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A conglomerate is a multi-industry company – i.e., a combination of multiple business entities operating in entirely different industries under one corporate group, usually involving a parent company and many subsidiaries. Conglomerates are often large and multinational.
Often labelled a trading company (i.e. a company of merchants who buy and sell goods produced by other people) or sometimes a shipping company, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) was in fact a proto-conglomerate at the dawn of modern capitalism, diversifying into multiple commercial and industrial activities such as international trade (especially intra-Asian trade),shipbuilding, and both production and trade of East Indian spices, Indonesian coffee, Formosan sugarcane, and South African wine.
During the 1960s, the United States was caught up in a "conglomerate fad" which turned out to be a form of speculative mania.
Due to a combination of low interest rates and a repeating bear-bull market, conglomerates were able to buy smaller companies in leveraged buyouts (sometimes at temporarily deflated values).Famous examples from the 1960s include Ling-Temco-Vought, ITT Corporation, Litton Industries, Textron, and Teledyne. The trick was to look for acquisition targets with solid earnings and much lower price–earnings ratios than the acquirer. The conglomerate would make a tender offer to the target's shareholders at a princely premium to the target's current stock price. Upon obtaining shareholder approval, the conglomerate usually settled the transaction in something other than cash, like debentures, bonds, warrants or convertible debentures (issuing the latter two would effectively dilute its own shareholders down the road, but many shareholders at the time were not thinking that far ahead). The conglomerate would then add the target's earnings to its own earnings, thereby increasing the conglomerate's overall earnings per share. In finance jargon, the transaction was "accretive to earnings." The relatively lax accounting standards of the time meant that accountants were often able to get away with creative mathematics in calculating the conglomerate's post-acquisition consolidated earnings numbers. In turn, the price of the conglomerate's own stock would go up, thereby re-establishing its previous price-earnings ratio, and then it could repeat the whole process again with a new target. In plain English, conglomerates were using rapid acquisitions to create the illusion of rapid growth.
In 1968, the peak year of the conglomerate fad, U.S. corporations completed a record number of mergers: approximately 4,500.In that year, at least 26 of the country's 500 largest corporations were acquired, of which 12 had assets in excess of $250 million.
All this clever financial engineering had very real consequences for people who worked for companies that were either acquired by conglomerates or were seen as likely to be acquired by them. Acquisitions were a disorienting and demoralizing experience for executives at acquired companies—those who were not immediately laid off found themselves at the mercy of the conglomerate's executives in some other distant city.Most conglomerates' headquarters were located on the West Coast or East Coast, while many of their acquisitions were located in the country's interior. Many interior cities were devastated by repeatedly losing headquarters of corporations to mergers, in which independent ventures were reduced to subsidiaries of conglomerates based in New York or Los Angeles. Pittsburgh, for example, lost about a dozen. The terror instilled by the mere prospect of such harsh consequences for executives and their home cities meant that fending off takeovers, real or imagined, was a constant distraction for executives at all corporations seen as choice acquisition targets during this era.
The chain reaction of rapid-growth-through-acquisitions could not last forever. When interest rates rose to offset rising inflation, conglomerate profits began to fall. The beginning of the end came in January 1968, when Litton shocked Wall Street by announcing a quarterly profit of only 21 cents per share, versus 63 cents for the previous year's quarter.It would take two more years before it was clear that the conglomerate fad was on its way out. The stock market eventually figured out that the conglomerates' bloated and inefficient businesses were as cyclical as any others—indeed, it was that cyclical nature that had caused such businesses to be such undervalued acquisition targets in the first place —and their descent "put the lie to the claim that diversification allowed them to ride out a downturn." A major selloff of conglomerate shares ensued. To keep going, many conglomerates were forced to shed the new businesses they had recently purchased, and by the mid-1970s most conglomerates had been reduced to shells. The conglomerate fad was subsequently replaced by newer ideas like focusing on a company's core competency.
In other cases, conglomerates are formed for genuine interests of diversification rather than manipulation of paper return on investment. Companies with this orientation would only make acquisitions or start new branches in other sectors when they believed this would increase profitability or stability by sharing risks. Flush with cash during the 1980s, General Electric also moved into financing and financial services, which in 2005 accounted for about 45% of the company's net earnings. GE formerly owned a minority interest in NBCUniversal, which owns the NBC television network and several other cable networks. In some ways GE is the opposite of the "typical" 1960s conglomerate in that the company was not highly leveraged, and when interest rates rose GE was able to turn this to its advantage. It was often less expensive to lease from GE than buy new equipment using loans. United Technologies was also a successful conglomerate until they were dismantled in the late 2010s.
