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What is to 'Consolidate'

To consolidate is to combine assets, liabilities and other financial items of two or more entities into one. In the context of financial accounting, the term consolidate often refers to the consolidation of financial statements, where all subsidiaries report under the umbrella of a parent company. Consolidation also refers to the merger and acquisition of smaller companies into larger companies.

BREAKING DOWN 'Consolidate'

Consolidation involves taking multiple accounts or businesses and combining the information into a single point. In financial accounting, consolidated financial statements provide a comprehensive view of the financial position of both the parent company and its subsidiaries, rather than one company's stand-alone position. In business, consolidation occurs when two or more businesses combine to form one new entity, with the expectation of increasing market share and profitability and the benefit of combining talent, industry expertise or technology.

Consolidation in Financing

In consolidated accounting, the information from a parent company and its subsidiaries is treated as though it comes from a single entity. The cumulative assets from the business, as well as any revenue or expenses, are recorded on the balance sheet of the parent company. This information is also reported on the income statement of the parent company.

This is used when the parent company holds a majority stake by controlling more than 50% of the subsidiary business. Parent companies that hold more than 20% qualify to use consolidated accounting. If parent company holds less than a 20% stake, it must use equity method accounting.

Consolidation of Businesses

Businesses consolidate when two or more small businesses combine to form one larger organization. Also referred to as amalgamation, consolidation can result in the creation of an entirely new business entity or a subsidiary of a larger firm. This approach may combine competing firms into one cooperative business.

For example, in 2015, Target Corp. moved to sell the pharmacy portion of its business to CVS Health, a major drugstore chain. As part of the agreement, CVS Health intended to rebrand the pharmacies operating within Target stores, changing the name to the MinuteClinic. The consolidation was friendly in nature and lessened overall competition in the pharmacy marketplace.

A consolidation differs from a merger in that the consolidated companies may also result in a new entity, whereas in a merger, one company absorbs the other and remains in existence while the other is dissolved.

Consumer Debt Consolidation

Within the consumer market, consolidation includes using a single loan to pay off all of the debts that are part of the consolidation. This transfers the debt owed from multiple creditors, allowing the consumer to have a single point of payment to pay down the total. Often, debt consolidation achieves more manageable monthly payments and may result in a lower overall interest rate.

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