DoomwatchTM vs. Timesizing®
[Commentary] ©1999-1999 Phil Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080

Mergers&Acquisitions - April-May/99

[Hoping #2+#2 = #1...]
5/29/99 Phone firm will buy pager company - MCI WorldCom in [$1.8b] deal for SkyTel, by Colleen McElroy, Bloomberg News via Boston Globe, p. C1.
JACKSON, Miss. - ...The number two US long-distance phone company said yesterday it would buy...the number two US paging company.... MCI WorldCom, which owns UUNet, the Internet traffic carrier, gets 1.6 million paging customers and a wireless network to offer e-mail and other data services to its customers.... MCI...recently ended negotiations to acquire...Nextel.... [Note 8/27 NYT, p. C4, "F.C.C. approves MCI Worldcom's [$1.3b] purchase of Skytel." Note $0.5b drop in stock-based purchase price. Skytel stockholders will vote on the deal on 9/29.]

5/29 Human relations firm in Natick, Mass. to buy Calif. group [for $undisclosed], by Ross Kerber, Bos Globe, C1.
...Workscape Inc....said it plans to buy another human-resources consulting group based in Santa Clara [from Edify Corp.]...which will add about 70 employees to Workscape's current staff of 90.... Edify's Employee Relationship Management Group...operates more extensive benefits-consulting services, such as installing software at the employer's own facilities....

5/28 Infinity agrees to buy Outdoor Systems Inc. - Broadcast firm's $8.3b stock, debt purchase will add billboard advertising to its radio stations, Bloomberg via Bos Globe, C2.
...The second-largest US radio company..\..(controlled by CBS Corp.) will buy number one US billboard company...adding outdoor advertising to its radio stations in the biggest US cities.
[Here we go on another stupid wrinkle that creeps into takeovers - buying an irrelevant business that you know nothing about and are probably going to kill. The extreme example of this was when Exxon took over Vydec word processors 10-20 years ago and both companies suffered (not that botoh companies don't suffer in most mergers anyway...).]

5/28 British firm pays $60m for Marcam Solutions, Bloomberg via Bos Globe, C5.
Invensys PLC [based in Berkshire, England] the world's largest maker of factory controls and automation equipment agreed to buy [Newton, Mass.-based maker of] software that helps companies improve their manufacturing operations.... Invensys...operates more than 500 companies worldwide with 120,000 employees..\..
[Well, that sounds larger than Analog Devices.]
Marcam...has 715 employees. The proposed acquisition will allow...Invensys, which was formed after Siebe PLC bought BTR PLC earlier this year, "to offer a complete software solution to the process automation market," chief executive Allen Yurko said....
[More mergers, more takeovers - onward, ever onward toward the one giant company with one employee, millions of robots, and no markets. As Reuther said to Ford after Ford said "Let's see you unionize these robots" - "Let's see you sell them cars."]

5/28 Paul Allen buys another cable firm [for $undisclosed, AP via Bos Globe, C2.
Striking his second cable deal in two days and fourth in a week, [the] Microsoft cofounder...said he's buying [privately held] Denver-based Fanch Communications [which] will put Allen's Charter Communications squarely in the number four spot in the US cable industry, behind AT&T, Time Warner and Comcast.... Fanch has about 547,000 subscribers, boosting Charter's about 5.5 million. Like AT&T, which in less than a year has agreed to buy two of the nation's four biggest cable companies, Allen is hoping to use cable TV wires as pipelines for superfast Internet access, phone service, and digital television.
[What good is "superfast phone service" when you can't get any service on Directory Assistance except from slow and stupid robots, and you're forced to listen to advertising in some cases?]
The Fanch deal comes a day after Charter said it was buying Falcon Communications...and...a week after...two smaller operators. Those deals are part of a cable spending spree that began a year ago with Allen's $2.8 billion purchase of Marcus Cable, the the nation's largest privately held cable operator.
[More and more scrambling for less and less market.]

5/27 Charter Communications to buy Falcon - Allen firm agrees to pay $3.6b for cable operator, Bloomberg via Bos Globe, E2.
ST. LOUIS - ...The cable TV company owned by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen agreed to buy...Los Angeles-based..\..Falcon Cable Holdings...which has subscribers in 23 states..\ fortify its regional strongholds and [prepare] for future cable swaps.... Allen, who has spent about $7.1 billion this year buying cable systems across the United building onto systems in LA, the Northwest and the South. The acquisition of Falcon adds systems in other regions that can be swapped later for subscribers that fit into Charter's regional strategy.... Earlier yesterday, Comcast Corp., the number three US cable TV company and Jones Intercable Inc. said they will swap about 900,000 cable customers with Adelphia Communications Corp..\.. "Game one is to get bigger. Game two is to build dominance through swaps,"...analyst Alan Gould said....
[Allen is typical of the growing number of top executives who can't grow market share by raising product/service quality against a background of growing general markets, but only by purchasing the quality history and de-facto market share of other executives against a background of stagnant general markets. This is symptomatic of a pre-depression period and is always corrected only by reducing labor hours on offer in the job market so market forces raise wages and spending and general markets. For the last two generations, the standard way of reducing labor hours on offer is rather crude - killing people in wars, large (WW2) and small (Korea, Vietnam, Iran, Panama, Grenada, Sudan, Persian Gulf, Yugoslavia...) and, until the mid '80s, by dragging out education and hurrying up retirement. The preferable, more flexible way, however, is the approach followed over the previous c.140 years (c.1792-c.1932) of reducing the workday and the workweek. This was always done arbitrarily - too little, too late - and with no built-in training. Timesizing adopts this general approach but corrects its flaws.
One more interesting paragraph from this story, however - ]
Allen is betting, along with AT&T and Microsoft, that cable will become the way most people access the Internet, make phone calls, view interactive entertainment, and shop on line. Cable companies are consolidating into regional clusters, which makes it more cost-efficient to deliver and market these new services....
[We personally don't have cable and won't find it useful until it offers direct Internet access in our area.]

