Global Policy Forum

Worldwide Mergers and Acquisitions

When the market rides high, multinational corporations continue their merger mania. New data track the tendency of firms to merge with others outside of their "home" country. National regulatory authorities, once actively opposed to high market concentration, are posing few objections.


Articles and Documents

Key Documents | General Articles on Mergers | Industry Mergers | Financial Sector Mergers

Key Documents

Making Corporations Accountable (December 2000)

Discusses voluntary codes and regulatory approaches to the accountability of global corporate investment. A background paper for the UN Financing for Development process, written by James A. Paul and Jason Garred of Global Policy Forum.

Top 200: The Rise of Global Corporate Power (2000)

The important role in the world economy of private business was confirmed in findings published by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS). Two hundred giant corporations now control over a quarter of the world's economic activity.(Corporate Watch)

Corporate Mergers Skyrocket (2000)

Worldwatch Institute's Michael Renner argues that the trend of corporate consolidation gained significant momentum in 1999 and is likely to increase in 2000. (Vital Signs 2000)

General Articles

2005 | 2003 | 2002 | Archived Articles


South Africa Resists March of Walmart (October 10, 2011)

This June, Walmart announced its decision to acquire Massmar, a leading supermarket chain in South Africa. The multinational’s decision, however, is heavily opposed to by a coalition of unions, politicians and civil society organizations. A spokesman for the South African trade union Costau stated that “with sales of more than $405bn [more than South Africa’s GDP] in 2010 [Walmart] has massive power to dominate the world’s global supply chains, […] national retail sectors, and to dictate the conditions of trade to thousands of supply firms in other sectors.” The South African government backs the opposing coalition and has asked the country’s competition tribunal to review its approval of the Walmart-Massmart deal. (Guardian)

Africa M&A Surges to Record $44 Bln in 2010 (January 19, 2011)

Emerging markets are leading the way as mergers and acquisitions bounced back in 2010. Rapid growth in Africa has led to a doubling in corporate mergers over the past two years. With economists predicting torpid growth in developed economies for the foreseeable future, multinational firms have swept into developing markets to take advantage of accelerating growth. (Reuters)


China Seeks Known Brands to Go Global (June 30, 2005)

Rather than continue the "race to the bottom" and become the world's "low-cost factory floor," China is eyeing the global market with newfound ambition. While Japanese brands took years to gain global recognition, China is taking a shortcut through acquisitions and mergers, Chinese companies are obtaining foreign assets and "going global" with the country's own "famous brands." China has fixed its sights on a higher position in the global market. Whether or not this will help the plight of exploited Chinese laborers remains to be seen. (New York Times)


Mergers and the Supersizing of Business (October 30, 2003)

"Megamergers are back in vogue," announces the Christian Science Monitor. This article predicts that the consolidation of whole industries will make it harder for small companies to survive. Companies will further cut their costs, and workers will face supersized workloads.

On Big Media (October 10, 2003)

This Truthout commentary defends media regulation as necessary for democracy. In spite of existing US regulation, media empires like Clear Channel Media, which owns 1,200 radio stations, or big television corporations always find ways to undermine those rules for their own profit.

FDI Flows into Japan: Changing Trends and Patterns (August 27, 2003)

Japan, a traditional top global investor, experiences rising inflows of foreign direct investment. This IDEAs paper argues that this evolution reflects recent restructuring of the corporate sector, which allows cross-border mergers to penetrate the Japanese economy.

Eight Steps to Free Media (June 18, 2003)

Civil society pushes the US Congress to repeal the Federal Communications Commission's ruling to deregulate the media industry. The author outlines policy initiatives that encourage socially responsible media and prevent corporate monopoly of public airwaves. (Rutland Herald)

Media Consolidation and Corporate Power (June 2, 2003)

An interview with Walter Cronkite and other media experts examines the decision by the US Federal Communications Commission to deregulate media monopolies. According to Cronkite, "Deregulation of American media might reduce the news to entertainment, and eliminate the historic role of media as watch dog of the public interest." (Active Opposition)


EU to Maintain Tough Merger Rules (November 7, 2002)

European competition commissioner Mario Monti resists business pressure to adopt the United States' more lenient approval standards for mergers. Monti says the EU will continue to block mergers that lead to an "excessive market share." (Associated Press)

EU Court Reverses Merger Restriction (October 23, 2002)

A European court reversed the European Commission's decision to block a merger of two French electrical equipment companies. The court's reversal, the second this year, was prompted by its disapproval of the takeover review process in Brussels and could lead to more mergers. (International Herald Tribune)

29 Of Top 100 World Economic Entities Are Companies (August 13, 2002)

A new UNCTAD report reveals that transnational corporations account for 29 of the world's 100 largest economic entities. In recent years, the value-added activities of the 100 largest transnationals have grown faster than those of countries.

