The 50 Best (and Worst) Business Deals of All Time

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Overview

The 50 Best (and Worst) Business Deals of All Time analyzes how and why these deals became bargains or busts (or both). From the purchase of Manhattan in 1624, to the merger of AOL and Time Warner in 2000, author Michael Craig presents examples illustrating how the outcome of mega-deals can depend on clear thinking and the adherence to simple guidelines.

Here's just a sample of what you'll learn:

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Overview

The 50 Best (and Worst) Business Deals of All Time analyzes how and why these deals became bargains or busts (or both). From the purchase of Manhattan in 1624, to the merger of AOL and Time Warner in 2000, author Michael Craig presents examples illustrating how the outcome of mega-deals can depend on clear thinking and the adherence to simple guidelines.

Here's just a sample of what you'll learn:

  • The U.S. government tried to buy the city of New Orleans from France and ended up with the entire 800,000-square-mile Louisiana Territory.
  • Ray Kroc entered into a ruinous franchise agreement to give birth to McDonald's and how a brilliant real-estate deal saved the business.
  • Warren Buffett bet $1 billion on the strength of Coke's brand name and made $10 billion.
  • Michael Robertson paid $1,000 for the Internet domain name MP3.com and turned it into a nine-figure fortune.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Craig (a class-action lawyer who now writes for ) gives the stories of 50 business deals, good and bad, as part of a narrative on how to be successful. The ten chapters, or rules, advise readers to focus on their strengths, take advantage of the competitor's weakness, find value others haven't noticed, and so on. An 11th chapter lists "another nifty 50," a synopsis of 50 wildly successful money-making deals, evidently included to inspire the reader who hopes for a similar achievement. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From The Critics
With everyone from teenagers to senior citizens playing the stock market from their home computers, it is easy to see that business wheeling and dealing is no longer just for high-powered men in suits working out of glass-and-steel high-rises. As that same stock market peaks and dips like a roller coaster, it's also obvious that there is no such thing as a sure thing. In this book, Craig, a class-action lawyer turned business writer, documents some of the reasons why. With his fifty best and worst deals (and he throws in an extra fifty at the end of the book), the author shares his thoughts on his ten sure-fire rules of business. Each of these deals, some great successes, some dismal failures, illustrates one or more of the "best ways to conduct business transactions." Craig's ten rules include directives such as: focusing on your strengths, taking advantage of your adversary's weakness, finding value where others don't see it, being a pest, doing your homework, and avoiding negotiating with your betters. Simple rules that are hard to argue with, but are often disregarded by even the best and brightest. The deals themselves are then arranged chronologically under the rule the dealmakers either heeded or failed to heed, and cover the full gamut of industries and personalities. From the United States purchase of New Orleans from France, which resulted in the acquisition of the entire Louisiana Territory, to Priscilla Presley's deft handling of her ex-husband's beleaguered estate, the book gives a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes in boardrooms past and present. More common business names, such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, are also well represented. The book spans the purchaseof Manhattan in 1624 to the merger of AOL and Time Warner in 2000, so if the deal was extraordinary in some way, it is probably represented here. Because of the sheer number of deals made throughout time, undoubtedly some would argue this book cannot possibly be exhaustive. That is true, however, of any "top xx" list or "best of" list: it is impossible to please everyone. It is also true that the deals themselves are simply summarized; these are not exhaustive, business-school case studies. By categorizing the deals by his rules, and pointing out what made each deal a success or failure, Craig has a logical framework in which to work, and succeeds in presenting a fascinating snapshot of behind-the-scenes deal-making. For business school aspirants to boardroom wannabes, this book should prove inspiring.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781564144775
  • Publisher: Career Pr Inc
  • Publication date: 10/28/2000
  • Pages: 203
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.16 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Read an Excerpt

With everyone from teenagers to senior citizens playing the stock market from their home computers, it is easy to see that business wheeling and dealing is no longer just for high-powered men in suits working out of glass-and-steel high-rises. As that same stock market peaks and dips like a roller coaster, it's also obvious that there is no such thing as a sure thing. In this book, Craig, a class-action lawyer turned business writer, documents some of the reasons why. With his fifty best and worst deals (and he throws in an extra fifty at the end of the book), the author shares his thoughts on his ten sure-fire rules of business. Each of these deals, some great successes, some dismal failures, illustrates one or more of the "best ways to conduct business transactions."

Craig's ten rules include directives such as: focusing on your strengths, taking advantage of your adversary's weakness, finding value where others don't see it, being a pest, doing your homework, and avoiding negotiating with your betters. Simple rules that are hard to argue with, but are often disregarded by even the best and brightest. The deals themselves are then arranged chronologically under the rule the dealmakers either heeded or failed to heed, and cover the full gamut of industries and personalities. From the United States purchase of New Orleans from France, which resulted in the acquisition of the entire Louisiana Territory, to Priscilla Presley's deft handling of her ex-husband's beleaguered estate, the book gives a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes in boardrooms past and present. More common business names, such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, are also well represented. The book spans the purchase of Manhattan in 1624 to the merger of AOL and Time Warner in 2000, so if the deal was extraordinary in some way, it is probably represented here.

