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Merger Arbitrage


Merger Arbitrage is an investment strategy that involves buying and selling the stocks of two merging companies. It aims to capitalize on the price discrepancies that occur before and after a merger or acquisition. Profit is made when the deal is finalized and the target company’s stock price meets the acquisition price.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Merger Arbitrage” is:Merger: /ˈmɝːdʒər/Arbitrage: /ˈɑːr.bɪ.trɑːʒ/

Key Takeaways

  1. Risks and Rewards: Merger arbitrage involves betting on or against the completion of corporate mergers and acquisitions, offering potentially high yields but also high risk due to deal uncertainty and market volatility.
  2. Trading Techniques: Traders typically buy shares of the target company after the deal announcement, before the acquisition is completed, betting that the price will rise. This may involve short selling if they anticipate the merger will not be completed. It requires detailed understanding of both companies and the deal’s terms.
  3. Hedge Fund Strategy: Merger arbitrage is a popular strategy amongst hedge funds due to its potential to generate consistent returns, irrespective of broader market trends, providing a solid hedge against market volatility. However, it requires advanced financial, legal knowledge and a sophisticated risk management strategy.


Merger arbitrage is a significant concept in business/finance because it presents a strategic investment opportunity to capitalize on the price discrepancies of companies involved in a merger or acquisition. This strategy is mainly used by hedge funds and involves buying and selling stocks of two merging companies to generate risk-free profits. When a merger is announced, the stock price of the target company often trades below the price offered by the acquiring company, creating a price gap. Merger arbitrageurs exploit this gap by buying the target company’s stock at a lower price and selling it at a higher price once the merger is completed, thereby earning the spread between the two. Thereby, the concept’s importance lies in its ability to provide arbitrage opportunities and its effects on market efficiency, even as it includes the risks inherent in the merger not being completed.


Merger arbitrage, also known as risk arbitrage, is a subset of event-driven investing or trading strategy, primarily employed by hedge funds, that involves the buying and selling of stocks of companies involved in corporate mergers and acquisitions. The primary purpose of merger arbitrage is to generate profits from the price discrepancies that can occur before and after a merger or acquisition is officially completed. Traders specialize in these risks that grow out of the time-lag between the announcement and the finalization of a deal as they capitalize on the differential between the market price and the value implied by the deal.In merger arbitrage, traders will typically buy the shares of the company being acquired, while simultaneously selling the shares of the acquiring company. This is done with the expectation that the share price of the target company will increase to meet the purchase price offered by the acquirer, while the latter’s stock price may decline as it takes on the new acquisition. This spread between their respective prices before the merger is completed forms the arbitrage opportunity. It’s important to note that while this strategy can yield substantial returns, it does involve considerable risk should the merger or acquisition fail to complete.


1. SiriusXM and Pandora Media: In 2019, Sirius XM Holdings, a satellite radio company completed its acquisition of Pandora Media, an internet radio company. Merger arbitrageurs were closely watching the deal. They bought shares of Pandora and simultaneously shorted SiriusXM stocks as there was a potential profit when the deal concludes.2. Disney and 21st Century Fox: When Disney announced their plans to purchase 21st Century Fox in December 2017, merger arbitrageurs took a significant interest. Traders bought up shares of Fox, betting that the deal would go through and earning profit from the gap between the market price and the purchase price offered by Disney.3. AT&T and Time Warner: In 2016, AT&T announced it would acquire Time Warner. However, the deal was not immediately approved due to antitrust concerns. Merger arbitrageurs played the odds and invested in stocks of Time Warner, anticipating a profitable spread once the merger was approved in 2018.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Merger Arbitrage?

Merger Arbitrage is an investment strategy that aims to capitalize on the price discrepancies of merging companies’ stocks. When a merger is announced, arbitrageurs buy the stocks of the target company, which are often priced lower than the acquisition price, and short sell the stocks of the acquiring company.

Who typically employs Merger Arbitrage strategies?

Merger Arbitrage is commonly used by hedge funds and specialist investment funds. Some individual and institutional investors with a high tolerance for risk may also employ this strategy.

What factors influence the success of Merger Arbitrage?

Factors such as the time it takes to complete the merger, any regulatory approvals needed, market volatility, and the risk of a merger not closing can all influence the profitability of a Merger Arbitrage strategy.

Is Merger Arbitrage risk free?

No. While Merger Arbitrage can offer significant profit opportunities, it comes with various risks. The primary risk is that the merger does not close and the stock price of the target company plummets. Other risks can come from market volatility and fluctuations in exchange rates (for international mergers).

What is the role of a Merger Arbitrageur in a merger deal?

The Arbitrageur’s role is not to help the merger process, but to profit from discrepancies in company stock prices during the merger process. These specialists assess the risks associated with a merger and make investment decisions accordingly.

How does Merger Arbitrage affect the overall market?

Merger Arbitrage activity can lead to efficient market pricing as it helps to narrow the price discrepancy between the target and acquiring company’s stocks. However, heavy speculation around a merger can also lead to price volatility.

What makes a merger deal attractive for Merger Arbitrage?

Merger deals where there’s a significant price difference between the target company’s current stock price and the proposed acquisition price, are particularly attractive for Merger Arbitrage. Additionally, mergers that are expected to close quickly and smoothly, without significant regulatory hurdles, are more favorable.

Can Merger Arbitrage be used in all types of mergers?

Merger arbitrage can be applied to all types of mergers, including friendly and hostile mergers, leveraged buyouts, and cross-border mergers. However, the risks and potential returns vary depending on the specific characteristics of each merger deal.

Related Finance Terms

  • Acquisition
  • Spread
  • Hedge Funds
  • Takeover Bid
  • Risk Arbitrage

Sources for More Information

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