Following a year that saw a spate of blockbuster mergers and acquisitions - notable ones such as Walmart's (WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Reportpurchase of Amazon's (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report e-commerce rival Jet.com and Microsoft's (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Reportacquisition of LinkedIn (LNKD) - dealmakers expect things to simmer down a bit this year.
M&A activity is expected to decline 5% in the second quarter of 2017, compared to the previous quarter's 5% growth, Intralinks said in a recent report.
"Dealmakers, nervous about U.S. President Donald Trump's election campaign promises to pursue a nationalist, protectionist and anti-globalization agenda if elected, may be choosing to sit on their hands to see how the campaign rhetoric translates into policy of the new administration," Intralinks said.
Partnerships, mergers and acquisitions are great for companies looking to drive growth or gain a competitive edge, but not all that look good on paper turn out well - just like any relationship.
Here are three somewhat recent deals that didn't see a happy ending.
Starbucks sucked the life out of Square in this partnership.
The Starbucks (SBUX) - Get Starbucks Corporation Report and Square (SQ) - Get Square, Inc. Class A Reportpartnership, which broke up in the fourth quarter of 2016, was the definition of a one-sided relationship, as Barron's pointed out in a recent article. In 2012, Starbucks invested $25 million in the payments-processor led by founder Twitter's (TWTR) - Get Twitter, Inc. Report Jack Dorsey, which was privately held at the time. Square agreed to process Starbucks' credit and debit card transactions in the U.S., which reduced the coffee retailer's costs.
However, it was not until years later when Square filed for its IPO - the company went public in November 2015 - was it revealed that Square wasn't getting very much out of the partnership. While Square generated $115 million in sales in 2013 from the Starbucks transactions, it spent $140 million on the cost to do it.
Square pledged in its IPO filings with the SEC that it would not renew its contract with Starbucks and in its recent fourth quarter, the company disclosed that it was finally out of the lopsided relationship. Starbucks holds a 4.5% stake in Square as of Dec. 31, compared to the 27.4% it held in 2015.
RadioShack successor appears to be bitter and takes it out on Sprint.
Issues between Sprint (S) - Get SENTINELONE, INC. Report and General Wireless Operations, the successor to RadioShack, appears to have contributed to the company's bankruptcy filed on Wednesday. General Wireless - formed through the partnership of Sprint and New York hedge fund Standard General - petitioned for Chapter 11 protection, and blamed its financial issues in part on Sprint.
Under the terms of the partnership, through which General Wireless acquired defunct RadioShack Corp. out of bankruptcy roughly two years ago, Sprint agreed to keep the first $60 million of cash commissions it generates for itself and pay the rest to the RadioShack business. However, General Wireless CEO Dene Rogers said in court papers that it "became apparent to the debtors" that this would not happen in 2016 and likely commissions would not be received, even in a "substantially reduced amount until 2018."
Rogers said this was due to falling mobile sales at Sprint, although the wireless provider denied this, saying that its postpaid phone net additions have grown in the last three quarters.
Jet.com's founder Marc Lore seems to be doing much better with Walmart than Amazon.
And how can we talk about bad relationships without mentioning the Marc Lore, Amazon debacle? Walmart has already benefited from Lore leaving Amazon to launch Jet as he has moved quickly to jumpstart Walmart's struggling e-commerce operations, which he now oversees. To be sure, Lore's leaving Amazon is surely haunting CEO Jeff Bezos.
Amazon purchased Lore's former company Quidsi, behind Diapers.com and Soap.com, in 2010 for $550 million. Although Amazon still owns Quidsi, Lore left after about two years amid complaints that Amazon was not being transparent enough with consumers and employees. Plus, Lore was likely still bitter that he was forced into selling to Amazon after being beaten down in the e-commerce price wars.
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