RUDE: The normal etiquette when buying a company is to approach its board with a proposal. If the board refuses, things can turn hostile, with the potential buyer approaching the company’s shareholders directly.

  • WELL THAT’S JUST RUDE:  British aerospace and automotive giant GKN is currently fending off just such an approach from turnaround specialist Melrose, which has offered £7.4bn ($10.3bn) for the firm. While we wait to see which way that goes, here are some of the juiciest hostile takeovers of the 21st Century, and some of the closest near misses.

    WELL THAT’S JUST RUDE: British aerospace and automotive giant GKN is currently fending off just such an approach from turnaround specialist Melrose, which has offered £7.4bn ($10.3bn) for the firm. While we wait to see which way that goes, here are some of the juiciest hostile takeovers of the 21st Century, and some of the closest near misses.

  • VODAFONE-MANNESMANN:  At the height of the dot.com bubble, Vodafone was one of the biggest companies in the world, and it was hungry. The UK-based firm paid $183bn for German giant Mannesmann in 2000, in the largest deal in corporate history.

    VODAFONE-MANNESMANN: At the height of the dot.com bubble, Vodafone was one of the biggest companies in the world, and it was hungry. The UK-based firm paid $183bn for German giant Mannesmann in 2000, in the largest deal in corporate history.

  • VODAFONE-MANNESMANN:  The bid was not popular with Mannesmann’s board, which tried and failed to secure a majority stake in the new company for its own shareholders, settling for a measly 49.5%.

    VODAFONE-MANNESMANN: The bid was not popular with Mannesmann’s board, which tried and failed to secure a majority stake in the new company for its own shareholders, settling for a measly 49.5%.

  • KRAFT-CADBURY:  The 194-year old confectionary company discovered its US rival had a sweet tooth in 2009, when Kraft offered $16.3bn for the Dairy Milk and Creme Egg maker.

    KRAFT-CADBURY: The 194-year old confectionary company discovered its US rival had a sweet tooth in 2009, when Kraft offered $16.3bn for the Dairy Milk and Creme Egg maker.

  • KRAFT-CADBURY:  Cadbury rejected the bid as ‘derisory’, but was forced to concede early in 2010 when Kraft, now Mondelez, upped its offer to $21.8bn.

    KRAFT-CADBURY: Cadbury rejected the bid as ‘derisory’, but was forced to concede early in 2010 when Kraft, now Mondelez, upped its offer to $21.8bn.

  • INBEV-ANHEUSER BUSCH:  Like most takeover attempts, this 2008 bid started friendly but quickly turned hostile. There was stout resistance from America’s leading family-controlled brewer, which owned brands such as Budweiser and Michelob. Eventually though, shareholders came round to Euro-Brazilian giant InBev’s $52bn overture.

    INBEV-ANHEUSER BUSCH: Like most takeover attempts, this 2008 bid started friendly but quickly turned hostile. There was stout resistance from America’s leading family-controlled brewer, which owned brands such as Budweiser and Michelob. Eventually though, shareholders came round to Euro-Brazilian giant InBev’s $52bn overture.

  • INBEV-ANHEUSER BUSCH:  AB InBev, as it’s now known, is the largest brewer in the world, with revenues of $45bn and a portfolio that includes Stella Artois and Corona. In 2015, it made a takeover offer for closest rival SABMiller. Though initially rejected, the $103bn bid was eventually accepted before AB InBev boss Carlos Brito was forced to turn hostile yet again.

    INBEV-ANHEUSER BUSCH: AB InBev, as it’s now known, is the largest brewer in the world, with revenues of $45bn and a portfolio that includes Stella Artois and Corona. In 2015, it made a takeover offer for closest rival SABMiller. Though initially rejected, the $103bn bid was eventually accepted before AB InBev boss Carlos Brito was forced to turn hostile yet again.

  • ROCHE-GENENTECH:  Another European takeover of an American giant. Swiss pharmaceutical firm Roche already owned a majority stake in California-based Genentech, but it wanted the rest.

    ROCHE-GENENTECH: Another European takeover of an American giant. Swiss pharmaceutical firm Roche already owned a majority stake in California-based Genentech, but it wanted the rest.

  • ROCHE-GENENTECH:  After taking the unusual step of reducing its initial offer to reflect the drug-maker’s slipping share price, Roche eventually coughed up $46.8bn in 2009 for complete ownership.

    ROCHE-GENENTECH: After taking the unusual step of reducing its initial offer to reflect the drug-maker’s slipping share price, Roche eventually coughed up $46.8bn in 2009 for complete ownership.

