Mergers and acquisitions often dominate headlines: “Apple Acquires Quattro Wireless for $250 M” or “Bank of America Acquires Merrill Lynch for $50B.” Acquisitions consolidate financial and physical resources within a short period of time. Google, Bank of America, and Disney are all companies that have greatly benefited from mergers and acquisitions. While most companies initially grow organically from the ground up, businesses can use merger and acquisition strategies to accelerate further growth.

Mergers and acquisitions require significant time and financial investment. “In serving on major company boards of directors over the years,” writes Betsy Atkins, of Forbes, “I’ve found that evaluating merger-and-acquisition opportunities can be the most high stakes role a board plays–and also the most frustrating.”  We walk you through the top reasons to merge or acquire a company:

Gain Market Leadership

There is not a defined leader in the mobile ad market. Consequently, many of the largest tech companies are acquiring mobile ad networks in the race for market leadership. Google and Apple are two clear competitors vying for market share. Apple’s recent acquisition of Quattro Wireless for over $250 million dialed-up the competition with Google, which acquired AdMob in Nov. 2009. “The [AdMob] deal is similar to mobile advertising acquisitions that AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Apple have made in the past two years,” writes Google, “and experts have called mobile advertising a ‘very fragmented’ space, in which ‘no ad network is dominant’ and ‘no one really knows what ad network is biggest.’”

Acquire New Customers

When MySpace acquired online music site, Imeem in Dec. 2009 the social network funneled all of the Imeem accounts to MySpace.com. It was a natural fit as MySpace and Imeem had a similar product offering — both sites built communities around avid music enthusiasts. In June 2009, Imeem Mobile reached the milestone of 1 million downloads on the iPhone and Android and had nearly 10 million site visits in July 2009, according to Compete.com. In an attempt to curb declining usership, MySpace bought Imeem to grow its user-base.

Expand Product Portfolio

Since Google’s rise to the top of the search engine market, it has greatly expanded its product portfolio. The search giant has acquired nearly 60 companies to expand its capabilities in the tech world. The largest acquisition was of DoubleClick in mid-2007. While AdSense served as Google’s primary advertising platform, the search giant sought to expand its product portfolio by acquiring the banner advertising company for $3.1 billion.

Achieve Scale

Macy’s was able to achieve incredible scale in a short period of time. The NYC-based retailer grew from several stores to a national brand. Macy’s parent company, Federated, acquired the May Departments Stores Company for $11 billion in stock. Soon thereafter, the Macy’s company grew from a handful of stores to a total 850 locations in 2006.

Obtain New Talents and Skill-Sets

While there are many underlying elements of Bank of America’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch, one reason the Main Street bank purchased the famed Wall Street all-star was to obtain new skill sets. “The most forward thinking integration strategies also capture key pieces of elusive core competencies, such as an organization’s best practices, skills, knowledge bases, and routines,” writes Graziado Business Report. Bank of America’s $50 billion merger tapped into Merrill Lynch’s nearly 16,000 financial advisers. After the acquisition, the Main Street bank had Wall Street prowess.

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