The 1960s saw the most substantial wave of merger activity the British economy had experienced since the 1920s. As Figure 6.1 shows, the annual value of acquisitions increased sharply after the early 1950s, culminating in the spectacular merger wave of 1967–9 which brought together G.E.C., A.E.I. and English Electric; British Motor Corporation and Leyland; created the giant Bass Charrington brewing chain; and generated proposals (subsequently abandoned) for a massive Unilever-Allied Breweries merger to create an industrial giant in the food and drink industries. During recent decades, also, merger has caught the popular imagination as never before. The contested takeover bid, where would-be acquirers appealed directly to shareholders over the heads of a hostile management, was almost unknown before the fifties. It was still very unusual in the fifties and sixties, accounting for only a tiny fraction of all merger activity, but instances of it would generate news headlines for weeks as the battles of I.C.I. to win control of Courtaulds or of G.E.C. to acquire A.E.I. developed.
KeywordsSmall Firm Large Firm Share Price Modern Industry Herfindahl Index
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