The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Mergers and Acquisitions:
The harmful game of finance

Jan 8, 2007

2006 was a record year for business mergers and acquisitions. These added up to four trillion dollars across the world. There were 1.5 trillion dollars of buyouts in the U.S. and 1.4 trillion dollars in Europe.

The biggest deal was AT&T buying BellSouth for 86 billion dollars. Bank of America bought the credit card company MBNA Corp. for 34 billion dollars. ConocoPhilips, rich with oil profits, bought Burlington Resources Inc. for 36 billion dollars. Boston Scientific bought Guidant for 28 billion dollars. Mittal Steel based in Holland bought the European Arcelor steel company for 34 billion dollars. This merger includes the ownership of some of the biggest U.S. steel companies like Bethlehem and LTV.

The opening up of underdeveloped countries and the privatization of state-owned companies offered tempting targets, where financial circles compete with each other to buy up whole countries for a song.

But none of these financial maneuvers resulted in productive investment, nor any expansion of production which could increase consumption and employment. The capitalists buy up each others’ companies only to monopolize markets, eliminate competitors, and further concentrate their sector. Their “rationalization” means getting rid of jobs, closing factories and stepping up exploitation of the workers who remain.

A giant corporation sees its stock price go up and the value of its stock on the stock exchange soar. But what does that count for when it results only in more unemployment and misery for working people?