Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Merger Rush Sweeps the US, with More Expected in '94

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Merger Rush Sweeps the US, with More Expected in '94

Article excerpt

IT looks like the start of another banner year for mergers, takeovers, and new publicly traded companies in the United States.

Multimedia company Viacom Inc. recently announced that it will acquire video-rental giant Blockbuster Entertainment Corporation in a stock swap valued at $8 billion; medical company HealthTrust says it will acquire Epic Holdings, a hospital firm, in a deal worth $1 billion in cash and debt; and FHP International Corporation, another health-care company, will acquire TakeCare Inc. in a transaction valued at $800 million.

GT Global Development Fund, a closed-end fund with an initial public offering (IPO) of $480 million, was the first new stock offering tallied by Securities Data Corporation in 1994.

"We're anticipating another good year for IPOs," says Leslie Feldman, an expert on IPOs. Last year "turned out to be the best year ever recorded for IPOs," she says, "and economic conditions seem in place for more of the same in the months ahead."

While some market watchers object to mergers and greater corporate concentration on philosophical grounds, the merger rush is clearly on. Older companies and firms in more mature markets often find that the logical way to reduce costs and expand market share is to combine operations with another company.

In addition, mergers can provide breathing space in a saturated market for new public companies, enabling those firms to carve out niches in the shadow of corporate giants.

Last year, there were 712 IPO transactions, a record compared with the previous high of about 700 IPOs in 1986.

More than $42 billion was raised through IPOs in 1993, up from $24 billion in 1992.

Merger activity was also brisk, according to Securities Data Corporation. The total value of mergers and takeovers last year was in excess of $300 billion. …

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