15 Largest Mergers and Acquisitions in History

15 Largest Mergers and Acquisitions in HistoryGrowth is an all-encompassing word that is the focus of many business owners. How that growth is achieved might be accomplished through a few different avenues. Many small and medium-sized companies likely focus on their brand and reaching their customers, connecting through social media and having great products or services. But there is another way. Through mergers and acquisitions, companies can grow their operations and become dominant in their industries.

You can probably recall hearing about some of the largest mergers and acquisitions in history where you get your news. As conglomerates expand and seek to reach new heights, business deals like these become commonplace. In this post, we’ll examine some of the largest mergers and acquisitions of all time; but the adage, bigger doesn’t always mean better remains true for some. Let’s take a closer look.
Graphic of the largest M&As and dollar value, bar chart

The 15 Biggest Mergers and Acquisitions

Mergers and acquisitions are happening worldwide at any given time. What makes the ones on this list unique is the amount of money it costs to get the deal done. Prices on this list reflect the cost at the time and do not account for inflation.

1. Vodafone/Mannesmann – 1999 – $183B

Vodafone Group is based in Britain and is recognized as a multinational telecom company. In 1999, the business decided to pursue the acquisition of German telecom giant Mannesmann AG. There was considerable back and forth on this deal until Mannesmann accepted an offer. This deal became, and still is, the largest m&a in history.
In an effort to expand its reach, Vodafone expected the acquisition to coincide with mobile market growth and change the landscape as it was known1. But, the situation didn’t go as planned, and in years to come, Vodafone would write off billions2.

2. AOL/Time Warner – 2000 – $182B

AOL/Time Warner
America Online (AOL) was the largest internet provider in the U.S. when it decided to merge with Time Warner at the turn of the century. Together, these businesses hoped to be the dominant arm in the market regarding everything news, music, publishing, and entertainment. Once the deal happened, AOL became the largest technology company in the U.S.
However, the aftermath was not what either business hoped for. There were significant concerns from both sides regarding management and culture. During the recession in 2008, AOL stock plummeted; in 2009, the companies parted ways to operate independently3.

3. Dow Chemical/DuPont – 2015 – $130B
Dow Chemical/DuPont

A prime example of a horizontal merger or a deal between companies that sell the same products, the Dow Chemical and DuPont merger was announced in 2015 and finalized in 2017. Their combined name was DowDuPont Inc., and the organization focused on three separate sectors: agriculture, materials science, and specialty products.
The intention to merge and then separate became apparent in 2019 when the conglomerate was divided into three entities that each focused on the above-mentioned sectors4.

4. Verizon Communications/Vodafone (Verizon Wireless) – 2013 – $130B

Verizon Communications/Vodafone
At the time this deal came to light, Vodafone had a 45% stake in Verizon’s wireless division, and Verizon was interested in having complete control over where it would take this area of the company. With an acquisition from within, Verizon would essentially remove Vodafone from the U.S. market (since they are a U.K.-based company) and expand to be more agile in the mobile landscape. While Vodafone lost value due to the acquisition, it allowed the business to invest the buyout in its own endeavours and improve operations5.

5. United Technologies/Raytheon – 2020 – $121B

United Technologies/Raytheon
Another example of a horizontal merger, was the deal between United Technologies and Raytheon that brought together aerospace and defence companies. With similar strengths and the ability to meet unique infrastructure needs, the merger closed in 2020 to a lowered stock, which is in no contest due to the looming COVID-19 pandemic. In the process of closing the deal, United Technologies had to sell off its Otis and Carrier divisions to satisfy regulatory requirements. Additionally, both companies had to sell units with BAE Systems Inc6.