Handful of Corporate Raiders Transform Russia's Economy (August 13, 2002)

The New York Times reports on the growing size and influence of Russian corporations, examining their impact on small businesses and the economy as a whole. With a history of corruption and mismanagement, big business in Russia may not be "so good for the economy."

In a First, EU Court Overturns Commission's Antitrust Ruling (June 7, 2002)

In an unprecedented move, a European court has overturned a European Commission decision to block a merger. The ruling is expected to diminish the executive body's power over mergers and acquisitions. (Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)

EU Court Boosts Foreign Mergers(June 4, 2002)

In a decision that drastically curbs the power of national governments to protect privatized companies from takeover bids, the European Court of Justice ruled that restrictions by some European governments on foreign ownership of privatized companies are illegal. (BBC)

European Union Alters Merger Review Criteria (June 4, 2002)

The European Union's competition commissioner, Mario Monti, recently softened his stance on mergers. He said that the commission would be "more sympathetic to arguments that a planned merger or acquisition benefits consumers," reports the Wall Street Journal.

Those Sweet Trips to the Merger Mall (April 7, 2002)

In ever-larger mergers and acquisitions, CEOs and other executives are getting huge "retention bonuses" to push deals through regardless of the cost to shareholders. Corporate executives make millions in kickbacks while rank-and-file employees worry about losing their jobs. (New York Times)

Consolidation or Competition for Financial Regulators? (March, 2002)

The consolidation of financial regulatory agencies in the European Union to form a single powerful body may be as hazardous as the current consolidation among the corporations they regulate. (Project Syndicate)

Six Guiding Principles for Antitrust Agencies (March 18, 2002)

In an era of new challenges for antitrust, William J. Kolasky of the US Department of Justice Antitrust Division presents six guiding principles for antitrust agencies, stressing a continued need to achieve even greater "convergence" as the economy becomes increasingly global. (US Department of Justice)

Industry Mergers

2006 |2003 | 2002 | Archived Articles


Nestle Gobbles Up Jenny Craig (June 19, 2006)

This article reports on how Nestlé – a major producer of chocolate and sweets – took over Jenny Craig – a producer of weight-loss products. In a similar move, Unilever – another major food producer – bought both Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream and Slim Fast in 2000. These major food producers do not only make money by steering consumption towards processed, low nutrition value foods that cause obesity. They also make money from their customer's attempts to battle obesity. (Associated Press)


Sibneft Merger Looks Dead (December 2, 2003)

The Kremlin continuously exerts pressure on Russian oil giant Yukos, which faces legal troubles since the arrest of two of its founders. This might explain why oil company Sibneft backed off from a merger with Yukos at the last minute, contends the Moscow Times. The merger would have created the world's fourth-largest oil producer.

Vivendi, NBC Sign Agreement to Merge (October 8, 2003)

General Electric-owned NBC and Vivendi Universal merged, creating a media giant which includes Universal Picture movies and several English- and Spanish-language cable TV networks. Through this deal, NBC will acquire much more weight in competing for audiences and advertising. (Associated Press)

Air France and KLM to Merge, Becoming Europe's No. 1 Airline (October 1, 2003)

Air France and KLM plan the first cross-border merger between airlines in decades. Over the long term, this deal might speed up transformation of the European airline industry into a system similar to that of the US, with fewer and larger carriers competing over passengers. (New York Times)

The State Determined to Own Oil and Gas (September 23, 2003)

The Kremlin announced a new law returning Russia's crude and natural gas sources to federal property. This raises great concerns among foreign investors and Russian oligarchs, as such a law would hinder oligarchs from selling 25 percent of the shares of the new merger oil company YukosSibneft to American and British companies. (Pravda)

Media Giants Get Slapped (July 23, 2003)

The public successfully pressured the US House of Representatives to over-turn a Federal Communications Commission ruling that would allow one media company to reach 45% of US viewers. (Nation)

Yukos and Sibneft Merger to Cause Many Scandals (April 22, 2003)

The merger of Russian oil companies Yukos and Sibneft will form one of the world's largest oil companies. The significance of this merger goes beyond, though: Michail Khodorkovsky, Yukos' CEO, funds several big political parties of Russia, and he might use his influence to change Russian political and economic life. (Pravda)

Biotech Mergers: Cash Talks Louder Than Technology (March 5, 2003)

A loss of investor interest in biotechnology has led to a rash of takeover-mergers, as the market value of twenty two percent of biotech companies has fallen lower than their actual cash value. Subsequently, recent biotech mergers have more to do with quick profits than technology. (New York Times)


WorldCom Says Its Books Are Off By $3.8 Billion (June 26, 2002)

