The 10 most costly acquisitions in history

Two kings sat next to each other on a chessboard at check-mate.

There are various reasons for acquiring a company: to gain talent, to aggressively close down a competitor or to get access to patents, equipment, and technologies. Most of these acquisitions are expensive and come with a huge price tag. We have gathered a countdown of ten of the world’s most expensive acquisitions in corporate history. Our list starts with the smallest amount: $73.5 billion which Sanofi paid when it acquired Aventis.

#10. Aventis acquired by Sanofi for $73.5 Billion

Back in 2004, in order to expand its share of the pharmaceutical market, the French manufacturer Sanofi-Synthélabo was looking to acquire another French company: Aventis. A hostile takeover attempt by Sanofi for €47.8 billion failed when Aventis reacted by diluting its shares. After all this mess, both the parties merged to form a bigger and better Sanofi-Aventis.

#9. AT&T Broadband acquired by Comcast for $76.1 Billion

Next up on the list is the historic acquisition of AT&T Broadband by Comcast in 2001. Both are competitors and huge media providers in America. In one swift move, the acquisition made Comcast the market leader and the biggest cable provider in the United States. This and many other acquisitions over the next ten years made Comcast the giant mass media communications provider that it is today.

#8. Shell Transport and Trading acquired by Royal Dutch Shell for $80.1 Billion

This acquisition may seem peculiar to some: Royal Dutch Shell and Shell Transport and Trading belonged to the same parent company before the acquisition happened. Before this, in 1907, a merger had happened between Royal Dutch Petroleum Company and Shell Transport and Trading. However, keeping in view the nationalist sentiments existing in England and Netherland, the two companies kept operations separate. In 2004, approximately a century later, the business environment was supporting, and Royal Dutch Shell completed the remaining part of the deal paying Shell Transport and Trading a staggering $80.1 billion.

#7. Mobil acquired by Exxon for $80.3 Billion

Most of us know the name of ExxonMobil, an oil giant formed as a result of the acquisition of Mobil by Exxon in 2004. Both companies were formed when John D. Rockefellers’ Standard Oil Company was split into 33 smaller companies in 1911.

#6. AT&T acquired by SBC for $83.1 Billion

In 1984, American courts decided that AT&T would have to be broken up into numerous smaller companies. SouthWestern Bell was formed which later transformed into SBC Communications in 1995. Later, in 2005 SBC Communications acquired AT&T for a mouth-opening $83.1 Billion.

#5. Warner-Lambert acquired by Pfizer for $87.3 Billion

After Sanofi-Aventis, it may seem that pharmaceutical companies are fond of acquisitions. This is because, in 2000, Pfizer acquired Warner-Lambert for $87.3 Billion. Pfizer is a pharmaceutical giant based in various countries across the globe.

#4. ABN AMRO Holding acquired by Fortis, Banco Santander, Royal Bank of Scotland Group for $100 Billion

In 2007, Fortis, Banco Santander and Royal Bank of Scotland Group decided to acquire ABN AMRO Holding. However, in 2008, Fortis was badly affected and had to rebrand as Ageas.

#3. Phillip Morris International sold by Altria for $107 Billion

After its rebranding in 2003, Altria had to separate from the various tobacco holdings and decided to sell the international wing of Phillip Morris for a hefty sum of $107 billion.

#2. Mannesmann acquired by Vodafone Airtouch for $185.1 Billion

In 1999, the German competitor Mannesmann was acquired for $185.1 billion by Vodafone Airtouch. When Mannesmann began to operate in the UK, Vodafone decided to make the move to reduce competition.

#1. Time Warner acquired by America Online for $186.2 Billion

In 2000, AOL acquired Time Warner for $186.2 billion which later turned out to be a huge disappointment when it didn’t meet expectations of growth.