Mergers and Acquisitions

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Posted by motoman 03/11/2009 @ 09:07

Tags : mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, investors, finance

News headlines
Barclays May Hire Up to 65 Bankers for European M&A - Bloomberg
Barclays Capital, the investment-banking unit, plans to add 30 to 40 bankers in Italy, Germany and France, and 15 to 25 in the UK, Paul G. Parker, global head of mergers and acquisitions, said in an interview on May 21 in New York....
Deals of the day -- mergers and acquisitions - Reuters
May 25 (Reuters) - The following bids, mergers, acquisitions and disposals involving European, US and Asian companies were reported by 0400 GMT on Monday. ** Asia's largest oil and gas producer PetroChina (0857.HK) is buying Keppel Corp's (KPLM....
Top 10 largest M&A deals - Wall-Street
The global merger and acquisition market hit its five-year low, despite the peak reached in the best day for M&A in 2009. The total value of mergers and acquisitions stood at 113.4 billion dollars, the lowest level since September 2004, Thomson Reuters...
STREET MOVES: Duo Tapped To Lead Barclays' Euro M&A Unit - CNNMoney.com
Barclays PLC (BCS) named Matthew Ponsonby and Mark Warham as co-heads of its European mergers and acquisitions unit at Barclays Capital, its investment- banking division. They will be based in London and will report to Paul Parker , head of global M& A...
IT mid-market M&A space may see activity soon - Hindu Business Line
Bangalore, May 24 Deal makers see a spurt in the IT sector mid-tier M&A (mergers and acquisitions) over the next two to three quarters tracking an anticipated recovery in the global economy. The prevailing economic crisis, which impacted valuations...
FASB Releases Standard for Nonprofit M&A - WebCPA
By WebCPA Staff The Financial Accounting Standards Board has issued rules to help nonprofit organizations properly account for mergers and acquisitions involving other not-for-profits. FASB Statement No. 164, “Not-for-Profit Entities: Mergers and...
Optimism will breathe new life into M&A market - Personal Computer World
Among corporate financiers, there is a hope that the equity market's optimism is bleeding through to mergers and acquisitions activity. There have been a number of mega-deals this year, principally in the pharmaceutical sector: in March,...
BofA Selects Two to Succeed Chief of M&A in Asia - Wall Street Journal
By AMY OR HONG KONG -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch has promoted two bank veterans to head its mergers and acquisitions division in the Asia-Pacific region after it lost one of its most senior female investment bankers. The US investment bank named...
Danone Sets EUR3B Capital Hike, Reiterates '09 Targets - Wall Street Journal
Meantime, Faber said Danone will continue to seek mergers and acquisitions in eastern Europe and Asia. He wasn't more specific, but he did say that the company isn't looking to sell any assets to raise funds due to the weakness of asset values in the...
Corning expanding M&A team to do deals - Reuters
Corning is also expanding its mergers-and-acquisitions team as part of its increased focus on dealmaking, Flaws said. Currently, the company has six people in its M&A team and wants to hire "a couple more," Flaws said. The company has about $2.9...

Mergers and acquisitions

The phrase mergers and acquisitions (abbreviated M&A) refers to the aspect of corporate strategy, corporate finance and management dealing with the buying, selling and combining of different companies that can aid, finance, or help a growing company in a given industry grow rapidly without having to create another business entity.

An acquisition, also known as a takeover, is the buying of one company (the ‘target’) by another. An acquisition may be friendly or hostile. In the former case, the companies cooperate in negotiations; in the latter case, the takeover target is unwilling to be bought or the target's board has no prior knowledge of the offer. Acquisition usually refers to a purchase of a smaller firm by a larger one. Sometimes, however, a smaller firm will acquire management control of a larger or longer established company and keep its name for the combined entity. This is known as a reverse takeover. Another type of acquisition is reverse merger, a deal that enables a private company to get publicly listed in a short time period. A reverse merger occurs when a private company that has strong prospects and is eager to raise financing buys a publicly listed shell company,usually one with no business and limited assets. Achieving acquisition success has proven to be very difficult, while various studies have showed that 50% of acquisitions were unsuccessful. The acquisition process is very complex, with many dimensions influencing its outcome. This model provides a good overview of all dimensions of the acquisition process.

