Patience Wheatcroft

In the best M&A deals, a clever bidder takes over an underperforming company

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It is not comprehensive, omitting to mention that the manufacture of yoghurt was to be protected from foreign predators, but the vigour of the response to PepsiCo's mooted interest in Danone is testimony to the fact that the Elysée Palace has sensed that a corporate buying spree is gathering steam.

Britain has long given up the principle of local. The City was quick to succumb to foreign bidders and was then hardly likely to discourage the sale of much of corporate Britain. Yet, apart from those who collect the fees for making the deals, few would contend that acquisitions generally enhance shareholder value. No-one can say what would have happened had these deals not gone through, but plenty of them have failed to deliver on what was promised. Often, this is because they have been shaped as mergers when what was required was an outright takeover.

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