With the spread of mutual funds (especially index funds since 1976), investors could more easily obtain diversification by owning a small slice of many companies in a fund rather than owning shares in a conglomerate. Another example of a successful conglomerate is Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, a holding company which used surplus capital from its insurance subsidiaries to invest in businesses across a variety of industries.
The end of the First World War caused a brief economic crisis in Weimar Germany, permitting entrepreneurs to buy businesses at rock-bottom prices. The most successful, Hugo Stinnes, established the most powerful private economic conglomerate in 1920s Europe – Stinnes Enterprises – which embraced sectors as diverse as manufacturing, mining, shipbuilding, hotels, newspapers, and other enterprises.
The best known British conglomerate was Hanson plc. It followed a rather different timescale than the U.S. examples mentioned above, as it was founded in 1964 and ceased to be a conglomerate when it split itself into four separate listed companies between 1995 and 1997.
In Hong Kong, some of the well-known conglomerates include Jardine Matheson (AD1824), Swire Group (AD1816), (British companies, one Scottish one English; companies that have a history of over 150 years and have business interests that span across four continents with a focus in Asia.) C K Hutchison Whampoa (now CK Hutchison Holdings), Sino Group, (both Asian-owned companies specialize business such as real estate and hospitality with a focus in Asia.)
In Japan, a different model of conglomerate, the keiretsu , evolved. Whereas the Western model of conglomerate consists of a single corporation with multiple subsidiaries controlled by that corporation, the companies in a keiretsu are linked by interlocking shareholdings and a central role of a bank. Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo are some of Japan's best known keiretsu, reaching from automobile manufacturing to the production of electronics such as televisions. While not a keiretsu, Sony is an example of a modern Japanese conglomerate with operations in consumer electronics, video games, the music industry, television and film production and distribution, financial services, and telecommunications.
In China, many of the country's conglomerates are state-owned enterprises, but there is a substantial number of private conglomerates. Notable conglomerates include BYD, CIMC, China Merchants Bank, Huawei, JXD, Meizu, Ping An Insurance, TCL, Tencent, TP-Link, ZTE, Legend Holdings, Dalian Wanda Group, China Poly Group, Beijing Enterprises, and Fosun International. Fosun is currently China's largest civilian-run conglomerate by revenue.
In South Korea, the chaebol are a type of conglomerate owned and operated by a family. A chaebol is also inheritable, as most of current presidents of chaebols succeeded their fathers or grandfathers. Some of the largest and most well-known Korean chaebols are Samsung, LG, Hyundai Kia and SK.
The era of Licence Raj (1947–1990) in India created some of Asia's largest conglomerates, such as the Tata Group, Kirloskar Group, Larsen & Toubro, Mahindra Group, Sahara India, ITC Limited, Essar Group, Reliance ADA Group, Reliance Industries, Aditya Birla Group and the Bharti Enterprises.
In Brazil the most important conglomerates are J&F Investimentos, Odebrecht, Itaúsa, Camargo Corrêa, Votorantim Group, Andrade Gutierrez, and Queiroz Galvão.
In New Zealand, Fletcher Challenge was formed in 1981 from the merger of Fletcher Holdings, Challenge Corporation, and Tasman Pulp & Paper, in an attempt to create a New Zealand-based multi-national company. At the time, the newly merged company dealt in construction, building supplies, pulp and paper mills, forestry, and oil & gas. Following a series of bungled investments, the company demerged in the early 2000s to concentrate on building and construction.
In the Philippines, the largest conglomerate of the country is the Ayala Corporation which focuses on malls, bank, real estate development, and telecommunications. The other big conglomerates in the Philippines included JG Summit Holdings, Lopez Group of Companies, SM Investments Corporation, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation and San Miguel Corporation.
In United States, some of the examples are The Walt Disney Company, WarnerMedia and The Trump Organization (see below).
In Canada, one of the examples is Hudson's Bay Company.