5/27 Nellie Mae agrees to sell unit [to Sallie Mae] - $320m cash deal expected to help student borrowers, by Lynnley Browning, Bos Globe, E1.
...Nellie Mae Foundation Inc., the Braintree, Mass.-based educational lender and grant maker agreed yesterday to sell its student loan subsidiary to the nation's largest buyer of such loans...SLM Holding Corp., known as Sallie Mae..\.. The deal marks the final step in Nellie Mae's transformation into a fully nonprofit entity focused on improving adult literacy, high school graduation rates, and other educational issues. [It] will have $395 million in assets after the sale and will become New England's largest educational grant source....

[The scramble for customers is gettin' intense - ]
5/27 Liz Claiborne buys Segrets of Wakefield [Mass. for $54m, & Lucky Dungarees], Bloomberg via Bos Globe, E11.
...The [New York-based] biggest US maker of women's career clothing [bought] an 84.5% stake in a closely held sportswear add brands and attract different customers. It last week agreed to buy a [0.5% higher] stake in Lucky Brand Dungarees....

5/27 Simione Central pays $26m for Mestek unit, Bloomberg via Bos Globe, E11.
...An [Atlanta-based] provider of information systems software to home-health companies said it will buy [Westfield, Mass.-based] rival MCS boost earnings and increase its market share.... Simione will have about $50 million in revenue and 3,000 customers after the acquisition.... Mestek's main business is making heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning equipment. The acquisition, expected to close in late fall, is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval. Mestek rose 3/16 to 20 3/16. Simione fell 5/8 to 2 5/8.

5/27 Clean Harbors buys two Texas operations [for $undisclosed], Dow Jones via Bos Globe, E11.
...Braintree, Mass.-based [provider of] industrial waste management services..\..acquired two waste transportation units...SureCycle Systems and AET Transportation..\..from American Ecology Corp.... SureCycle provides waste management services to small quantity generators...and AET provides transportation for solid and liquid waste....

5/26 Allied [Domecq] to sell UK pubs to Whitbread for $3.8b, Bloomberg via Bos Globe, C2.
...Shedding the 3,500...pubs allows..\..the world's second-largest liquor focus on its Ballantine's scotch, Beefeater gin, and other drink brands \with a view to\ catching up with the market leader, Diageo PLC. For Whitbread, the purchase offers opportunities to cut costs [and jobs?] as it becomes the UK's largest pub operator [with, presumably, nothing to do with anything as innocent as white bread except its name].

5/25 Cendant auto leasing unit bought by Avis for $1.8b, Bloomberg News via Bos Globe, D3.
...New York City-based Cendant..\ the largest shareholder of Garden City, NY-based Avis....

5/25 J. Baker alters strategy - Says [$31.7m] Repp buy ends need for big, tall chain, by Chris Reidy, Bos Globe, D6.
...Canton, Mass.-based [operator] of several retail chains including Casual Male Big & Tall..\..said yesterday its acquisition of...a 175-store apparel chain for big and tall men will [cancel] its previously announced strategic plan [to] open a second big and tall chain aimed at a more affluent customer....

5/25 United Rentals buys seven competing firms [for $undisclosed], Bloomberg via Bos Globe, D9.
...The number one US...renter of construction and landscaping equipment [bought seven companies which] combined have 21 rental locations in nine states and two Canadian provinces. The largest is the rental unit of Hazelcrest, Ill.-based Mi-Jack Products. With its affiliates, it has annual revenue of $54 million and 10 locations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Texas. United Rentals, with 1998 revenue of $1.22 billion, has acquired 34 equipment rental companies this year.... It plans to buy another 38 142 locations.
[We can't help feeling sorry for all the construction projects whose equipment rents are gonna go up once this cancerous spider-company, evidently unchecked by antitrust, clinches control. We don't know about you folks, but we're gradually coming around to the opinion that companies should grow and decay, live and die on their own, and all takeover and acquisition activity should be banned. We think the future will develop the figures proving that this you're-on-your-own approach skyrockets diversity, competition, reinvestment, creativity and survivability on the part of the overall economy.]

[A house divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:25) - ]
5/22 Telecom Italia majority takes Olivetti's hostile $33b bid, Bloomberg via Bos Globe, F1.
...thwarting a rival offer from Germany's former monopoly Deutsche Telekom AG [for Italy's biggest phone company]. Olivetti will [buy a] 51.02% stake. The former typewriter maker will finance most of its offer with debt, which it plans to repay with Telecom Italia's operating cash flow and assets.
[So essentially, Olivetti is doing a hostile takeover of Tel Italia with Tel Italia's own money. On the face of it, we have some very dumb Tel Italia stockholders and board members here!]
Even Telecom Italia's adviser, San Paolo-IMI SpA, and other investors that are represented on the board accepted Olivetti's bid. They tendered shares on the offer's last day, after management defenses failed to win shareholder support....
[So maybe this was an Italian nationalist thing - mainly to block takeover by a German giant? - in which case, a lot of people figured that a hostile takeover of an Italian firm by another Italian firm would be friendlier than a friendly takeover of an Italian firm by a non-Italian firm.]

5/22 Hunneman buys Hallmark 100 [Properties for $?], by Irving Murphy, Bos Globe, E1.
...The top-selling company for high-end properties in Cohasset, Hingham, Hull, and Scituate has been acquired of the largest real estate companies in the region.... Chris Ford started [Hallmark] in Cohasset in 1982 and has since expanded to four offices and 48 sales associates. Boston-based Hunneman-Coldwell Banker has more than 75 offices in Eastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of NRT Inc.
[So vanishes the local, personal touch....]

5/21 Bankers Trust [$10.2b giveaway to Deutsche Bank] OK'd, AP via Bos Globe, C2.
[See story of this date on our banking page.]

5/21 [$9.86b WebMD] Deal boosts Healtheon, AP via Bos Globe, C2.
...Santa Clara, Calif.-based Healtheon [plans to take over an] Internet health care information company [in an acquisition ranking] among the largest Internet industry deals in history, rivalling AOL's $10.2b purchase of Netscape Communications Corp. earlier this year.... Both firms have yet to make a dime of profit.
[That's another doomwatch category we need - market insanity - with complete comparisons with market data from 1929 etc. is the main example of a web company that has yet to make a profit, and we worked for a high-tech news firm (Individual Inc, since merged with Desktop Data into NewsEdge) that never made a dime in its entire dozen-or-so-year history.]

