A:

Most merger and acquisition (M&A) activities are carried out successfully, but from time to time, you will hear that a deal fell through as either the acquirer, target, or both parties withdrew from the deal. Three of the major reasons that mergers and acquisitions fall through are: regulatory problems, financing problems and problems relating to a company's fundamentals.

Regulatory issues typically involve a violation of government regulations. One important regulation that must be met involves antitrust and monopoly legislation. A merger or acquisition must not significantly affect the role of competition in the specific industry to ensure that the resulting company does not have a monopoly in its industry. For example, if a specific industry only has three companies providing services for the entire country, the U.S. Justice Department's antitrust division may strike down any attempted M&A activity between these three companies.

Financing problems tend to be factors with acquisitions, as opposed to mergers. An acquiring business needs to pay the target company's shareholders in order to buy the company. However, due to the size of the businesses involved, the acquirers often need to pay millions, if not billions, of dollars. In some cases, an acquirer may not be able to come up with enough cash to pay the promised price within an appropriate amount of time. In such an instance, the acquirer will need to withdraw from the deal.

Issues with the company's fundamentals can often occur when an acquiring company conducts more thorough number crunching to search for any red flags or skeletons in the target company's closet. For example, a private equity firm would probably be less interested in acquiring a company whose latest earnings have fallen substantially due to a decrease in demand for the company's products. Another example would be one party realizing that the other company may been participating in options backdating, which could lead to trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

To learn more about mergers and acquisitions, please see The Wacky World of M&As and The Basics Of Mergers And Acquisitions.

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