Corporate mergers and acquisitions can vary considerably in the time they take to be completed. There are a number of individual steps that need to be successfully completed by two public companies before they are legally combined into a single entity. Companies usually work with an investment bank to manage the merger process including approvals, documentation, and implementation.

The entire process officially starts with an offer made by one company to another, but both companies will likely be involved in closed-door discussions about the proposed merger before any official announcement of a merger proposal is made. Once the merger is officially proposed, the financial details are specified and then distributed to the shareholders of both companies. At this point, the shareholders must vote to approve the merger. Assuming the required votes are obtained from both sides, the merger is typically reviewed by government authorities to determine whether it conforms to antitrust laws. The length of time this process takes can vary considerably from one merger to another depending on the size and complexity of the companies involved, their industry and the geographic locations in which they operate.

As companies go through the merger process, the merger timeline is often an important highlight. Executives will typically discuss merger details and field ongoing questions from analysts in quarterly earnings reports. Synergies are typically expected from a corporate merger which result from the combination of key business areas and the reduction of costs. It can take multiple quarters or years for businesses to merge their operations and combine their financial reporting structures. One of the key elements along with the timeline for a merger is the accretion date which is the timeframe for which the company expects to break even and begin profiting from the business deal.

To learn more, check out The Basics of Mergers and Acquisitions.