6. AT&T/Time Warner – 2018 – $108B (with debt)

AT&T/Time Warner
As media and its consumption was ever-changing in the late 2010s, AT&T sought to combine content and distribution to become a more significant player in both spaces. Time Warner was the ideal candidate to take the business to the next level, but it was no easy win. AT&T had to fight with the Department of Justice regarding antitrust concerns when it first attempted to buy Time Warner. Despite the breadth of AT&T compared to AOL in a previous Time Warner deal, the merger did not pan out as hoped, and in 2021, the announcement was made that the two would operate as separate companies once more7.

7. Gaz de France/Suez – 2008 – $107B

Gaz de France/Suez
The strategic horizontal merger of Gaz de France and Suez highlights how sometimes businesses come together to protect themselves from rivals. This deal is considered one of the larger ones in the energy sector. Together, the natural gas dominance of Gaz de France and the electric power of Suez became a forthright entity in the European market. The deal was partly made to protect Suez from being purchased by Italy’s Enel, an electricity and gas company8.

8. Anheuser-Busch InBev/SABMiller – 2016 – $107B

Anheuser-Busch InBev/SABMiller
Presented as an acquisition, the number one and number two largest brewers in the world decided it was best to combine their capabilities. In 2016, AB InBev, based in Belgium, and SABMiller, based in London, came together and bridged well-known brews such as Corona and Redd’s into one company. This allowed them better opportunities in expanding markets like Latin America and Africa9.
Over time, the company would add on several craft and independent breweries to keep up with demand and stay relevant in the market10.

9. Kraft Foods/H.J. Heinz – 2015 – $100B

Kraft Foods/H.J. Heinz
This merger was meant to pave the way for a U.S. food giant like no other. It would make the business the third-largest food company in North America and the fifth-largest worldwide. The deal brought well-known brands like Philadelphia and Heinz Ketchup under one umbrella and promised to be a significant revenue stream of $28 billion for the newly formed Kraft Heinz Company11.
Some are keen to criticize the deal because of the cost-cutting measures implemented by the business once the merger closed. Regardless, the organization owns more than 200 well-known products that line grocery store shelves.

10. RFS Holdings/ABN AMRO – 2007- $98B>

The acquisition of ABN AMRO positioned RFS Holdings, a corporation of banks consisting of RBS, Fortis Bank, and Banco Santander SA, to greater prominence and increased prospects. It is considered one of the largest financial takeovers in history12. All companies are still operating at their own capacity and were not consolidated but rather divided to ensure consistency and maximum reach.

11. Royal Dutch Petroleum/Shell Transport & Trading – 2004 – $95B

Royal Dutch Petroleum/Shell Transport
As a parent company, Royal Dutch/Shell was 40% owned by Shell Transport & Trading, and Royal Dutch Petroleum owned the remaining 60%. The companies had nearly a century of history together, being managed as a unit since 1907 before being unified under a singular board of directors. The move was seen as a response to the parent company’s scandal regarding downgrading oil reserves and as a way to meet the demands of investors13.

12. Bristol-Myers Squibb/Celgene – 2019 – $95B (with debt)

Bristol-Myers Squibb/Celgene
During the initial stages of this merger, both companies were not exactly at the top of their game. The additional cost for Bristol to purchase Celgene’s debt made it an unsavoury deal to investors14. On the other hand, Celgene was very interested in the deal, as the patent on their most popular cancer drug Revlimid was due to expire in a few years. The company agreed to divest its shares in Otezla, the most popular oral treatment in the United States for moderate-to-severe psoriasis15, in favour of the deal going through.

13. Pfizer/Warner-Lambert – 1999 – $90B

Considered a hostile acquisition, this deal brought together two major players in the pharmaceutical industry. At the time, the amalgamation made Pfizer the second-largest drug company in the world. The deal was designed to position both in the global marketplace better and increase efficiencies16. Many praised the deal as a merger of strengths rather than based on threats or weaknesses. The product portfolio of the newly merged company included Lipitor, Zoloft, and Viagra.

