10 Greatest Monday Mergers

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Twice in October, bankers, investors and bleary-eyed journalists came into their offices wondering if Merger Monday was back.

It all started on Oct. 16, when during a Patriots-Cowboys Sunday showdown, Kinder Morgan ( KMI) said it was buying El Paso ( EP) for $21.1 billion in a cash and stock deal.

It was the second-largest takeover of the year after AT&T's ( T) now challenged $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile in March. Not to be outdone, before the market open that Monday, Norwegian oil giant Statoil ( STO) said it was buying Brigham Exploration ( BEXP) for $4.4 billion in an all-cash deal valuing the company at $36.50 a share.

The deals came as a surprise. Banks were beginning to report that their investment banking divisions had some of their worst earnings since the crisis in the quarter ended in September -- Europe's sovereign debt and banking system added an even darker pall over dealmaking.

At first glance, the merger flurry signaled that energy companies were pouncing on opportunistic takeover prices. We called the deals an energy M&A boom.

Then on Monday, Oct 24, Oracle ( ORCL), Cigna ( CI), J.M. Smucker ( SJM) and Mattel ( MAT) announced billions more worth of takeovers. Without a common theme, we decided Merger Monday was back.

With what many say is a stock market ripe with low-priced companies ready to picked up by an aggressive player, TheStreet thought it was time to go back in time and find the all-time greats in Merger Monday history.

According to data compiled by Bloomberg, below are a list of the 10 biggest deals in Merger Monday history (we've counted weekends and Monday evenings). From our deals dig, it looks like Dow Jones Industrial Average components AT&T ( T), Pfizer ( PFE) and Bank of America ( BAC) like to work on Mondays. The list also shows just how far gone we are from bumper dealmaking years. Click through for the deals.

On May 3, 2009, Merck ( MRK) announced it would buy Schering-Plough for $41.1 billion in cash and stock, creating a combined pharmaceutical powerhouse with sales of nearly $50 billion. The deal was widely expected after Merck lost out on a larger pharmaceuticals bid that also makes our Merger Monday list, and was seen as a way for the company to consolidate costs and prepare for the expiration of key patents -- an omnipresent theme in the industry. Schering was founded in 1851 and merged with Plough in 1971 to create the legendary conglomerate.

For Merck, which was preparing for its allergy and asthma drug Singulair to go generic, the merger gave it Schering products with longer patent lives like allergy spray Nasonex as well as a popular suntan lotion brand in Coppertone, an insole-maker in Dr. Scholl's and a stronger international presence.

Not everyone was pleased with the deal. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D., N.Y.) criticized the merger because of the company's joint development of cholesterol drug Vytorin and questions about its marketing and safety. Schumer wrote in a statement to The New York Times: "The last time these two companies teamed up, it was to aggressively market a brand-name drug that may not have provided any additional benefits over existing generics. That incident left a sour taste in the mouths of a lot of people."

That August, Merck and Schering-Plough settled a class-action lawsuit regarding the drug for $41.5 million. In November, they completed their merger.

On Monday, Oct. 27, 2003, Bank of America ( BAC) announced it would buy FleetBoston for $48 billion in a push by the North Carolina-based banking giant into the Northeast. At the time, the combined bank was set to become the nation's second largest by assets at $933 billion -- controlling nearly 10% of U.S. bank deposits. The bank was to be second to Citigroup's ( C) $1.2 trillion in deposits.

The deal, which used a cash and stock conversion, valued FleetBoston at $45 a share, a 40% premium to shares prior to the announcement -- the highest premium in a large bank deal in a decade at the time, according to SNL Financial. Previously, both Bank of America and FleetBoston had been acquisitive -- Bank of America in another Merger Monday all-time great deal and Fleet in its $16 billion purchase of Bank of Boston. Combined, Fleet and Bank of Boston had more than 200 years of U.S. banking experience before being rolled up into Bank of America.

Presently, Bank of America has more than $2.2 trillion in assets, second to JPMorgan Chase's ( JPM) $2.28 trillion.