  • MITTAL-ARCELOR:  What do you get when you combine the world’s largest and second largest steel producers? Well, the world’s largest steel producer, obviously. ArcelorMittal, which at one time produced three times more steel than its nearest competitor, was formed by the hostile takeover of Luxembourg-based Arcelor by India’s Mittal.

    MITTAL-ARCELOR: What do you get when you combine the world’s largest and second largest steel producers? Well, the world’s largest steel producer, obviously. ArcelorMittal, which at one time produced three times more steel than its nearest competitor, was formed by the hostile takeover of Luxembourg-based Arcelor by India’s Mittal.

  • MITTAL-ARCELOR:  The deal was valued at $33.6bn, and could be called a ‘hostile merger’ rather than a takoever, with several concessions required from the Indian firm to clinch the deal, such as basing the new company in Luxembourg.

    MITTAL-ARCELOR: The deal was valued at $33.6bn, and could be called a ‘hostile merger’ rather than a takoever, with several concessions required from the Indian firm to clinch the deal, such as basing the new company in Luxembourg.

  • RBS-NATWEST:  Hostile takeovers aren’t always big fish swallowing small fry. Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) was smaller than UK high street lynchpin NatWest, yet was able to acquire the bank in 2000 for £21bn ($13bn).

    RBS-NATWEST: Hostile takeovers aren’t always big fish swallowing small fry. Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) was smaller than UK high street lynchpin NatWest, yet was able to acquire the bank in 2000 for £21bn ($13bn).

  • RBS-NATWEST:  RBS kept acquiring during the 2000s, eventually becoming the biggest bank in the world. It all came crashing down in 2008, when the British government was forced to bail it out. The bank has shrunk considerably since then, but still retains the NatWest brand.

    RBS-NATWEST: RBS kept acquiring during the 2000s, eventually becoming the biggest bank in the world. It all came crashing down in 2008, when the British government was forced to bail it out. The bank has shrunk considerably since then, but still retains the NatWest brand.

  • NEAR MISS - COMCAST-DISNEY:  In 2004, Disney was in the doldrums. Frozen was still nine years off, and market weakness attracted hungry rivals. US cable giant Comcast made a $54bn hostile bid in 2004, but Disney shareholders didn’t bite.

    NEAR MISS - COMCAST-DISNEY: In 2004, Disney was in the doldrums. Frozen was still nine years off, and market weakness attracted hungry rivals. US cable giant Comcast made a $54bn hostile bid in 2004, but Disney shareholders didn’t bite.

  • NEAR MISS - COMCAST-DISNEY: Comcast later acquired NBCUniversal, and has made a bid for Sky, which Disney was due to buy as part of its acquisition of Fox. No hard feelings, eh?

    NEAR MISS - COMCAST-DISNEY: Comcast later acquired NBCUniversal, and has made a bid for Sky, which Disney was due to buy as part of its acquisition of Fox. No hard feelings, eh?

  • NEAR MISS - PFIZER-ASTRAZENECA:  Though not technically hostile, Pfizer’s $118bn bid for Astrazeneca in 2014 was a bitter pill to swallow. The Anglo-Swedish company’s shareholders eventually rejected it after a prolonged battle.

    NEAR MISS - PFIZER-ASTRAZENECA: Though not technically hostile, Pfizer’s $118bn bid for Astrazeneca in 2014 was a bitter pill to swallow. The Anglo-Swedish company’s shareholders eventually rejected it after a prolonged battle.

  • NEAR MISS - PFIZER-ASTRAZENECA:  Pfizer, which makes Viagra, later tried another mega-deal with Allergan that also came to nothing.

    NEAR MISS - PFIZER-ASTRAZENECA: Pfizer, which makes Viagra, later tried another mega-deal with Allergan that also came to nothing.

  • NEAR MISS - LLOYDS TSB-ABBEY NATIONAL:  Lloyds TSB, now separated into two banks, attempted to buy building society Abbey National in 2000-1, over the objection of its board. Eventually the UK government blocked the deal on competition grounds.

    NEAR MISS - LLOYDS TSB-ABBEY NATIONAL: Lloyds TSB, now separated into two banks, attempted to buy building society Abbey National in 2000-1, over the objection of its board. Eventually the UK government blocked the deal on competition grounds.

  • NEAR MISS - LLOYDS TSB-ABBEYNATIONAL:  Four years later, Abbey National would get gobbled up by Spain’s Santander, its brand disappearing from the high street in 2005.

    NEAR MISS - LLOYDS TSB-ABBEYNATIONAL: Four years later, Abbey National would get gobbled up by Spain’s Santander, its brand disappearing from the high street in 2005.

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The biggest hostile takeovers of the 21st century

by Adam Gale
Last Updated: 27 Feb 2018

Images: Shutterstock

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