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Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

Mergers and Acquisitions – The Relentless Pursuit of Synergy

Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and American Institute of Business and Economics via Coursera

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The area of mergers and acquisitions (M&As) is special in finance. Incredible amounts of money are employed in such transactions. Deals draw a lot of public attention and dispute. Oftentimes, stories look more like fairy tales rather than financial reality.
The key idea in any M&A transaction is to create value through a potentially synergetic activity. To this end, it is important to have a clear motive and implementation plan. Of special importance are the correct valuation, proper financing, and actual deal completion. But this is not the end – value mostly accrues from the post-merger integration.
The understanding of the motives of various stakeholders is instrumental in the analysis of the potential creation of value.
The learners will gain insight into the core value creating M&A strategies. They will be able to use the obtained knowledge and skills to successfully advance in their career at a financial institution, as well as in the area of financial management at non-financial businesses. Finally, the Course is very helpful in successful completion of the Specialization’s Final Project.


  • Why M&As? Stakeholders, Framework and Process. Legal and Regulatory Environment. Accounting and Tax Issues an Overview
    • In Week 1 we paint the big picture of the M&A field. We identify the value creation as the key motive behind these deals. In order to analyze the value creation process, we introduce the stakeholders’ approach and study stakeholders’ motives in some detail. Then we discuss the idea of synergy as the core objective of a successful M&A transaction and its pitfalls.
      We introduce the framework and process of M&As and discuss the overall environment of these transactions – legal and regulatory issues (especially, antitrust motives), accounting treatment of M&As, and some important tax considerations. We will see how the transaction environment and treatment influence the potential of successful implementation of a transaction and the corresponding value creation.
  • Strategy and M&As. Theories of M&As
    • In Week 2 of the Course we discuss corporate strategy and its role in value creation. We revisit some well-known schools of strategic thinking and frameworks of strategy formulation and implementation. Our objective is to understand strategic motives behind M&A transactions.
      Equipped with the overall understanding of strategy, we proceed with the discussion of major theories of M&As – the motives behind the planned transactions that have the value creation potential. In all theories we try to reveal the actual interests of the key stakeholders.
      Finally, we study the actual deal mechanics and ways to overcome incumbent shareholder resistance (the free-rider problem).
  • Valuation of M&As
    • Week 3 is devoted to the central topic of the Course – M&A valuation. We start with the analysis of the importance of valuation in the potential value creation. Then we discuss and compare alternative approaches to valuation, paying special attention to free cash flow (FCF) valuation.
      We analyze major value drivers – profitability, growth, cost of capital etc. and derive general valuation formulas for special cases of no growth, constant and supernormal growth. Then we apply the formulas to analyze value gains/losses in M&A transactions on examples.
  • M&A Financing. LBOs and MBOs
    • In Week 4 we study M&A financing. Motives, theories, and deal mechanics are fine – but where’s the money? If a transaction is friendly, a stock payment is likely to help. But what if there’s a conflict? Then a lot of cash is needed, and a lot of debt must be issued. One way is issuing junk bonds. We discuss both facts and myths about junk bonds.
      Then we consider LBO and MBO transactions. First, we analyze how a company may be taken private through heavy borrowing and further gradual debt repayment. We illustrate the mechanics of an LBO/MBO transaction on a detailed example. Finally, comments on a famous LBO case – RJR Nabisco – are provided.
  • Value-Creating Strategies. Anti-Takeover Defenses. Corporate Governance and Performance. Conclusions – the Relentless Pursuit of Value
    • Week 5 – the final week of the Course – focuses on the details of value creating strategies. We start with share repurchases and their effect on value. Then we analyze anti-takeover defenses as value creating strategies.
      We proceed with the discussion of corporate governance. Although in M&As this concept has somewhat narrower meaning, we try to relate the advantages and costs of a well-functioning and efficient corporate governance system to the development of the M&A market. On a specific example we analyze the potentially value-destroying conflicts that may arise from the underdeveloped corporate governance system.
      Finally, we identify the role of post-transaction merger integration in the creation of value. We provide some conclusions on M&A efficiency and synergy. At the very end, we summarize the Course and the Specialization and briefly discuss the Final Project.

Taught by

Konstantin Kontor


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