More than 70 mergers during the technology boom built WorldCom into a "global telecommunications giant that operates in 65 countries and employs 80,000 people" The company is now under investigation for improper accounting; its books are off by $3.8 billion. (Washington Post)

A Modest Proposal for Media Reform (June 21, 2002)

The vast concentration of power in the media industry in recent years has led to an "ad-mania" with pernicious societal and environmental effects. FAIR suggests that every commercial for food and drugs be taxed, "with the proceeds going to pay for 'truth commission' ads from independent researchers. (FAIR)

Survey Shows Opposition to Radio Consolidation (June 19, 2002)

According to a recent survey conducted by the Future of Music Coalition, an artists rights group based in Washington, "radio listeners want local disc jockeys to have more control over programming and they oppose federal laws that encourage more consolidation among radio conglomerates." (New York Times)

Big Media Mergers Raise Big Doubts (May 14, 2002)

A sluggish economy has prompted new doubts about mega-mergers between media giants. (Washington Post)

Senators Question AT&T-Comcast Merger (April 23, 2002)

Though a proposed deal between AT&T and Comcast does not present traditional antitrust concerns, the sheer size of the company could discriminate against unaffiliated programming and limit consumer choices for Internet service. (Reuters)

British National Grid and Lattice in Tie-up (April 23, 2002)

The British gas monopolies have proposed a merger to ward off competition from mainland Europe and further their ambitions in the US, reports The Guardian. Critics warn that the merger might raise regulatory concerns on "public interest" grounds.

F.C.C. Rules on Ownership Under Review (April 3, 2002)

A federal court recently ordered the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider a rule limiting two-station ownership to a few dozen of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas. The ruling is the latest in a series of legal and regulatory moves to weaken regulations limiting the size of media companies. (New York Times)

Telecom, Tangled in Its Own Web (March 24, 2002)

Securities regulators are looking at the role played by an extensive web of relationships among telecom companies. The New York Times notes that the ties between companies may have disguised poor growth during the boom market of the 90s and contributed to the decline of the past year.

Murdoch Security Chief Linked to Anti-Competitive Actions (March 14, 2002)

The Guardian has evidence that a former police commander linked to two of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation subsidiaries funded a website that helped pirates produce forged smart cards used to defraud a key competitor. The scam "raises important questions at a time when ministers are reviewing cross-media ownership laws."

Three Ad Competitors Unite to Conquer (March 8, 2002)

With the merger of three advertising agencies, one super company is elbowing its way into the top tier, where three giant ad agencies already account for an estimated 40 percent of worldwide agency revenue. (New York Times)

Senator Slams Merger Agreement (March 6, 2002)

The Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department have divided oversight to review mergers, with the FTC ceding its powers to review all mass-media mergers to the Justice Department. The provision that only Justice review media mergers has drawn sharp criticism from consumer groups and from the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. (

It's Time to Fight the Enronization of the Media (March 1, 2002)

In light of the recent decision allowing cross-ownership in the broadcast market, In These Times argues that "if the media are permitted to consolidate in the manner now imminent, the prospects for any alternative media policies will decline precipitously."

US Court of Appeals Scraps Cable-Broadcast Cross-Ownership Rule (February 21, 2002)

In a landmark decision, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down a rule that prevented a company from owning a cable system and broadcast television stations in the same market. The current broadcast cap of 35 percent is still under review but is expected to be removed, opening the way for further consolidation within the telecommunications industry.

What's Wrong with this Picture? (January 7, 2002)

The Nation's Mark Crispin Miller delivers a salvo of criticisms of the "Big Ten": AOL Time Warner, Disney, General Electric, News Corporation, Viacom, Vivendi, Sony, Bertelsmann, AT&T and Liberty Mutual. A brilliant graphic display of the media's domination by entertainment conglomerates accompanies his article.

Financial Sector Mergers

2002| Archived Articles


Employees, Unions Want Say in Bank Merger, Acquisition (October 23, 2002)

The National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) demands that banks confer with unions and employees before going forward with a merger. NUBE argues that mergers can "lead to oligopoly and limited banking service for the poorer sectors of society." (BusinessWorld (Philippines))

Next Enron Wave: A Flood of New Rules (March 11, 2002)

In light of the Bush plan to establish a new self-regulatory body to oversee auditors and bar accounting firms from also providing management-consulting services to audit clients, the Christian Science Monitor notes that "if nothing else, the Enron debacle may have closed an era of deregulatory fervor."

Big Merger Could Hinder Push for Change in Industry (March 11, 2002)

Accountants say that Andersen's merger with Deloitte would ease the pressure within the industry for restructuring and reform of basic practices. (New York Times)
Archived Articles


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