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Masters of the Universe:
Leveraged buyouts, stock swaps, megamergers--behind every spectacular, headline-making deal you've read about in the last two decades, there were real, live people risking their careers to buy companies, or combine them.
Daniel Kadlec, financial columnist for Time magazine, lines up nine of the biggest dealmakers of our era and profiles the most important deal of each man's career. He keeps most of the focus on the transactions themselves, but also tries to attach a human face to business-page staples like Carl Icahn, Hugh McColl, and Sumner Redstone. He succeeds, to an extent; we come away at least with a feeling of what it's like to engage in conversation with these corporate titans. For example, there's a rather chilling encounter with Icahn that helps illustrate why he was such a cold-blooded success as a corporate-takeover artist.
Readers will probably end up liking most of these guys. Hugh McColl, for example, waited until his NationsBank was bigger than Bank of America before he merged the two, even though he could've done the deal several years earlier. He comes off not just as a man with brass between his legs, but also as one with unusual integrity.
But no matter how you feel about these sometimes cutthroat men and the business moves they've made, you can't help but learn from them: how to improve weak bargaining positions, how to invest in out-of-favor industries, how to adapt to changing times--or, if you have the courage and vision, how to change the times to suit you. --Lou Schuler [via]