14. Linde AG/Praxair – 2017 – $86B

Linde AG/Praxair
There were many hoops to jump through when these two companies decided to move forward with a horizontal merger. Since each was a considerable player in the industrial gases and related products industry, they had to answer to several entities throughout the North American and European markets17. Eventually, German’s Linde AG and U.S.-based Praxair came to an agreed-upon amount and met restrictions in all relevant countries, including Canada, and now serves customers in more than 100 countries worldwide.

15. Charter Communications/Time Warner – 2015 – $78B

Charter Communications/Time Warner
This merger resulted in creating the third-largest pay-TV provider and second-largest broadband provider in the U.S. Once the deal closed, Charter, focused its efforts on upgrading Time Warner’s infrastructure to a digital-focused format, adding Time Warner brand under Spectrum (Charter’s branding), upgrading offerings to the cloud, and hiring new employees to improve customer experience and service18.

What is a Merger?

A merger occurs when two businesses unite to form one new company. This kind of business deal usually happens when both companies are voluntary in the transaction. The two organizations may come together for a few reasons, including gaining more market share or expanding global reach. Once the deal is done, shareholders from both previously existing businesses receive their allocated value.

Examples of Mergers

Sirius/XM Radio

Sirius/XM Radio
It took a little more than a year for Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Radio to merge into one dominant arm of the broadcasting industry. There was a concern about a monopoly emerging as a result of the deal, so several concessions had to be made to satisfy the needs of the Federal Communications Commission in the U.S.


At the time of this merger, Chrysler was the third-largest car company in the U.S. and it was about to embark on one of the biggest deals completed by a foreign investor, Daimler-Benz, based in Germany. While the deal was promising, Chrysler took a big hit to profits in 2006, and the two companies never really connected their cultures. By 2007, Daimler-Benz sold Chrysler to the Cerberus Capital Management firm.


When this merger was announced in 1998, it became the third-largest deal of all time at around $81 billion. The company retained both brands rather than amalgamation into one. It maintained status among the top oil companies in the U.S. In all, the deal created a considerable heavyweight in the global market, overcoming the Federal Trade Commission’s concerns of narrowing the market on consumer options.

What is an Acquisition?

An acquisition happens when one company (A) purchases a majority or more than 50% of another company (B) and gains control over its operations. Once complete, this deal may result in a consolidation of Company B, or it may merge with Company A. Unlike mergers, acquisitions don’t have to be voluntary. An organization may seek to acquire an enterprise as part of its growth strategy, to gain access to new technology or markets, or to decrease competition.

Examples of Acquisitions


Since acquiring Pixar in 2006, Disney has proven there is no stopping its dominance in the entertainment industry. Subsequent acquisitions include Marvel Entertainment and Lucasfilm, which granted Disney the rights to mega-hits like the Avengers franchise and the much-loved Star Wars saga. While the company has not shuttered its acquisitions, it stands to make considerable money due to the distribution of movies and other trademark-related items like merchandise and theme parks.

Facebook (Meta)/Instagram

Facebook (Meta)/Instagram
The battle for social media supremacy took a turn in 2012 when Facebook’s parent company, Meta, bought Instagram for approximately $1 billion. Many were concerned that Instagram would be shuttered or become an extended arm of Facebook, but the app kept running and instead, Meta grew the platform and built software independent of Facebook.


Gaz de France/Suez
Under the guise that Skype would improve buyer/seller relationships and communications on eBay, the company purchased the company for its video calling capabilities in 2005. However, this was not easily adopted by eBay users, and the acquisition ended up being tumultuous for the e-shopping giant. In 2011, eBay sold Skype’s equity to Microsoft for $8.5 billion.

Largest Mergers and Acquisitions in Canada

Ambition isn’t only showcased internationally. Many businesses within Canada have seen their fair share of success and struggle through mergers and acquisitions. This list covers the top five biggest deals done by Canadian companies.

