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Harvard Business Review on Winning Negotiations by Harvard Business Review

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The Fine Art of Friendly Acquisition

by Robert J. Aiello and Michael D. Watkins

A RECENT STUDY ON M&A turned up a surprising statistic. Between 1984 and 1994, some 80% of LBO firms reported that their fund investors had received a return that matched or exceeded their cost of capital, even though in many cases the prices paid for the companies those funds acquired were pushed up by competing bidders. That figure stands in stark contrast to the overall record of M&A investments, which from the corporate acquirer’s perspective has been dismal, at times disastrous.

The fact that financial acquirers are so much more successful than most corporate acquirers may come as a shock to some managers. After all, financial investors don’t bring synergies ...

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