Combination of two or more independent business corporations into a single enterprise, usually involving the absorption of one or more firms by a dominant firm. The dominant firm may purchase the other firm's assets with cash or securities, purchase the other firm's stock, or issue its own stock to the other firm's stockholders in exchange for their shares in the acquired firm (thus acquiring the other company's assets and liabilities). In horizontal mergers, both firms produce the same commodity or service for the same market. In vertical mergers, a firm acquires either a supplier or a customer. If the merged business is not related to that of the acquiring firm, the new corporation is called a conglomerate. The reasons for mergers are various: the acquiring firm may seek to eliminate a competitor, to increase its efficiency, to diversify its products, services, and markets, or to reduce its taxes.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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