This section contains a pro and con list , which is sometimes inappropriate. (March 2017)
Some cite the decreased cost of conglomerate stock (a phenomenon known as conglomerate discount) as evidential of these disadvantages, while other traders believe this tendency to be a market inefficiency, which undervalues the true strength of these stocks.
In her 1999 book No Logo , Naomi Klein provides several examples of mergers and acquisitions between media companies designed to create conglomerates for the purposes of creating synergy between them:
A relatively new development, Internet conglomerates, such as Alphabet, Google's parent company [ citation needed ]belong to the modern media conglomerate group and play a major role within various industries, such as brand management. In most cases Internet conglomerates consist of corporations who own several medium-sized online or hybrid online-offline projects. In many cases, newly joined corporations get higher returns on investment, access to business contacts, and better rates on loans from various banks.
Similar to other industries there are many companies that can be termed as conglomerates.
The Netherlands United East Indies Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or VOC), founded in 1602, was the world's first multinational, joint-stock, limited liability corporation – as well as its first government-backed trading cartel. Our own East India Company, founded in 1600, remained a coffee-house clique until 1657, when it, too, began selling shares, not in individual voyages, but in the Company itself, by which time its Dutch rival was by far the biggest commercial enterprise the world had known.
[...] In 1602, the Dutch East India Company was formed. It was a new type of institution: the first multinational company, and the first to issue public stock. These innovations allowed a single company to mobilize financial resources from a large number of investors and create ventures at a scale that had previously only been possible for monarchs.
|Look up conglomerate in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
A keiretsu is a set of companies with interlocking business relationships and shareholdings. In the legal sense, it is a type of informal business group that are loosely organized alliances within the social world of Japan's business community. The keiretsu maintained dominance over the Japanese economy for the second half of the 20th century, and, to a lesser extent, continues to do so in the early 21st century.
A holding company is a company that owns the outstanding stock of other companies. A holding company usually does not produce goods or services itself. Its purpose is to own shares of other companies to form a corporate group.
Hyundai Group was a South Korean conglomerate founded by Chung Ju-yung. The first company in the group was founded in 1947 as a construction company. With government assistance, Chung and his family members rapidly expanded into various industries, eventually becoming South Korea's second Enterprise Group. The company spun off many of its better known businesses after the 1997 Asian financial crisis, including Hyundai Motor Group, Hyundai Department Store Group, and Hyundai Heavy Industries Group. Chung Ju-yung was directly in control of the company until his death in 2001.
Zaibatsu is a Japanese term referring to industrial and financial vertically integrated business conglomerates in the Empire of Japan, whose influence and size allowed control over significant parts of the Japanese economy from the Meiji period until the end of World War II. A zaibatsu's general structure included a family owned holding company on top, and a bank which financed the other, mostly industrial subsidiaries within them. Although the zaibatsu played an important role in the Japanese economy from the 1860s to 1945, they increased in number and importance following the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, World War I and Japan's subsequent attempt to conquer East Asia during the inter-war period and World War II. After World War II they were dissolved by the Allied occupation forces and succeeded by the keiretsu.
Mitsui Group is one of the largest keiretsu in Japan and one of the largest corporate groups in the world.
Daewoo also known as the Daewoo Group, was a major South Korean chaebol and car manufacturer.
Itochu Corporation is a Japanese corporation based in Umeda, Kita-ku, Osaka and Aoyama, Minato, Tokyo.
A chaebol is a large industrial conglomerate that is run and controlled by an owner or family in South Korea. A chaebol often consists of many diversified affiliates, controlled by an owner whose power over the group often exceeds legal authority. The first known use in an English text was in 1972. Several dozen large South Korean family-controlled corporate groups fall under this definition.
Swire Group is a Hong Kong- and London-based British conglomerate. Many of its core businesses can be found within the Asia Pacific region, where traditionally Swire's operations have centred on Hong Kong and mainland China. Within Asia, Swire's activities come under the group's publicly quoted arm, Swire Pacific Limited. Elsewhere in the world, many businesses are held directly by the parent company, John Swire & Sons Limited, in Australia, Papua New Guinea, East Africa, Sri Lanka, the US and UK. Swire controls a large property empire in Asia – mainly Hong Kong. The current chairman is Barnaby Swire. Taikoo is the Chinese name of Swire. It serves as the brand name for businesses such as Taikoo Sugar and Taikoo Shing.