5/21 Lernout & Hauspie buys [Healthcare Solutions Group] from Fonix for $28m], by Ronald Rosenberg, Bos Globe, C5.
...A Belgium-based speech products company with US headquarters in Burlington [Mass.] said it will buy all the assets of Fonix Healthcare [unit] from Salt Lake City-based Fonix Corp. for $24 million in cash plus another $4 million spread over two years, based on performance. The purchase is expected to close July 30. L&H [is buying the unit, formerly known as] Articulate Systems of Woburn for its PowerScribe Radiology and Emergency Medicine Systems, which transcribe and manage dictated clinical information across a computer network and customer base. About 40 [out of how many? current] employees will join L&H's Industry Solutions Group in Burlington to support PowerScribe....

5/21 MTV swaps for Web sites [from TCI Music], AP via Bos Globe, C2.
Capitalizing on a hot Internet stock even before it has gone public, MTV Networks is trading 10% of its on-line music subsidiary [to an online entertainment company] for a set of music websites and The Box, a pay-per-view cable music video channel.... In exchange for a stake in the on-line music unit, which is expected to go public within the next 12 months, MTV will get SonicNet, a leading music news and information site, along with several other associated sites also aimed at younger listeners.

5/20 Tycho [International Ltd.] to buy Raychem in $3.27b deal - Company [to offer single source for industrial] electrical products..., Bloomberg via Bos Globe, C2.
HAMILTON, Bermuda - ...The number one maker of electronic components will buy [Meno Park, Cal.-based Raychem Corp. which] became vulnerable to acquisition in the past year [as] financial instability in Asia, Russia, and other regions curbed sales....

5/20 Bingham Dana to merge with Hartford law firm [Hebb & Gitlin for $??] - Deal lifts Hub company's global business, by Kimberly Blanton, Bos Globe, C5.
...On of Boston's oldest law firms..\..said yesterday it would merge with a...firm that recently snared the government of Indonesia as a client.... Bingham Dana has 325 attorneys and a specialty in corporate finance for banking clients, while Hebb & Gitlin [has] 55 attorneys [and a specialty] in the insurance industry....

5/19 Tweeter [Home Entertainment Gp, for $5.5m,] to buy 9-store, San Diego-based chain, by Chris Reidy, Bos Globe, D9.
Continuing its strategy of acquiring small regional chains, Canton-based [seller of] consumer electronics [will] buy...Dow Stereo/Video Inc.... Tweeter...currently operates 62 stores under such [names as] Tweeter, Bryn Mawr, HiFi Buys, Home Entertainment. Tweeter saw annual sales rise [$100m] with much of that growth coming from acquisitions. Dow S/V had sales last year of $38 million.
[See, what did we tell ya. "Growth is mainly vapor - because wealth is not getting reinvested and centrifuged into growing spending and markets, it's just getting consolidated - and since CEOs don't know how to share flat, let alone sinking, markets, they 'stuff their codpieces' by acquiring one another."]

5/19 R.I. health care merger [of Lifespan and Care New England for $??] envisions 200 job cuts, AP via Bos Globe, D9.
[At least they're being up front about it for a change.]
...Lifespan and Care New England...filed a merger application with the Rhode Island attorney general's office.... The system would save $50.1 million through the elimination of the equivalent of 200 full-time jobs, or 1.4% of the total, under the merger plan. More than three-quarters of those people would probably be able to find jobs elsewhere in the system, architects of the plan \to\ compete with Boston hospitals...say..\.. But patient care services would not be jeopardized....
[Yeah sure. Any time you strike employee morale, you're jeopardizing service and productivity. Better to cut the workweek an almost unnoticeable 1.4% to 39.4 hrs/wk than to destroy people's livelihoods, however briefly you say. That's the way two of the most competitive companies in America do it, Lincoln Electric and Nucor Steel.]

5/18 Drug maker Copley [of Canton, Mass.] to be spun out in [$22b Rhone-Poulenc.] Hoechst merger, Globe Wire Services via Bos Globe, E5.
FRANKFURT - Hoechst AG and [Paris-based] Rhone-Poulenc SA agreed to complete in November a 20.5 billlion-euro ($22b) merger to create the world's largest drug maker....

5/18 General Dynamics to buy Gulfstream [Aerospace] in $5.18b stock-debt deal, Bloomberg News via Bos Globe, E2.
FALLS CHURCH, Va. - ...[Maker of] tanks and submarines yesterday agreed to buy...the top maker of long-range business jets..\..reentering the commercial-aircraft business it exited earlier this decade.
[Dandy! Yoyo out, yoyo in.] ...Gulfstream...gets about 60% of the luxury-class business-jet market, an economically sensitive industry.... "They are buying a business that appears to be at or near its peak...," said Brad Erwin, an analyst at Banc One Corp....
[So why all these mergers, you ask. Here's our take - dramatic growth figures are mainly vapor - the kind of leger de main that Congress perpetrated under Reagan when it started adding the social security fund in with the main budget to make it look bigger. Big dumb CEOs don't quite understand why it seems harder to grow - it just does - and they don't know how to share flat (let alone sinking) markets, so they keep their codpieces stuffed by engulfing one another. Geronimo-o-o-o! (or should that be Kamekazi-i-i-i?)]

5/18 New Holland will acquire Case for $4.3 billion in cash, Bloomberg News via Boston Globe, p. E2.
...The world's second-biggest farm-equipment maker yesterday said it would buy [Racine, Wis.-based] Case Corp. of the United cut costs and compete better with market leader Deere & Co.... New Holland is incorporated in the Netherlands, with headquarters in London.... The combination will result in some job cuts and plant closings, although no detailed announcements will be made until the companies hold discussions with regulatory agencies and union officials.

5/18 Wyman-Gordon sold to [Precision Castparts] for $825m, by Rachel Layne, Bloomberg via Bos Globe, E2.
...A Grafton-Mass. maker of forged metal parts for turbines..\..agreed to be sold to [the Portland, Ore.-based] number one maker of large castings for aircraft engines....

5/18 CVS agrees to buy Net pharmacy [Seattle-based for $30m] - Watershed deal may offer hint to industry's future, by Chris Reidy, Bos Globe, E1.
In a first for the drugstore industry...the 4,100-store pharmacy chain based in Woonsocket, R.I., said yesterday it has agreed to...acquire [a] pharmacy that sells prescription drugs on line....

