The Takeover Cowboys

A posse of hard-nosed, American-style capitalists is leading a stampede of mergers across Europe

Olivetti, a failed Italian typewriter maker reincarnated as a communications firm, stuns Europe's stock markets with a dramatic, $65 billion offer to take over Telecom Italia, a telephone behemoth seven times its size. A cozy merger between Societe Generale and Paribas, two of France's leading banks, is thrown into disarray when a rival Paris financial house proposes to swallow them both. A battle for control of Italian fashion giant Gucci turns venomous when a French billionaire proclaims that he has snatched the company from the clutches of a rival French raider.

For Americans who have long since grown used to the...

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