The business world is no stranger to mergers and, while many of them fail, there have been some major successes. For example, last year proved to be big for mergers, including the one between Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller plc.
The proposed Dell Inc. EMC Corporation merger, which received FTC approval in February, is another great example. Once it goes through, this merger will create the world’s largest privately held technology company. The Dell merger promises to rank among the biggest mergers of all time, joining the 1999 Vodafone merger and when AOL purchased Time Warner in 2009.
These are the 15 biggest U.S. mergers of all time without adjusting for inflation.
#1 – Vodafone and Mannesmann
Worth: $180.95 billion
The merger between Vodafone and Mannesmann in February 2000 is the largest in history. UK-based Vodafone AirTouch PLC, now known as Vodafone Group Plc, acquired the German company despite resistance from the majority of Germans. These citizens worried that the merger represented the end for German businesses. The acquisition turned Vodafone into the world’s largest mobile operator.
#2 – AOL and Time Warner
Worth: $164 billion
AOL and Time Warner merged in January 2000 and tops the list of the most mergers ever carried out. When they announced the union, the combined companies had a market cap of $350 billion. With the deterioration of AOL and other factors, the companies are worth significantly less. This merger is considered one of the worst in the history of business and lasted nine years before Time Warner spun off AOL, Inc. as an independent company.
#3 – Verizon and Verizon Wireless (from Vodafone Group plc.)
Worth: $130 billion
Verizon Communications Inc. worked for close to a decade to acquire Vodafone Group plc.’s 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless. The firm’s efforts were successful in September 2013 when the two companies agreed to a $130 billion deal. At the time, the wireless unit was bringing in about $21.8 billion a year. The deal allowed Verizon to invest in better infrastructure in the United States and increase its competitiveness in that market.
#4 – Pfizer and Warner-Lambert (Hostile)
Worth: $90 billion
Pfizer Inc. sealed a $90 billion hostile takeover of Warner-Lambert Co. in 2000. While it made the list of most expensive mergers in history, the sum was overshadowed by the drama between companies. The three months of drama that preceded the sale led the majority of analysts to call the deal one of the most hostile takeovers in history. Warner-Lambert was supposed to be purchased by American Home Products Corp., but the company walked away from the deal with $1.8 billion in break-up fees. It marked one of the largest payouts to date for a failed deal.
#5 – AT&T and BellSouth
Worth: $86 billion
AT&T Inc. announced plans in March 2006 to acquire BellSouth. The deal was meant to give the telecom company more dominance in the wireless arena. The deal was worth $86 billion and let AT&T expand its wireless coverage into rural parts of the United States. The company also used the new merger to create bundled services including wireless services, television, and internet connections.