Because of the sheer number of deals made throughout time, undoubtedly some would argue this book cannot possibly be exhaustive. That is true, however, of any "top xx" list or "best of" list: it is impossible to please everyone. It is also true that the deals themselves are simply summarized; these are not exhaustive, business-school case studies. By categorizing the deals by his rules, and pointing out what made each deal a success or failure, Craig has a logical framework in which to work, and succeeds in presenting a fascinating snapshot of behind-the-scenes deal-making. For business school aspirants to boardroom wannabes, this book should prove inspiring.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction 9
Chapter 1 Rule 1: Focus on your strengths 13
LTV's acquisition of Jones & Laughlin Steel 16
Priscilla Presley's control of the Elvis Presley Estate 18
IBM's acquisition of Rolm 22
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.'s acquisition of Beatrice 24
Management LBO of Revco 27
Nelson Peltz and Peter May's sale of Triangle to Pechiney 30
AT&T's takeover of NCR 32
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.'s restructuring of Flagstar 34
Novell's acquisition of WordPerfect 36
Chapter 2 Rule 2: Take advantage of your adversary's weakness 39
The Louisiana Purchase 42
J.P. Morgan's purchase of Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad stock 44
The Boston Red Sox's sale of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees 46
Pierre du Pont's buyout of William Durant's General Motors stock 49
John Kluge's buyout and bust-up of Metromedia 51
Peter Diamandis' acquisition of CBS Magazines 53
Chapter 3 Rule 3: Find value where others don't see it 57
The purchase of Alaska 59
Sir James Goldsmith's acquisition of Diamond International 60
Ronald Perelman's acquisition of Technicolor, Inc. 62
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.'s acquisition of Safeway 64
Hanson Trust's acquisition of SCM Corp. 67
Berkshire Hathaway's purchase of Coca-Cola stock 69
Chapter 4 Rule 4: Don't get caught up in the wanting 73
Robert Campeau's acquisition of Federated Department Stores 75
William Farley's acquisition of West Point Pepperell 78
Gibbons Green van Amerongen's LBO of Ohio Mattress 80
Quaker Oats' acquisition of Snapple Beverage Co. 82
Seagram's sale of DuPont stock to acquire MCA 84
Chapter 5 Rule 5: Innovate 89
The purchase of Manhattan from the Canarsee Indians 91
Ray Kroc's agreement to franchise McDonald's 93
The merger of the Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central 95
Wesray's LBO of Gibson Greetings 98
Wesray's LBO of Avis 100
Chapter 6 Rule 6: Take care of the little people 103
Gordon Cain's acquisition of Cain Chemical 105
The Reichmanns' attempt to build Canary Wharf 107
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.'s acquisition of Duracell 110
Wesray's sale of Simmons Mattress Co. to an ESOP 113
Chapter 7 Rule 7: Be a pest 117
The ABA's financial settlement with the Spirits of St. Louis 119
T. Boone Pickens' "unsuccessful" takeover attempt of Gulf Oil 121
Conseco's acquisition of Green Tree Financial 123
Chapter 8 Rule 8: Do your homework 127
Sony's acquisition of Columbia Pictures 128
Minoru Isutani's purchase of Pebble Beach 131
The merger of HFS and CUC International into Cendant 133
Chapter 9 Rule 9: Predict the future and seize it 137
Microsoft's purchase and license of DOS to IBM 138
GE Capital's acquisition of Montgomery Ward 141
Michael Robertson's purchase of the domain name MP3.com 144
Sabheer Bhatia's and Jack Smith's sale of Hotmail to Microsoft 146
Chapter 10 Rule 10: Don't negotiate with your betters 151
Ronald Reagan's negotiation of residuals for the Screen Actors Guild 153
Merv Griffin's acquisition of Resorts International 155
Ronald Perelman's acquisition of 5 failed S&Ls from the FSLIC 159
Leon Black's purchase of Executive Life Insurance Co.'s junk-bond portfolio 162
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.'s acquisition of American Re 165
Chapter 11 Another nifty 50 167
Afterword 187
Bibliography 191
Glossary 195
Index 199
About the Author 204
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2000

    This book makes the world of big business seem very interesting

    I really enjoyed how the author takes these big business deals and explains exactly WHAT happened and who won and lost. I also appreciated that a lot of things I wouldn't have thought of as big business deals - the Louisiana Purchase, Graceland, Babe Ruth - get treated as business deals. It's a novel way to view those events. Even if you are pretty new to following the business news, you should find this book interesting and fun. G.H.

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