  1. Agrium/Canada Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc. – 2017 – $36B (CAN)
    Agrium/Canada Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc.
    Coming on the heels of a price drop for the fertilizer industry, the Potash Corp. and Agium deal came together to create opportunities for both companies. At the time, the merger created the world’s largest potash producer and the second-largest nitrogen fertilizer producer. Combining the powers of fertilizer and agricultural retailers set both companies up for success19.
  2. Canadian Pacific Railway/Kansas City Southern – 2021 – $35B (USD, with debt)
    Canadian Pacific Railway/Kansas City Southern
    With histories dating back to the 1800s, these rail companies saw an opportunity to merge as one and become a transportation method extending through all three countries in North America. The deal underwent some concerns from regulators, but ultimately the ability to create economic opportunity pushed through with approval from Canada, the U.S., and Mexico20. (At the time of publishing, this deal was still pending)
  3. Enbridge/Spectra Energy – 2016 – $28B (USD)
    Enbridge/Spectra Energy
    Once complete, this acquisition combined a network of crude oil, liquids, and natural gas pipelines. The Canadian-based Enbridge sought to unite its assets in western Canada and the U.S. midwest with those of Spectra in the U.S. market. This included pipelines in B.C., the U.S. north and along the gulf coast21. The deal provided Enbridge with a near-equal diversity of natural gas and crude oil22.
  4. Rogers/Shaw – 2021 – $26B (CAD)
    Perhaps the most heated m&a in Canadian history, Rogers bid to acquire Shaw Communications has seen its fair share of news, including feuding family dynamics for Rogers and pushback from regulators and consumers. As the deal approached its final stages, Freedom Mobile was sold to Videotron in an effort to reduce monopoly and increase competition23. (At the time of publishing, this deal was still pending)
  5. Thomson/Reuters – 2008 – $17B (CAD)
    Thomson was a successful newspaper chain that swiftly transitioned to online news to become ever-present in the financial market. Reuters was based in London and had a long-standing history of pushing toward technology advancements. Together, they created the world’s largest provider of financial news and information. The newly branded Thomson Reuters became a direct competitor to Bloomberg at the front of the financial market25.

In Summary

M&A are a natural part of the business industry. Mostly, the biggest acquisitions and mergers of all time are promising opportunities that help innovate and grow sectors and companies to reach a higher potential. But not all deals work out for the best. Even the most informed advisors and analysts can encounter struggles unrelated to governing commissions or antitrust concerns. Additionally, these M&A examples only include large companies, but small and medium-sized companies can pursue these deals for the same advantages. In any case, having a knowledgeable and experienced M&A advisor in your corner is something you can’t do without if you’re seeking a merger or acquisition for your business.

Mergers & Acquisitions at Sunbelt Canada

Sunbelt Canada has facilitated many successful mergers and acquisitions throughout our decades in the business industry. We have often assisted firms in expanding vertically by acquiring manufacturing, distribution, sales or marketing firms that integrate with the acquiring firm to increase profits, support growth, reduce risk and reliance on suppliers, and other benefits.

We also have experience regarding horizontal acquisitions, with acquiring firms wanting to expand geographically, increase sales and purchasing power and gain increased margins through reduced costs due to combining functions.
An acquisition may enable rapid growth due to increasing available capital and the provision of some services that the acquired company can benefit from. Potentially, the acquisition could be prompted by a desire to increase the products or services available to existing clients. These types of actions are not restricted to large companies but are also pursued by small and medium-sized businesses. In fact, the vast majority of mergers & acquisitions involve small companies looking to grow.

At Sunbelt, our advisors have worked in this industry for decades and bring our expertise to the table to ensure you make the best move. To learn more about our services, contact us.

