Williams gets the board fight it deserves

August 23, 2016

A pushy investor who just quit as a director at the $21 bln U.S. pipeline operator is back with a whole new slate. Because of a deadline, however, the nominees are stand-ins until real candidates can be found. The year of M&A helter-skelter makes this new madness somehow fitting.

Pfizer bets $14 bln it knows better than market

August 22, 2016

The drug giant is paying a 120 pct premium for Medivation. It's a good fit and the biotech's cancer blockbuster is a rare gem. The whopping premium suggests Pfizer sees something others missed. But a heated auction and back-of-the-envelope math hint that the buyer is overpaying.

Pipeline rebuff could stir activist hornets’ nest

August 19, 2016

Williams, fresh off a failed merger with Energy Transfer, recently ignored larger rival Enterprise Products' approach about an $80 bln tie-up. The company's silence may prompt two pushy investors who joined a board exodus in June to lobby again to oust CEO Alan Armstrong.

Lyft’s off-ramp leads to General Motors

August 15, 2016

The No. 2 U.S. ride-hailing service recently rebuffed takeover interest from its 9 pct owner. There are good reasons for Lyft to steer clear of Detroit, despite a shared vision for autonomous cars. But cash-flush rivals could yet force the Silicon Valley upstart into GM's lane.

Indian tycoon’s $9 bln tidy-up is too clever

August 15, 2016

Kumar Mangalam Birla is merging two holding companies. That helps streamline his Aditya Birla conglomerate. But the overly complex deal gives investors on both sides reasons to grumble. One side is forced to share a healthy balance sheet and the other a promising financial arm.

Disney deal finally puts ESPN on offense

August 10, 2016

A year after sparking concerns about its sports network losing subscribers, the media conglomerate is buying a one-third stake in Major League Baseball's streaming technology firm for $1 bln. That will take ESPN direct to consumers and give Disney a valuable step into the future.

Microsoft’s Monster warning for LinkedIn deal

August 9, 2016

The software giant's $26 bln swoop for the professional social-networking site already looked pricey. offers a cautionary tale of how bad it could get. The job-listing board was once worth $8 bln until LinkedIn crushed it. Now it has sold to a rival for just $429 mln.

U.S. bank deal provides a timely reminder on M&A

August 8, 2016

Giant pension fund TIAA is snapping up EverBank for $2.5 bln. Even this non-traditional buyer should be able to slash enough costs to justify the price tag. Earnings-strapped lenders may find acquisitions increasingly necessary. Cash is also becoming an integral component.

Wal-Mart has long unicorn ride in Amazon chase

August 4, 2016

The $220 bln retail titan is reportedly in talks to buy Jet, a fledgling online-shopping site. Wal-Mart has been accelerating acquisitions of tech startups in a bid to beef up digital efforts. Amazon, however, keeps moving ahead with efforts like one-day shipping and groceries.

Time Warner as sous-chef may enhance Hulu broth

August 3, 2016

The media conglomerate bought a 10 pct stake in the digital-TV service at a $5.8 bln valuation. Hulu gets Time Warner programs but not another board member at a table crowded by rivals Disney, Fox and Comcast. This sort of arrangement may give the JV a better shot at success.