On a Sunday evening on July 9, 2001, Comcast ( CMCSA) bought AT&T Broadband in an all-stock merger worth $58 billion when counting AT&T Broadband debt. The merger combined the top cable provider in the U.S. with the third largest, turning Comcast into a cable behemoth.

The sale of Broadband was a part of AT&T's reorganization into four businesses, AT&T Wireless, Broadband, Consumer and Business. Previously, AT&T had been deconglomerating in spins of its Lucent and NCR divisions in the 1990s.

With AT&T Broadband, the combined company was to have 22 million subscribers and be a leader in 8 of the 10 biggest U.S. markets. For Comcast's Philadelphia-based Roberts family, who also owned the Philadelphia 76ers and Flyers, it solidified their perch at the top of the cable world, as competitors like Adelphia were to crumble in accounting fraud schemes.

Signaling a propensity to do Monday deals, Bank of America merged with NationsBank on April 13, 1998, for $60 billion in the largest-ever U.S. bank combination at the time. Of the deal, legendary NationsBank head Hugh McColl called the merger "the watershed event in the nation's banking history." That same day Bank One bought First Chicago for $30 billion, making it a truly epic Merger Monday.

In the deal, San Fransisco-based Bank of America was taken over by NationsBank, ending the NationsBank brand that had a legacy that stretched to the industrial revolution in 1874. With the merger, the Bank of America name spread through NationsBank's regional presence in the south and on its Charlotte, N.C., headquarters.

The merger closed in early October 1998, briefly creating the nation's largest bank with $570 billion in deposits.

In 2001, McColl stepped down as head of NationsBank and was succeeded by Ken Lewis, who drove Bank of America's 2004 FleetBoston purchase along with other acquisitions like MBNA, U.S. Trust, LaSalle Bank, and more recently Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch. Lewis's final two mergers sealed his legacy as the controversial builder of now goliath Bank of America.

On Monday, July 15, 2002, Pfizer bought its rival Pharmacia in a $60 billion merger that created the world's largest drugmaker. The combined company had $48 billion in revenue.

For Pfizer, it would add blockbuster arthritis drug Celebrex to its array of drug brands including Viagra, Lipitor and Zoloft.

The merger ended a 90-plus-year history for Pharmacia, which was founded in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1911. In 1995, Pharmacia moved out of Sweden through a merger with U.S. drugmaker UpJohn. Pharmacia & UpJohn merged with agricultural giant Monsanto ( MON) in 2000 to create a conglomerate.

In the Pfizer merger, Pharmacia spun off its ownership stake in Monsanto and was acquired by Pfizer for $45.08 a share.

After the merger closed, Pharmacia wonder-drug Celebrex along with Pfizer painkiller Bextra were seen in tests to have negative side-effects beyond what was disclosed in advertisements. In 2008, the company settled a $900 million class action lawsuit about Celebrex and the marketing of Bextra.

On May 11, 1998, SBC Communications, a former division of broken-up AT&T bought Ameritech for $62 billion. It was the second largest merger in U.S. history at the time and combined a West Coast powerhouse in SBC with Chicago -based giant Ameritech.

The deal also combined three of the former "Baby Bells," a play on the nickname "Ma Bell" given to AT&T prior to its Department of Justice-mandated breakup in 1982. Previously, SBC bought Pacific Telesis Group in a $16.5 billion merger in 1997.

The largest telecom merger of the day, dwarfing WorldCom's $42 billion merger with MCI, the combined companies were still just regional powerhouses. When combined, the two companies served only 20 of the 50 biggest urban markets in the U.S. While antitrust authorities broke up AT&T fearing a monopoly, the SBC-Ameritech merger was just the beginning of a consolidation wave that's put AT&T back into antitrust crosshairs.

In the biggest post-crisis merger yet, Pfizer ( PFE) bought drugmaker Wyeth for $68 billion on Jan. 1, 2009, in a deal that grew New York-based Pfizer's dominance as the world's leading drugmaker. During the worst recession since the Great Depression, the deal also was expected to bring with it tens of thousands of job cuts.