5/17 US West, Global Crossing to merge [for $2.4b] - Two telecom firms reportedly will team up in 50-50 stock combination, by Noelle Knox, AP via Bos Globe, A14.

5/14 N.Y.-Boston law firms to merge 450 lawyers [for $undisclosed], Bloomberg via Bos Globe, E5.
The law firms of Nixon, Hargrave, Devans & Doyle and Peabody & Brown plan to merge by July 1 [Canada Day!] creating a 450-lawyer practice.
[Altogether now, 1-2-3 Primal Scream - aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrggggghhhh! Can you think of anything worse than 450 lawyers? (Awright, awright, 449 economists.) At least these slimeballs, who facilitate so many mergers, are now getting a dose of their own "medicine" and a sip of their own uncertainty.]
The combined firm...will be called Nixon Peabody....
[Well THAT'S an improvement, at least!]
It will also rank among the top 50 US law firms in size....
[- if not quality.]
Rochester, NY-based Nixon Hargrave, with 270 lawyers, specializes in public finance. Boston-based Peabody & Brown specializes in housing syndication.

5/13 Cox Communications will buy TCA Cable TV in $4b deal, by John Lyons, Bloomberg News via Bos Globe, D3.
ATLANTA - ...The No. 5 US cable company [made] its second purchase in three weeks as the industry consolidates.... Cox, which last month agreed to buy Media General Inc.'s cable systems for $1.4 billion, and many of its competitors, have been on an acquisition spree in the past year. Cable companies inclusing AT&T, TIme Warner and ComCast want to build larger regional groups of subscribers to spread out the cost of new programming and digital services such as high-speed Internet access and local telephone service....
[Face it, guys - the markets just aren't there. You've downsized SO much - thrown SO many people into living on the edge - that fewer and fewer can afford the 30-40 bucks a month for cable TV. And here is an object lesson in the dilemma of today's CEOs - How to get efficiency without clobbering their own markets, aka, How to merge without downsizing. Timesizing provides the obvious, indeed the only, answer to this seemingly impossible challenge.]

5/13 Brookstone buys [for $undisclosed, Gardeners Eden unit from San Francisco-based] Williams-Sonoma, Bos Globe, D9.
...Gardeners Eden [is] a catalog for outdoor decorations and garden accessories....

5/13 View Tech [of Boston, for $undisclosed,] plans to sell telephone network unit [to New York's Cortel USA], by Steven Syre, Bos Globe, D9.
...Cortel...employs 190 people in New England. View Tech...which also operates a video services business..\..said no layoffs were expected.
[Notice how they always say that when they have layoffs on their minds.]
It blamed [its] lower revenue on decreased commission rates paid by Bell Atlantic Corp. to its telephone network division....

5/12 Motorola agrees to sell chip unit in $1.6b deal, Bloomberg via Boston Globe, p. D2.
Schaumberg, Ill.-based Motorola Inc., the world's number three semi-conductor maker, agreed to sell a chip unit to David Bonderman's Texas Pacific Group.... Motorola is streamlining its chip business after prices tumbled last year [due to so many downsizings perhaps?] and economic crises in Asia [due to reinvestment-neglecting concentration of wealth perhaps?] quashed demand. Job cuts helped the semiconductor operations report a $47 million Q1 profit, making the unit attractive to Texas Pacific [and further quashing future demand at the same time perhaps - but what do CEOs today care about the future?].

5/12 Columbia[/HCA] Healthcare spins off 61 hospitals - Step generates $900m in ongoing overhaul of firm, AP via Bos Globe, D2.
NASHVILLE - ...the latest step in an overhaul prompted by a 2-year-old federal fraud investigation. The spinoffs netted the nation's biggest hospital chain about $900 million, as each of the 61 hospitals paid for the right to be spun off....
[Let's see, that averages $15m per hospital.
[Now, don't you Americans (here we suddenly resume Canadianity as the argument turns) feel secure about the possibility of major injury or illness, knowing that your biggest hospital chain is under investigation for fraud and has rooked 20% of its own hospitals for a cool $15m apiece for 'the right to be spun off'? You low-quality-of-life (e.g., largely health-uninsured) Americans can boast all you like about your "efficient" healthcare system and fingerpoint all you want at the Canadian system, but every Canadian has health insurance (and so does every citizen in virtually every other industrialized nation) and you don't hear about fraud investigations of our biggest hospital chains and hospital shakedowns 'for the right to be spun off' (what a scam!) there either. Nya-nya nya-nya nyaaa nyaaa.]
Columbia was left with 236 hospitals, down from a high of 345 in 1997.... The new companies are Nashville-based Lifepoint Hospitals Inc., which owns mostly rural hospitals [and who cares about them, right?!] and Dallas-base Triad Hospitals Inc., which will operate mainly in medium-sized urban markets [and us BIG American CEOs only care about BIG-sized urban markets!].... Even with the spinoffs, Columbia will retain its title as the nation's biggest hospital chain and have revenues of about $15 billion....Columbia remains in settlement talks with the US Justice Dept, which has been investigating whether Columbia overcharged government health programs..\.. Hard-charging Rick Scott...was forced out [as head] by the Columbia board because of his response to the investigation....
[Who does the US Justice Dept. think it is anyway!]

5/11 Europe's HSBC Holdings to buy Republic of New York [& Safra Republic Holdings] for $10.3b, Bloomberg News via Bos Globe, D2.
LONDON - ...Europe's biggest bank by market value agreed to buy Edmond Safra's Republic New York Corp. and an it 30,000 wealthy clients around the world and the third-largest branch network in the New York City area [and] doubling the size of its private bank and adding 83 retail branches in New balance the 60% of its business in Asia..\.. Safra Republic offers 44 offices in places where the rich congregate, such as Monte Carlo and Geneva.... The sale marks the end of an era for Safra, a...Lebanese-born...businessman who founded the bank in 1966 and who now suffers from Parkinson's disease....
"Like the poor, the rich are always with us and need someone to look after their interests," said Philip Crate, head of credit research at BNP Capital Markets.... While private banking involves higher costs than mass consumer banking, it can be more profitable, especially if a bank can sell each client more than one service. It also provides steady income even in poor economic times, when lending income can plunge....
[Good heavens, a credit researcher alluding to the Bible (Matt.26:11 = Mark 14:7). Yes, the rich are sooo needy, ahn't they, dahling. Apparently this deal got held up because we've got another story about it on 11/09/99 "Acquisition of 2 banks to proceed - HSBC ends delay after official acts," by Andrew Sorkin, NYT, C17. The 'official' referred to was Edmund Safra, founder of both the US banks, and he 'acted' to accept $450m less from HSBC for his stakes. HSBC was delaying completion of the deal pending completion of an investigation into Republic's securities unit which started in September. 'Heavens knows' what delayed the deal from May to Sept. but, as wherever the rich are concerned, of course, dahling, our 'heart bleeds.']

