The Gloves Come Off For Europe's Mega Mergers

Diplomacy is dead as mergers in Europe reach a fever pitch. In France, Banque Nationale de Paris SA (BNP) has made a hostile $38 billion bid for the investment bank Paribas SA and retail bank Societe Generale SA, which had been in the process of merging. If successful, BNP would become the world's biggest bank with $1 trillion in assets. This takeover attempt follows a recent bid for Telecom Italia SpA by the much smaller computer firm Olivetti SpA and, in luxury consumer goods, the bid for the Gucci Group NV by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA. These raids contrast with Europe's tradition of approaching merger opportunities on a consensual basis.

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