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Yellow Knight


A Yellow Knight is a term used in the finance world to describe a company that initially pursues a hostile takeover of another company but later changes its approach to a friendly merger or acquisition. This change can occur due to various reasons, such as improved negotiation terms, resistance from the target company, or other strategic considerations. Essentially, a Yellow Knight transitions from an aggressive bidder to a more cooperative participant in the acquisition process.


The phonetics of the keyword “Yellow Knight” using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) would be: /ˈjɛloʊ ˈnaɪt/

Key Takeaways

  1. Yellow Knight is a term used to describe a company or individual that emerges as a white knight during a hostile takeover attempt, but later turns hostile themselves.
  2. Yellow Knights usually start by offering support to the target company in fending off the hostile acquirer, but may turn around and launch their own bid to acquire the target company after evaluating its strategic value and potential benefits.
  3. This sudden change in stance can create a complex situation for the target company, as it has to deal with multiple bidders and faces uncertainty around the future management and direction of the company.


The term Yellow Knight is important in the business/finance world as it refers to a company that initially expresses interest in pursuing a hostile takeover of another company, but later decides to propose a friendlier merger or strategic alliance instead. This change of approach may result from a shift in market conditions, discovery of hidden issues within the target company, or a better understanding of potential synergy benefits. Yellow Knights can serve as catalysts for fruitful negotiations and mutually beneficial corporate relationships, potentially leading to more stable and valuable outcomes for both parties than an outright hostile takeover attempt.


A Yellow Knight is a term used in the world of finance and business, particularly in the context of mergers and acquisitions (M&A), to describe a company that initially pursues a hostile takeover of another company, but later switches its strategy to a more collaborative and friendly approach. This change of course might be spurred by the target company demonstrating a strong resistance to the hostile bid or the possibility of improved negotiation terms that would be beneficial to both parties. The purpose of the Yellow Knight’s transformation is often an attempt to find mutually advantageous outcomes, rather than engaging in a prolonged and costly takeover battle. As such, the Yellow Knight plays an essential role in shaping the landscape of corporate mergers by facilitating dialogue and compromise between the acquiring and target companies. By shifting from an aggressive strategy to a more cooperative stance, the Yellow Knight opens up opportunities for beneficial partnerships and collaborations that would not have been possible otherwise. It serves to make the acquisition process smoother and less contentious, thereby helping to maintain a more stable and amicable business environment. In doing so, the Yellow Knight’s revised approach can ultimately benefit both the acquiring company and the target by fostering growth, synergies and long-term success, rather than causing potential damage through a hostile takeover.


A Yellow Knight is a term used to describe a company that shows interest in a hostile takeover of another company but eventually ends up backing out, proposing a merger, or collaborating with the target company. Here are three real-world examples: 1. Microsoft-Yahoo, 2008: Microsoft had proposed a hostile takeover of Yahoo in February 2008 with a bid of $44.6 billion. After facing resistance from Yahoo’s board of directors and negative response from some key shareholders, Microsoft backed off from the hostile takeover. Later on, both companies entered into a mutually beneficial search alliance, with Microsoft’s Bing becoming the primary search provider for Yahoo. 2. British American Tobacco (BAT)-Rothmans, 1996: In 1996, BAT attempted a hostile takeover of Rothmans, but it was not successful. However, in 1999, BAT announced a friendly merger with Rothmans, marking a significant milestone in the tobacco industry’s consolidation. 3. Berge Gerdt Larsen and Dolphin Drilling Ltd., 1988: Norwegian industrialist Berge Gerdt Larsen planned a hostile takeover of Dolphin Drilling Ltd., a UK-based oil drilling contractor. After encountering opposition from Dolphin Drilling’s board and shareholders, Larsen abandoned the hostile takeover attempt. Instead, the two companies announced a friendly collaboration agreement in 1989, allowing for a peaceful resolution.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Yellow Knight?
A Yellow Knight refers to a company that initially attempts a hostile takeover of another company, but later changes its approach to a more cooperative and friendly merger or acquisition.
What is the origin of the term “Yellow Knight”?
The term is derived from the game of chess where knights are used to attack opponents’ pieces. In the context of finance and business, when a company backs down from a hostile approach and pursues a friendlier strategy, it is said to have turned “yellow” or displayed cowardice.
What causes a Yellow Knight to change its approach?
A Yellow Knight may change its approach due to various reasons, such as a better mutual agreement, resistance from the target company, increased costs of pursuing the hostile takeover, or intervention from regulatory bodies.
How does a Yellow Knight differ from a White Knight?
A Yellow Knight initially pursues a hostile takeover but changes its approach, whereas a White Knight is a friendly suitor invited by the target company to counter a hostile takeover bid made by another company (also called a Black Knight).
Can a Yellow Knight be beneficial for the target company?
Yes, a Yellow Knight can ultimately be beneficial for the target company as it might result in more favorable terms of the merger or acquisition, and better protection of employees, shareholders, and the company’s long-term vision compared to a hostile takeover.
What is an example of a Yellow Knight situation?
One example is when Pfizer attempted a hostile takeover of AstraZeneca in 2014. An initial hostile approach turned friendlier, as Pfizer requested a merger that would create a combined company. However, the deal did not go through as AstraZeneca’s board rejected the bid.
How can a company defend itself against a Yellow Knight?
Companies can use similar defense strategies as those against a hostile takeover, such as a poison pill, a golden parachute, or working with regulatory bodies. Additionally, the target company can choose to engage in negotiations with the Yellow Knight to ensure the best outcome for both parties.

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