5/11 ACT Manufacturing buys [for $59.3m, Santa Clara] California firm, Bloomberg via Boston Globe, D7.
...[A Hudson, Mass.-based assember of] electronic expand on the West Coast..\..agreed to buy CMC Industries Inc...which makes telecommunications and personal computer equipment....

5/08 Instron agrees to buyout [by Cleveland-based Kirtland Capital Partners for $156.2m], Bloomberg via Bos Globe, F1.
...The world's largest maker of hardness-testing equipment agreed to be acquired by [a] leveraged buyout company for about $22 a share in cash.... That's a 36% premium to Canton [Mass.-based Instron Corp.'s] closing price Thursday of 16 1/2...based on 7.1 million shares outstanding April 3.... Kirtland can help Instron grow by financing purchases....

5/08 Justice [Dept.] OK's Bell Atlantic-GTE merger but with conditions, AP via Bos Globe, F2.
...that [they] sell off overlapping wireless mobile systems in nine states....
[See also the first 4/06 merger story below, our 4/01 goodnews story and a 1/20 downsizing story.]

5/08 FCC will give AT&T-MediaOne deal 'careful scrutiny', by Jeannine Aversa, AP via Bos Globe, F2.
...The $58 billion deal's size, complexity and its potential reach into American homes must be studied, Federal Communication Commission [FCC] chairman Bill Kennard said in his first comment on the matter.
[See also our main story on 5/02 below and background story on 3/23 below. Note that on 5/02 the figure was $55.79b, roundable to $56. By 5/08 it's up $2b to "$58b". Is this for real or is this an error in rounding? By 7/28 (NYT C11) it's up to $62.5! A stock component in the price could account for the volatility.
[Another question - what government agency is charged with enforcing the anti-trust laws - the FCC as here or the Justice Dept. as in the story above, or both - with what division of responsibility?]

5/07 Citizens to buy State Street's retail bank [for $1.5b] - Also to acquire third of commercial loans in deal, by Lynnley Browning, Bos Globe, C1.
...Citizens [Financial Group Inc., a private company owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland] will buy all [that remains] of Boston-based State Street's retail bank, or four branches with $1.6 billion in deposits, and around one-third, or $2.2 billion, of State Street's commercial loans.... Citizens is paying the portfolio's book value of $1.1 billion plus a $350 million premium, all in cash [for a total of $1.45b, say $1.5]. The book value does not include $500 million in repurchase agreement deposits [meaning??]. The deal, part of a trend of industry consolidation, represents State Street's farewell from mainstream banking....

5/07 MacGregor Group buys Merrin Financial [for $undisclosed], Bloomberg via Bos Globe, C5.
...A closely held Boston company providing trade-order systems to institutional fund companies [which allow fund managers to keep track of what they do], said it acquired larger rival, Merrin Financial, boosting its share of the market.
[Notice the only way most CEOs can boost market share in a "deflationary boom" is by buying other companies - the general markets just aren't there. The only markets that are really booming - and this is an ominous sign - are the luxury markets and especially the financial markets, because the rich just don't have time to put anywhere else all the wealth that's windfalling into their few pockets. A frozen Neanderthal workweek obsoleted by constantly inpouring technology has trashed the bargaining power of labor of all types except the carefully controlled (CEOs', sports stars' and movie stars').]
It acquired Merrin of New York from ADP Brokerage Services Group, a unit of Roseland, N.J.-based Automatic Data Processing Inc., said Steven Levy, Macgregor's chief executive.... MacGregor will take 65 people of the 95 employed by Merrin and 70 customers, said Levy.
[We believe this means a tacit downsizing of 30 people or 32%.]
The new companies will have 100 employees, more than 80 customers, and offices in Boston, New York, London, and Madrid he said.... MacGregor's acquisition involved an investment group that included Bain Capital Inc. [where Mitt Romney, son of George Romney, works].

5/06 Spanish firm acquires Charrette for $107m, by Chris Reidy, Bos Globe, C9.
...A store for architects [which] opened in Cambridge 35 years ago said it has been bought by Grupo Picking Pack S.A. of Barcelona [which] does in Europe what Charrette does in the United States - sells supplies, modeling software, and services to architects, engineering firms, and ad agencies.... No layoffs are expected at Charrette, which employs 810 people and operates 23 stores.... Two years ago, as they neared retirement, Charrette's cofounders sold the company to Berkshire Partners LLC [for how much??].

5/5 Wang to be sold to Getronics in $2b deal, by Hiawatha Bray, Bos Globe, D1.
...The high technology pioneer that has symbolized the boom and bust of the state's high-tech economy, agreed to be purchased by a large European firm...[a Dutch] information services company.... [Billerica, Mass.-based Wang was] a one-time titan in minicomputers that reinvented itself...after a plunge into bankruptcy [as] a major provider of network data services in North America, Europe, and Asia, with expected 1999 revenues of $3.5 billion. the same line of work, but concentrated in northern Europe...sees Wang as a quick way to become a worldwide power in the business of managing other companies' computer networks....

5/5 BU sells television station Channel 68 to Pax network [for $40m], by Steven Wilmsen, Bos Globe, D1.
Boston University [BU] sold WABU-TV (Channel 68) and two sister stations to Pax TV, the upstart network that has built a nationwide chain with family-oriented shows such as "Touched by an Angel," officials said yesterday. The long-rumored sale, said to be valued at $40 million, means much-needed cash for BU. And it also means radical changes in the station's programming.... The sale, which must still receive approval from the Federal Communications Commission, includes WZBU-TV of Vineyard Haven and WNBU-TV of Concord, N.H.... Pax...owns 71 affiliates across the country and provides programming for 41 more....