The terms "demerger", "spin-off" and "spin-out" are sometimes used to indicate a situation where one company splits into two, generating a second company separately listed on a stock exchange. Merger Incentives Some acquisition take place because manager embark on the cereation of a vast empire over which they can preside.

In business or economics a merger is a combination of two companies into one larger company. Such actions are commonly voluntary and involve stock swap or cash payment to the target. Stock swap is often used as it allows the shareholders of the two companies to share the risk involved in the deal. A merger can resemble a takeover but result in a new company name (often combining the names of the original companies) and in new branding; in some cases, terming the combination a "merger" rather than an acquisition is done purely for political or marketing reasons.

A unique type of merger called a reverse merger is used as a way of going public without the expense and time required by an IPO.

The contract vehicle for achieving a merger is a "merger sub".

The occurrence of a merger often raises concerns in antitrust circles. Devices such as the Herfindahl index can analyze the impact of a merger on a market and what, if any, action could prevent it. Regulatory bodies such as the European Commission, the United States Department of Justice and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission may investigate anti-trust cases for monopolies dangers, and have the power to block mergers.

Accretive mergers are those in which an acquiring company's earnings per share (EPS) increase. An alternative way of calculating this is if a company with a high price to earnings ratio (P/E) acquires one with a low P/E.

Dilutive mergers are the opposite of above, whereby a company's EPS decreases. The company will be one with a low P/E acquiring one with a high P/E.

The completion of a merger does not ensure the success of the resulting organization; indeed, many mergers (in some industries, the majority) result in a net loss of value due to problems. Correcting problems caused by incompatibility—whether of technology, equipment, or corporate culture— diverts resources away from new investment, and these problems may be exacerbated by inadequate research or by concealment of losses or liabilities by one of the partners. Overlapping subsidiaries or redundant staff may be allowed to continue, creating inefficiency, and conversely the new management may cut too many operations or personnel, losing expertise and disrupting employee culture. These problems are similar to those encountered in takeovers. For the merger not to be considered a failure, it must increase shareholder value faster than if the companies were separate, or prevent the deterioration of shareholder value more than if the companies were separate.

Although they are often uttered in the same breath and used as though they were synonymous, the terms merger and acquisition mean slightly different things.

When one company takes over another and clearly established itself as the new owner, the purchase is called an acquisition. From a legal point of view, the target company ceases to exist, the buyer "swallows" the business and the buyer's stock continues to be traded.

In the pure sense of the term, a merger happens when two firms, often of about the same size, agree to go forward as a single new company rather than remain separately owned and operated. This kind of action is more precisely referred to as a "merger of equals". Both companies' stocks are surrendered and new company stock is issued in its place. For example, both Daimler-Benz and Chrysler ceased to exist when the two firms merged, and a new company, DaimlerChrysler, was created.

In practice, however, actual mergers of equals don't happen very often. Usually, one company will buy another and, as part of the deal's terms, simply allow the acquired firm to proclaim that the action is a merger of equals, even if it is technically an acquisition. Being bought out often carries negative connotations, therefore, by describing the deal euphemistically as a merger, deal makers and top managers try to make the takeover more palatable.

A purchase deal will also be called a merger when both CEOs agree that joining together is in the best interest of both of their companies. But when the deal is unfriendly - that is, when the target company does not want to be purchased - it is always regarded as an acquisition.

Whether a purchase is considered a merger or an acquisition really depends on whether the purchase is friendly or hostile and how it is announced. In other words, the real difference lies in how the purchase is communicated to and received by the target company's board of directors, employees and shareholders. It is quite normal though for M&A deal communications to take place in a so called 'confidentiality bubble' whereby information flows are restricted due to confidentiality agreements (Harwood, 2005).

