Acquisitionsis a general term that describes the consolidation of companies or assets through various types of financial transactions, including mergers, acquisitions, consolidations, tender offers, purchase of assets, and management acquisitions.
When one company takes over another and establishes itself as the new owner, the purchase is called an acquisition.
On the other hand, a merger describes two firms, of approximately the same size, that join forces to move forward as a single new entity, rather than remain separately owned and operated. This action is known as a merger of equals. Case in point: Both Daimler-Benz and Chrysler ceased to exist when the two firms merged, and a new company, DaimlerChrysler, was created. Both companies' stocks were surrendered, and new company stock was issued in its place.1
A purchase deal will also be called a merger when both CEOs agree that joining together is in the best interest of both of their companies.
Unfriendly or hostile takeover deals, in which target companies do not wish to be purchased, are always regarded as acquisitions. A deal can be classified as a merger or an acquisition based on whether the acquisition is friendly or hostile and how it is announced. In other words, the difference lies in how the deal is communicated to the target company's board of directors, employees, and shareholders.