5/04/99 [The Limited Inc.] to spin off girls chain [to Freeman, Spogli & Co. for $?], Bloomberg, Boston Globe, p. C2.
...Columbus, Ohio-based retailer..\..plans to spin off its very successful Limited Too girls clothing chain this summer and sell its majority interest in its Galyan's Trading Co. sporting goods stores [to an] investment firm...
[Talk about "fixing something that works."]
The retailer also said it will buy back up to 15 million shares of its common stock.
[Well, that's good news anyway. ANYthing to escape the short-term "values" of Wall Street.]

["Well, we've got some good news (groomA wedding off) and some bad news (groomB wedding on)...."]
5/02 MediaOne said to call off Comcast merger - Decision to take [$55.79b] AT&T offer could set off bidding war, by Noelle Knox, AP via Bos Globe, A14.
NEW YORK - MediaOne Group Inc. today will announce plans to accept an offer to be acquired by AT&T Corp., abandoning a previously agreed upon deal with Comcast Corp., according to a person familiar with the negotiations....
[One down, one up, net zero. Or maybe 0.1 up because they're entering a new self-destruct phase - they're starting to get greedy enough to welch on agreements. Compare Robert Kraft welching on Hartford when Boston came to heel.]

5/01/99 GE [Capital] to buy Montgomery Ward [for $650m], Bloomberg News via Boston Globe, p. F2.
WILMINGTON, Del. - General Electric Co.'s finance arm will acquire all of Montgomery Ward Holdings Co. Inc., seventh-largest US department store company, as part of the retailer's bankruptcy reorganization plan, court papers show. GE Capital Inc. is paying $650 million to acquire the 43% of Montgomery Ward stock it doesn't already own plus Ward's Signature Group direct marketing arm....

4/30/99 Rival pays $827m for Parexel [International Corp. of Waltham, Mass.] - Combination will form top drug-testing firm; plans to add workers, by Alex Pham, Boston Globe, p. E1.
...The nation's third-largest drug-testing and development company said yesterday it had agreed to be acquired by...Covance Inc. of...Princeton, N.J. \to become\ Covance Parexel Inc..\..the number-one [in the] burgeoning business of developing and testing experimental drugs for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries....
[So far, so normal.]
Rather than trim staff, as is the case with many corporate mergers, Covance and Parexel said they will hire an additional 3,000 workers in the first 12 months after the deal is completed.
[Well, if that happens, they indeed be unusual - maybe we should wait and 'believe it when we see it'.]
Parexel employs about 4,300 full- and part-time workers, about 900 of whom are in the Boston area. Covance, which has 7,300 full-time employees, has minimal presence in Massachusetts.
[OK, there's the hitch. What happens to the Boston employees when Parexel packs for NJ?]
...Josef von Rickenbach, Parexel's chief executive...said he will remain in the Boston area as the merged company's president and cochairman with Christopher Kuebler, chief executive of Covance and CEO-designate of the merged company. "Boston is very important to us."
[Well, maybe they will keep a branch in Boston too - with Josef in control of the sidecar. But many marriages have foundered after the honeymoon. Meanwhile, let's hope they reverse the trend.]

4/30 Striking it rich - Start-up hits it big with buy, by Ronald Rosenburg, Bos Globe, E1.
...The nation's Internet bookseller said it will acquire..\ [which] brings together buyers and sellers of rare or out-of-print books and old music recordings...for a reported $200 million in stock, making [Danish-born Stig Leschly just out of Harvard Business School] a multimillionaire in barely seven months.... Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder and chief executive, said acquisition "...further increases our selection of rare and obscure items."

4/30 Management group buys Laura Ashley's [North American stores, for $1.00!], Bos Globe, E7.
...The British company agreed to sell 100 stores, its US headquarters in Boston, and an Ohio warehouse..\ a management-led group of investors [including Malayan United Industries, Regent Carolina, and Bonham Industries], the Washington Post reported yesterday.
[Talk about a sweetheart deal. On the other hand, this might be the albatross from hell...]
Ontario, Canada-based Laura Ashley's floral designs were once wildly popular, but the clothing has since fallen from fashion.... As a result, the brand's future is by no means assured....

4/29 N.Y. firm buys control of Mullen [for $undisclosed] - Wenham [Mass.] ad agency to keep autonomy; no layoffs seen, by Chris Reidy, Bos Globe, D1.
[But that's what they always say.]
...The third-largest ad agency in New England and the region's largest independent agency, has sold a majority stake of its business to a unit of the Interpublic Group of Cos., the...conglomerate that bought Boston ad agency Hill Holliday Connors Cosmopoulos [when, Chris?]. In the rapidly consolidating ad industry...Mullen is the third big local ad agency to be purchased by an outside-the-region communications company in the last 18 months.... Mullen's clients include L.L. Bean, Swiss Army Brands, and Polartec....

4/28 Park Place buys Caesars for $3b, AP via Bos Globe, D2.
Park Place Entertainment Corp. said yesterday it plans to purchase [several Caesars World Inc.] resorts in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and Lake Tahoe from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. The sale does not include the Desert Inn hotel-casino...that has been on the market for some time. The deal ends a 10-figure...tug-of-war between two gambling titans - Park Place and Mirage Resorts Inc.... Park Place shares soared nearly 25%...2 1/4 to a 52-week high of 11 3/8....

4/27 GEC buys US networking-equipment firm - Will pay $4.5 billion for Fore Systems Inc., by Christine Harper, Bloomberg News via Bos Globe, C2.
LONDON - General Electric Co. PLC, Britain's largest electrical engineering company, agreed to for [a maker of] advanced computer-networking switches used by phone companies to combine data with regular phone traffic.... GEC is shedding its defense business to focus on networking equipment, kicking off the strategy last month with the $2.1 billion purchase of US-based Reltec Corp....

4/27 First Union buys Chicago securities firm [Everen Capital] in $1.1b deal, Bloomberg via Bos Globe, C2.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - ...The sixth-largest US bank [made] its second acquisition of a securities firm in a year [to] form the sixth-largest US brokerage firm....
[...thus violating the separation of banks and brokerages that we learned the hard way in 1929 and enacted into law during the Great Depression. Learn it, forget it, learn it, forget it - who says we're an intelligent species?!]

