THE URGE TO MERGE: Why More Industries Say: I Do

NOT since the 19203 has U.S. business been so caught up with the urge to merge. Among U.S. firms, mergers jumped from 846 a year in 1955 to 1,050 last year. At that increasing rate, 1960 promises to set a new postwar record for corporate marriages. Hardly a week goes by without a flurry of announcements. Mergers—and rumors of mergers—are rampant among companies in the food, airline, railroad, paper, chemical, electronics and machinery industries. What caused the big jump?

Today's mergers are different from those in two previous waves: at the turn of the century, and in the '205. In...

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