Pfizer said it would close five plants and cut 20,000 jobs in the merger process. The deal valued Wyeth at $50.19 a share and was a near 30% premium to the company's stock price before deal rumors leaked.

Since the deal, Pfizer has grown annual revenue nearly 20% but its profitability has lagged. Many considered the deal to be a strategy for Pfizer to remedy its loss of a patent on cholesterol drug Lipitor. Wyeth, founded in 1860, was most widely known for its Advil painkillers.

On April 6, 1998, Citicorp ( C) merged with Travelers for $70 billion in the largest merger in U.S. banking history and one that kicked off a frenetic set of April merger Mondays that reshaped the U.S. financial industry. At the time, the combination of banking giant Citicorp and insurance and mutual funds giant Travelers was seen by its chief executive Sandy Weill to create a "financial supermarket" where all finance products could be bought under one roof, or Travelers umbrella, which remained as the logo of the combined entity.

The merger was a challenge to the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, which separated investment banks that underwrite securities from and commercial banks that take in deposits and make loans. The Federal Reserve approved the combination on a temporary waiver from the Act until the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Blilely Act was signed into law, paving the way for combinations between investment and commercial banks.

The new company was called Citigroup, and with $698 billion in assets at the time, it surpassed The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi as the world's largest financial institution. It was the capstone of a set of mergers by Weill, who formed Travelers by buying Wall Street titans Drexel Burnham Lambert, Shearson and Salomon Brothers.

In 2005, Citigroup sold Travelers ( TRV) to MetlLife ( MET) for $11.5 billion. New Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit has been unraveling Weill's empire after the company lost billions in 2008 and needed $45 billion in Treasury funds to survive the financial crisis.

After breaking itself up from the 1980s through the 1990s and into the early 2000s, AT&T capped off its hydralike regrowth into a telephone and wireless powerhouse with its $85 billion acquisition of BellSouth on Monday, March 5, 2006.

The deal combined the nation's largest and third-largest phone companies and also put AT&T in control of its Cingular Wireless joint venture with BellSouth. The deal was the largest telephones merger in U.S. history after regulators nixed an effort by MCI to buy Sprint ( S) for $115 billion in 1999.

For AT&T, it was a push to take back previously spun wireless services, like its AT&T Wireless division, which it sold to Cingular in 2004 for $41 billion. Previously, SBC, a "Ma Bell" offspring, bought AT&T in a $16 billion merger in 2004 after also eating Ameritech in a Merger Monday all-time great deal in 1998. SBC assumed the AT&T name and with the BellSouth merger, returned to its early 1980s-like dominance.

"Twenty years after the government broke up Ma Bell, this deal represents a mother and child reunion," said Rep. Ed Markey, the ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet after the deal was announced.

The deal was completed that December -- but it may be AT&T's last Merger Monday great. This year, its proposed $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile has been iced by the Department of Justice.

Fireworks set off on Monday, Jan. 10, 2000, when AOL ( AOL) bought Time Warner ( TWX) for $162 billion in the biggest corporate merger of all time.

The merger put then dial-up Internet and search giant AOL together with media conglomerate Time Warner, and valued the magazines, movies and cable television giant at double the price of its shares prior to the announcement in a combination that was thought to bring new media together with old.

"This merger will launch the next Internet revolution," said Steve Case, AOL's co-founder and chief executive at the time. It was also a reflection of the heady, stock-based takeovers of the pre-dot com crash era. At the time, AOL's revenue of $4.8 billion could barely cover 3% of the deal value.

The AOL-Time Warner company continued to set records after the merger. After reporting a fourth-quarter loss of $45 billion, AOL-Time Warner lost $100 billion in 2003, the biggest annual loss in corporate history.

After defections, losses and probes by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the companies split apart in 2009. In a 2010 speech, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes called the merger "the biggest mistake in corporate history."

-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York

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