4/27 [San Jose-based] EBay to buy Butterfield & Butterfield [Auctioneers based in San Francisco] for $260m, Bloomberg via Bos Globe, C2.
...The number one on-line auction company [seller of both fine and decorative art] said it will...add high-priced art and collectibles to its service....

4/24 Sprint buys out Cox stake [41%] in wireless venture for $1.2b, Bloomberg via Bos Globe, F1.
...The the last step in shifting ownership of Cox Communications PCS LP to Sprint, the nation's number 3 long-distance phone company. Atlanta-based Cox, the nation's 5th-largest cable TV company, had sold the other 20% of its interest in the PCS venture to Sprint in 1998.

4/23 [For $undisclosed, the Leisure Co. unit of] America West buys Woburn travel company [National Leisure Group], Dow Jones via Bos Globe, E5.
...a retail travel company and a unit of Cendant Corp.... America West [Holdings Corp.], based in Phoenix, is an aviation and travel services company.

[2 days later, we get the exact figures on the "biggest merger in history", story below on 4/20 "[Italy's] Telecom Italia [& Germany's] Deutsche Telekom merger [$?] deal seen" - ]
4/22 $81.4b merger would create world's largest phone firm, by Allessandra Galloni, Reuters via Bos Globe, D2.
ROME - ...The deal...outstrips a $76.7 billion merger agreed between oil giants Exxon and Mobil....

4/22 Palomar [Medical Technologies] to sell Star Medical unit for $65m [to Coherent Inc.], Dow Jones via Bos Globe, D9. ...Lexington-based Palomar [is selling to] Santa Clara, Calif.-based Coherent....

4/21 [Atlanta-based] LHS Group agrees to buy Wilmington [Mass. firm, Priority Call for c. $162m], Bloomberg via Bos Globe, D11.
...Maker of billing systems for telephone companies in 70 countries agreed to acquire closely held [offerer of] phone services such as prepaid and credit- and debit-card calling....

4/21 [Woburn, Mass.-based] Thermedics pays $42m for German company [Erich Jaeger GmbH], Dow Jones via Bos Globe, D11.
...A publicly traded unit of Thermo Electron Corp. that makes biomedical, security, and quality-control products..\..signed a letter of intent to acquire...a privately held company...that makes and sells medical equipment....

[Biggest merger in history - ]
4/20 [Italy's] Telecom Italia [& Germany's] Deutsche Telekom merger [$?] deal seen, by Bruce Stanley, AP via Bos Globe, C3.
LONDON - ...that would create a new global competitor to US giants such as AT&T.... The merger, which would pair two former state monopolies, would be subject to intense regulatory scrutiny, and would undoubtedly present the compnaies with political and cultural obstacles.... [Such a] marriage would dwarf its competitors in Europe and would most likely become the largest merger in history, topping the pending deal between Exxon Corp. and Mobil Corp.... Deutsche Telekom has a market capitalization of about $117 billion; Telecom Italia, $77 billion.

4/20 Hancock [Canada] subsidiary buys Aetna Canada [for $300m], by Lynnley Browning, Bos Globe, p. C9.
Halifax...-based [Maritime Life Assurance Co., Canada's 7th-largest life insurer and a] subsidiary of [Boston-based] John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co. has agreed to acquire Aetna International Inc.'s Toronto unit....

4/17 Cape Cod Potato Chips to be sold a second time - Charlotte, N.C., snack company [Lance Inc.] is buyer; price is not disclosed , by Steven Wilmsen, Bos Globe, F1.

4/16 Huntsman to buy 4 units of British chemical firm [Imperial Chemical Industries, for $2.8b], Bloomberg via Bos Globe, D2.
...making [Salt Lake-based Huntsman] the world's biggest closely held chemicals company....
[And they'll keep it that way (closely held) if they have any sense.]

4/16 [UK-based] Cadbury Schweppes buys Hawaiian Punch [from Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble for $203m], AP via Bos Globe, D2.
...America's leading brand of fruit punch.... Cadbury is the world's number three soft-drink vendor, with about 15% of the US market, behind Coke's 44% and Pepsi's 31%.

4/16 [Somerville, NJ-based] Tekni-Plex buys unit of [closely held] High Voltage for $26m, Bloomberg via Bos Globe, D7.
...a closely held plastic-packaging maker [bought the Wakefield, Mass.-based] Natvar division [which] makes disposable medical tubing....

4/15 Chairman's group buys Berkshire [Realty] - Boston-based REIT to be sold in $1.3b deal, by Richard Kindleberger, Bos Globe, D5.
...[to] a management-led investor group...led by chairman Douglas Krupp....

[Media consolidation proceeds apace - ]
4/15 [For $undisclosed, Hartford] Courant buys 5 weeklies, Bos Globe, D9.
Courant Specialty Products Co., a division of The Hartford Courant, is buying five weekly alternative newspapers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York....

4/15 USA [Networks] buys on-line hotel booking firm [Hotel Reservation Network for $undisclosed], by Kim Chipman, Bloomberg via Bos Globe, D2.

4/14 Software maker GeoTel to be bought by Cisco - $1.92b deal will combine firms' software, hardware, by Ross Kerber & Ronald Rosenberg, Bos Globe, E1.

[The future of RealPolitik? - ]
4/14 RealNetworks to buy MP3 firm [Xing Technology for $75m], Reuters via Bos Globe, E2.

4/14 Deal-a-Day sells out to CyberShop International [for $undisclosed], by Ronald Rosenberg, Bos Globe, E4.

4/14 Lotus acquires workflow producer [ONEStone Holding for $undisclosed], Dow Jones via Bos Globe, E9.

4/14 Phoenix insurance buys [US banking] subsidiary [of Canada's Sun Life for $undisclosed], by Lynnley Browning, Bos Globe, E9.

4/13 FTC approves sale of New England Electric [to National Grid Group PLC for $3.2b], Dow Jones via Bos Globe, C9.

4/13 Adelphia to acquire Harron's cable systems for $1.17b, by John Lyons, Bloomberg via Bos Globe, C3.

4/13 Ford expands service business, buys UK chain Kwik-Fit [for $630m], Bloomberg via Bos Globe, C7.