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2Garg, Rachit. 2021. “Largest Merger in History : Vodafone-Mannesmann.” IPleaders. April 30, 2021. https://blog.ipleaders.in/largest-merger-history-vodafone-mannesmann.
3History.com Editors. 2009. “AOL-Time Warner Formed.” HISTORY. November 13, 2009. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/aol-time-warner-formed.
4Reuters. 2017. “Dow and Dupont Complete Historic Chemical Merger – BNN Bloomberg.” BNN. September 1, 2017. https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/company-news/article/dow-and-dupont-complete-historic-chemical-merger-1.844794.
5Reuters. 2013. “Verizon, Vodafone Agree to $130 Billion Wireless Deal,” September 3, 2013, sec. Financial Services & Real Estate. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-vodafone-verizon-idUSBRE97S08C20130903.
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8Reuters. 2008. “TIMELINE: Key Dates in Gaz de France-Suez Merger,” July 15, 2008, sec. Utilities – Natural Gas. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-suez-gdf-idUSL1572930220080715.
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12Kumar, B. Rajesh. 2018. “ABN AMRO Acquisition by RFS Holding.” Wealth Creation in the World’s Largest Mergers and Acquisitions, November, 131–35. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-02363-8_12.
14Jr, Angelica LaVito, Berkeley Lovelace. 2019. “Bristol-Myers Squibb’s $74 Billion Acquisition of Celgene Would Combine Two Troubled Companies.” CNBC. January 3, 2019. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/03/bristol-myers-squibb-shares-fall-on-74-billion-celgene-acquisition.html.
15“Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and Celgene Corporation, in the Matter Of.” 2019. Federal Trade Commission. November 15, 2019. https://www.ftc.gov/legal-library/browse/cases-proceedings/191-0061-bristol-myers-squibb-company-celgene-corporation-matter.
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17Reuters. 2016. “Linde, Praxair Agree $65 Billion Merger Outline, Ambitious Cost Savings,” December 20, 2016, sec. Commodities. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-linde-m-a-praxair-terms-idUSKBN1491FW.
18Littleton, Cynthia, and Cynthia Littleton. 2016. “What’s next Now That Charter-Time Warner Cable Merger Is Complete.” Variety. May 18, 2016. https://variety.com/2016/tv/news/charter-time-warner-cable-merger-completed-1201777511/.
19Potash Corp., Agrium Agree to Merger That Would Create $36B Agriculture Giant.” 2016. CBC. September 13, 2016. https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/potash-agrium-merger-1.3757953#:~:text=Sergei%20Karpukhin%2FReuters.
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22Government of Canada, Canada Energy Regulator. 2021. “CER – 2016 Review: Major Pipeline Deals Dominate Energy Mergers and Acquisitions.” Www.cer-Rec.gc.ca. October 6, 2021. https://www.cer-rec.gc.ca/en/data-analysis/energy-markets/market-snapshots/2017/2016-review-major-pipeline-deals-dominate-energy-mergers-acquisitions.html?=undefined&wbdisable=true.
23“Competition Tribunal Approves Rogers-Shaw Merger with Videotron Purchase of Freedom Mobile.” n.d. Montrealgazette. Accessed January 27, 2023. https://montrealgazette.com/business/competition-tribunal-approves-rogers-shaw-merger-with-videotron-purchase-of-freedom-mobile.
24Austen, Ian. 2007. “Thomson Adds Reuters in $17 Billion Bid to Be Giant.” The New York Times, May 16, 2007, sec. Business. https://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/16/business/media/16thomson.html.
25“Reuters Agrees to Thomson Merger.” 2007. The Guardian. May 15, 2007. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2007/may/15/reuters.pressandpublishing.

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Gregory Kells
Greg Kells is the Founder and President of Sunbelt Canada, the number one business brokerage in the country. He has directly facilitated the sale of over 1,000 businesses and is a two-time winner of Businessperson of the Year in Ottawa. Greg is passionate about mentoring and teaching, with experience as a guest lecturer at Harvard, Yale, Duke, and various colleges across Canada. He is active in numerous community organizations and advocates for economic empowerment, the environment, science, and technology.
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