A merger boom comparable to those of the 1960s and mid-1980s occurred in the 1990s and into the new century. The merger activity of the 1960s was associated with increasing stock prices and heavy use of pooling-of-interests accounting. The mid-1980s activity was associated with a number of leveraged buyouts and acquisitions involving junk bonds. Merger activity in the early 1990s, on the other hand, appeared to involve primarily purchases with cash and standard debt instruments. By the mid-1990s, however, many business combinations were being effected through exchanges of stock. In the first decade of the new century, the nature of many business acquisitions changed, and by late 2008, the merger boom had slowed dramatically.
a. Which factors do you believe were the most prominent in encouraging business combinations in the 1990s? Which of these was the most important? Explain why.
b. Why were so many of the business combinations in the middle and late 1990s effected through exchanges of stock?
c. What factors had a heavy influence on mergers during the mid-2000s? How did many of the business combinations of this period differ from earlier combinations? Why did the merger boom slow so dramatically late in 2008 and in 2009?
d. If a major review of the tax laws were undertaken, would it be wise or unwise public policy to establish greater tax incentives for corporate mergers? Propose three incentives that might be used.
e. If the FASB were interested in encouraging more mergers, what action should it take with regard to revising or eliminating existing accounting standards? Explain.