4/13 CBS to buy Dallas TV station [KTVT] for $495m, Bloomberg via Bos Globe, C2.
[Note related story on same page - ]
4/13 Writers [Guild of America] threaten to strike CBS, AP via Bos Globe, C2.
...The network "has proposed a series of rollbacks to the contract including the elimination of a traditional pension program, allowing nonguild members to perform writing assignments, a reduction in compensatory days off, and the elimination of paid lunch periods."
[Corporate America has discovered three things at once - (1) the huge global labor surplus, (2) how to spin it as "low unemployment" in America, (3) how to rambo into resulting declining markets by "feel-good" takeovers - but still not (4) how to achieve solid, sustainable growth by reinvesting in their own markets via their own employees' wages, continuous training, and continuous renewal via shorter hours and more free time. That requires Timesizing.]

4/13 buys auction firm [ for $undisclosed], Bloomberg via Bos Globe, C2.

4/13 SLI Inc. of Canton buys Supreme Lighting [for $undisclosed], Bloomberg via Bos Globe, C9.

4/08 USA Networks buys studios, unit from Seagram [for c. $250m] - Deal will supply company's cable channels with movies, AP via Bos Globe, D2.
LOS ANGELES - Media mogul Barry Diller is getting back into the movie business by purchasing the studios October Films and Gramercy Pictures and part of the PolyGram film business from Seagram Co.... [Sources put] the purchase between $200 million and $300 million.... October and Gramercy are major distributors of so-called art house films, which offer unconventional themes and are produced on relatively small budgets....

4/08 Zoom Telephonics buys [most] Hayes Corp. assets [for $unstated], Dow Jones via Bos Globe, D9.
...purchased the brands and most of the assets of Hayes Corp. of Norcross, Ga., which is liquidating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection...[to gain] access to the corporate and value-added-reseller markets where Hayes, the pioneer maker of personal computer modems, remains a strong brand name..\.. Frank Manning, president of Zoom, said the company plans to resume building Hayes modems at the same factories in China where they had been built....
[And we thought that was a Scottish modem we bought!]

4/07 News Corp. buys out US cable-venture partner [for $1.4b], AP via Bos Globe, E2.
...Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is [taking] full control of two cable television channels, Fox Sports Net and the entertainment channel FX....
[The spider king of the media grasps yet more power and control. Nyaa ha haaaaa. At least he's an Aussie and not another Yank. But even Aussie's, almost as nice as Canucks, can do some pretty dumb things. Meanwhile, eat your heart out, Ted Turner.]

4/07 Brooks Automation buys Korea's Hanyon [Technology for $undisclosed], Dow Jones via Bos Globe, E9.
...Brooks, based in Chelmsford [Mass, supplier of] software and equipment to semiconductor, data-storage and flat-panel-display manufacturers..\..agreed to acquire...a [maker of] semiconductor manufacturing equipment and software.... Brooks shares rose 3/8....

[Cascading acquisitions - ]
4/06 GTE to pay $3.3b in cellular deal - Purchase from Ameritech would boost network being formed with Bell Atlantic, Globe Wire Services via Boston Globe, p. C2.
IRVING, Texas - GTE Corp., which is being acquired by Bell Atlantic Corp., agreed to buy about half of Ameritech Corp.'s cellular phone business in the Midwest...accelerating a plan to provide wireless services nationwide. The deal...would make a combined Bell Atlantic-GTE the biggest US wireless carrier, with 13 million subscribers....
Mergers and alliances are rapidly being formed in the telecommunications industry.... "SBC-Ameritech and Bell Atlantic-GTE are gathering assets to compete with the AT&T's and MCI WorldCom's of the world," A.G. Edwards analyst Joseph Eshoo [said]. "It's coming down to four large international telecom carriers...."

4/06 [Bankruptcy] Judge lets CoreComm buy [most] USN assets [for $39.5m+], Bloomberg via Bos Globe, C5.
...Chicago-based USN filed for Chapter 11 protection Feb. 19, citing $115.3 million in assets and $285.9 million in liabilities....

4/03 HP sells medical products unit in Andover to Canadian firm [for $?], AP via Bos Globe, B4.
...HP has agreed to sell its printed-circuit board assembly business [from within its medical products division on undisclosed terms] to Celestica Inc. [which is also] planning to buy Rochester, N.H.-based Cabletron Systems' manufacturing units.... The 125-worker \business will be\ moved somewhere within a 15-mile radius [and] leave HP with about 2,050 workers in the Andover medical products headquarters and production unit, plus another 630 in Burlington and Westford.
[HP used to be good company to work for. Now it too has "sell-off syndrome."
[Ah, it shore is nice, though, to portray a Canuck firm as a foreign invader for a change instead of vice versa. Let's go with this fantasy for a moment. How about if legions of extremely polite Canadian businesspersons buy more and more US businesses close to the border and everso gradually and nicely take over their big dumb neighbor, correction, neighbour? What a reversal of Sam Slick, the Yankee clockmaker who hoodwinked the dumb bluenosers in Richard Halliburton's classic.]

4/02 AMP chief [Robert Ripp] resigns [after $11.3b] Tyco merger approved [by shareholders], Wire services via Bos Globe, E2.
...was named head of the Harrisburg-based company last July after a drop in earnings and the elimination of thousands of jobs....

4/02 CBS buys top TV syndicator for $2.5b - King World's productions include "Jeopardy," "Oprah", Reuters via Bos Globe, E2.

4/01 BP Amoco buying Arco in $27 billion stock swap - Purchase likely to affect thousands of US jobs, by Nancy Brooks, LA Times via Bos Globe, D3.

4/01/99 Yahoo [agrees to buy] site for $5.6b - deal reportedly will be announced today, by Noelle Knox, AP via Boston Globe, p. D1.
...adding the Internet's leading supplier of radio and video programs to Yahoo's growing array of services.... The company's turbo-charged stock, whichi has risen 264% in the past 12 months, has turned into a currency to snap up rivals. But wasn't cheap. The Dallas-based firm, which went public in July, has seen its shares rise 1,213% in just eight months. This is Yahoo's second major deal this year. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company announced the $4.58 billion acquistion of [the #5 web destination] GeoCities Inc. in January [see headline 1/29 below].

For earlier Mergers&Acquisitions, click on the desired date -

  • Mar/99
  • Feb/99 and before

    For more details, our laypersons' guide to our great economic future Timesizing, Not Downsizing is available at bookstores in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Mass. or from * online.

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