Mitsubishi Corporation is Japan's largest trading company and a member of the Mitsubishi keiretsu. As of 2020, Mitsubishi Corporation employs over 86,000 people and has ten business segments, including finance, banking, energy, machinery, chemicals, and food.
A media conglomerate, media group, or media institution is a company that owns numerous companies involved in mass media enterprises, such as television, radio, publishing, motion pictures, theme parks, or the Internet. According to the magazine The Nation, "Media conglomerates strive for policies that facilitate their control of the markets around the world."
Megacorporation, mega-corporation, or megacorp, a term popularized by William Gibson, derives from the combination of the prefix mega- with the word corporation. It has become widespread in cyberpunk literature. It refers to a corporation that is a massive conglomerate, holding monopolistic or near-monopolistic control over multiple markets. Megacorps are so powerful that they can ignore the law, possess their own heavily armed private armies, be the operator of a privatized police force, hold "sovereign" territory, and even act as outright governments. They often exercise a large degree of control over their employees, taking the idea of "corporate culture" to an extreme. Such organizations as a staple of science fiction long predate cyberpunk, appearing in the works of writers such as Philip K. Dick, Thea von Harbou, Robert A. Heinlein, Robert Asprin, and Andre Norton. The explicit use of the term in the Traveller science fiction roleplaying game from 1977 predates Gibson's use of it.
A trust or corporate trust is a large grouping of business interests with significant market power, which may be embodied as a corporation or as a group of corporations that cooperate with one another in various ways. These ways can include constituting a trade association, owning stock in one another, constituting a corporate group, or combinations thereof. The term trust is often used in a historical sense to refer to monopolies or near-monopolies in the United States during the Second Industrial Revolution in the 19th century and early 20th century.
A corporate group or group of companies is a collection of parent and subsidiary corporations that function as a single economic entity through a common source of control. The concept of a group is frequently used in tax law, accounting and company law to attribute the rights and duties of one member of the group to another or the whole. If the corporations are engaged in entirely different businesses, the group is called a conglomerate. The forming of corporate groups usually involves consolidation via mergers and acquisitions, although the group concept focuses on the instances in which the merged and acquired corporate entities remain in existence rather than the instances in which they are dissolved by the parent. The group may be owned by a holding company which may have no actual operations.
Network18 Media & Investments Limited, referred to as Network18 Group, is an Indian media conglomerate owned by Reliance Industries. Since a restructuring in 2020, it is now the parent company of TV18, DEN Networks and Hathway Cable and Datacom. Network18 holds 37.3% stake in GTPL Hathway and a majority stake in Hathway Bhawani through its ownership of Hathway. It is also the majority owner of Viacom 18, a joint venture with ViacomCBS.
The first incarnation of Viacom Inc. was an American media conglomerate. It began as CBS Television Film Sales, the syndication division of the CBS television network in 1952; it was renamed CBS Films in 1958, renamed CBS Enterprises in 1968, renamed Viacom in 1970, and spun off into its own company in 1971. Viacom was a distributor of CBS television series throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and also distributed syndicated television programs.
The Companhia União Fabril (CUF) was one of the largest and oldest Portuguese conglomerates from the 1930s to 1974 and later a chemical corporation which was by then a part of Grupo José de Mello founded in 1988. After many acquisitions, mergers and divestitures, from the late 1970s to the 2010s, the company known as CUF and its brand was gradually restructured and morphed into a brand-new hospital in Lisbon. Now the brand cuf, whose major shareholders and founders are heirs of the old CUF conglomerate, is tied to one of the majors healthcare providers of Portugal known as cuf saúde with several hospitals across the country.
A machine tool builder is a corporation or person that builds machine tools, usually for sale to manufacturers, who use them to manufacture products. A machine tool builder runs a machine factory, which is part of the machine industry.
Conglomerate discount is an economic concept describing a situation when the stock market values a diversified group of businesses and assets at less than the sum of its parts. The explanation of this phenomenon comes from a conglomerate's inability to manage various and different businesses as well as do focused companies. Therefore, the market penalizes a multi-division firm and attaches a lower multiple to its earnings and cash flows, thus creating the discount. However, the opposite concept, called conglomerate premium, also exists.