American is in the midst of a surge in merger activity. The news of mega-mergers in the tech, telecom and entertainment industries is inescapable, often headlining the front pages of business sections around the country.
Making sense of what this means for the American economy is important, as this recent upswing in activity shows no signs of letting up.
A recent Deloitte survey of merger and acquisition trends found that 79 percent of respondents expect the number of deals they close in the next 12 months to increase, up from 70 percent last year. The President’s tax and regulatory reform efforts, coupled with large corporate cash reserves and strong debt and equity markets are likely drivers of this current trend.
On the whole, mergers generally are a positive for consumers and investors. President Reagan was aware of this, which is why his Administration relaxed many of the guidelines that had prevented most previous mergers from occurring. Concerns about stifling competition no longer made sense in an age of dynamic markets where barriers to entry had been greatly reduced and when markets could be upended in the space of a few years.
This policy shift has allowed companies to become more efficient, in turn delivering greater shareholder value as well as more competition and lower prices for consumers. Examples from recent history bear this fact out.
Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox has allowed them to compete with streaming companies such as Netflix and deliver a comparable product at half the cost of a standard Netflix subscription. The company’s stock price is also up over 20% since completing the acquisition.
T-Mobile and Sprint’s proposed merger, meanwhile, will speed up the development of 5G networks and encourage more competition in the wireless marketplace. For years T-Mobile, from its position as fourth-largest carrier, has been disrupting an industry notoriously unfriendly to consumers. This has forced its competitors to abandon overage charges and long-term contracts, among other things. After their merger is complete, new T-Mobile will have a subscriber base on par with wireless giants Verizon and AT&T providing them with additional market power to continue shaking up the industry.
It is also worthwhile to take note of recent movements in the defense and aerospace sector. Chief among them is the proposed merger between Raytheon and United Technologies, a move that will create the second largest aerospace company in the world with annual revenues of over $70 billion.
The fact of the matter is the combination of these two complimentary American companies should yield a surplus of innovation and domestic manufacturing jobs. As much as $500 million in military cost savings, which will be passed onto government agencies and the American taxpayer, is possible and the promise of significant shareholder returns loom as well.
Reports indicate the combined company plans to return $20 billion to shareholders through dividends and stock buybacks in the three years after completion of the merger. A combined company will also be better positioned to weather the likely decline in spending by the American military and commercial airlines, allowing them to operate through the ups and downs of the natural business cycle.
Opponents have been putting forth misguided concerns about the merger. Specifically, they have raised antitrust concerns and have argued the combined company could use their new market power to increase prices on some of their largest customers, such as the Department of Defense.
Officials at the Pentagon disagree. Ellen Lord, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment and the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer has said that “there are no major concerns” with the proposed merger from her perspective.
Activist investors motivated by short-term profits have also spoken against the merger. Notable among them is Bill Ackman, best known for his failed multi-year short-selling campaign against Herbalife. It is clear these critics do not share regular shareholders’ long-term outlook to investing. Mere weeks after the merger was announced and his concerns were made public, Ackman exited his position in United Technologies altogether, signaling to the market that this merger is ultimately a good deal for shareholders and his arguments against it were without merit.
President Trump’s economic reforms and deregulatory agenda have spurred a level of business activity not seen since the Reagan years and commonsense mergers and will likely be a key part of that growth for the foreseeable future. While every merger should be reviewed to make sure it aligns with free market principles, as a whole the current trend has provided significant benefits to consumers, shareholders and taxpayers.
Dan Perkins is an author of both thrillers and children’s books. He appears on over 1,100 radio stations. Mr. Perkins appears regularly on international TV talk shows, he is current events commentator for seven blogs, and a philanthropist with his foundation for American veterans, Songs and Stories for Soldiers, Inc. More information about him, his writings, and other works are available on his website, DanPerkins.guru. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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