DEFINITION of 'Takeover'

When an acquiring company makes a bid for a target company. If the takeover goes through, the acquiring company becomes responsible for all of the target company’s operations, holdings and debt. When the target is a publicly traded company, the acquiring company will make an offer for all of the target’s outstanding shares.


A welcome takeover generally goes smoothly because both companies consider it a positive situation. In contrast, an unwelcome or hostile takeover can be quite unpleasant. The acquiring firm can use unfavorable tactics such as a dawn raid (where it buys a substantial stake in the target company as soon as the markets open, causing the target to lose control of the company before it realizes what is happening). The target firm’s management and board of directors may strongly resist takeover attempts through tactics such as a poison pill, which lets the target’s shareholders purchase more shares at a discount in order to dilute the acquirer’s holdings and make a takeover more expensive.

A takeover is virtually the same as an acquisition, except that “takeover” has a negative connotation, indicating the target does not wish to be purchased. Why would one company want to buy another company against that company’s will? The bidder might be seeking to increase its market share or to achieve economies of scale that will help it reduce its costs and thereby increase its profits. Companies that make attractive takeover targets include those that have a unique niche in a particular product or service, small companies with viable products or services but insufficient financing, a similar company in close geographic proximity where combining forces could improve efficiency and otherwise viable companies that are paying too much for debt that could be refinanced at a lower cost if a larger company with better credit took over.

  1. Unbundling

    The process of taking over a large company with several different ...
  2. Lobster Trap

    A strategy used by a target firm to prevent a hostile takeover. ...
  3. Dawn Raid

    When a firm or investor buys a substantial number of shares in ...
  4. Hostile Takeover

    The acquisition of one company (called the target company) by ...
  5. Acquisition Premium

    The difference between the estimated real value of a company ...
  6. Merger

    The combining of two or more companies, generally by offering ...
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