Professionals who valuate businesses generally do not use just one of these methods but a combination of some of them, as well as possibly others that are not mentioned above, in order to obtain a more accurate value. These values are determined for the most part by looking at a company's balance sheet and/or income statement and withdrawing the appropriate information. The information in the balance sheet or income statement is obtained by one of three accounting measures: a Notice to Reader, a Review Engagement or an Audit.

Accurate business valuation is one of the most important aspects of M&A as valuations like these will have a major impact on the price that a business will be sold for. Most often this information is expressed in a Letter of Opinion of Value (LOV) when the business is being valuated for interest's sake. There are other, more detailed ways of expressing the value of a business. These reports generally get more detailed and expensive as the size of a company increases, however, this is not always the case as there are many complicated industries which require more attention to detail, regardless of size.

Payment by cash. Such transactions are usually termed acquisitions rather than mergers because the shareholders of the target company are removed from the picture and the target comes under the (indirect) control of the bidder's shareholders alone.

A cash deal would make more sense during a downward trend in the interest rates. Another advantage of using cash for an acquisition is that there tends to lesser chances of EPS dilution for the acquiring company. But a caveat in using cash is that it places constraints on the cash flow of the company.

Financing capital may be borrowed from a bank, or raised by an issue of bonds. Alternatively, the acquirer's stock may be offered as consideration. Acquisitions financed through debt are known as leveraged buyouts if they take the target private, and the debt will often be moved down onto the balance sheet of the acquired company.

An acquisition can involve a combination of cash and debt or of cash and stock of the purchasing entity.

Factoring can provide the extra to make a merger or sale work. Hybrid can work as ad e-denit.

Although at present the majority of M&A advice is provided by full-service investment banks, recent years have seen a rise in the prominence of specialist M&A advisers, who only provide M&A advice (and not financing). These companies are sometimes referred to as Transition Companies, assisting businesses often referred to as "companies in transition." To perform these services in the US, an advisor must be a licensed broker dealer, and subject to SEC (FINRA) regulation. More information on M&A advisory firms is provided at corporate advisory.

A study published in the July/August 2008 issue of the Journal of Business Strategy suggests that mergers and acquisitions destroy leadership continuity in target companies’ top management teams for at least a decade following a deal. The study found that target companies lose 21 percent of their executives each year for at least 10 years following an acquisition – more than double the turnover experienced in non-merged firms.

In many states, no marketplace currently exists for the mergers and acquisitions of privately owned small to mid-sized companies. Market participants often wish to maintain a level of secrecy about their efforts to buy or sell such companies. Their concern for secrecy usually arises from the possible negative reactions a company's employees, bankers, suppliers, customers and others might have if the effort or interest to seek a transaction were to become known. This need for secrecy has thus far thwarted the emergence of a public forum or marketplace to serve as a clearinghouse for this large volume of business. In some states, a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) of small businesses for sale is maintained by organizations such as Business Brokers of Florida (BBF). Another MLS is maintained by International Business Brokers Association (IBBA).

At present, the process by which a company is bought or sold can prove difficult, slow and expensive. A transaction typically requires six to nine months and involves many steps. Locating parties with whom to conduct a transaction forms one step in the overall process and perhaps the most difficult one. Qualified and interested buyers of multimillion dollar corporations are hard to find. Even more difficulties attend bringing a number of potential buyers forward simultaneously during negotiations. Potential acquirers in an industry simply cannot effectively "monitor" the economy at large for acquisition opportunities even though some may fit well within their company's operations or plans.

An industry of professional "middlemen" (known variously as intermediaries, business brokers, and investment bankers) exists to facilitate M&A transactions. These professionals do not provide their services cheaply and generally resort to previously-established personal contacts, direct-calling campaigns, and placing advertisements in various media. In servicing their clients they attempt to create a one-time market for a one-time transaction. Stock purchase or merger transactions involve securities and require that these "middlemen" be licensed broker dealers under FINRA (SEC) in order to be compensated as a % of the deal. Generally speaking, an unlicensed middleman may be compensated on an asset purchase without being licensed. Many, but not all, transactions use intermediaries on one or both sides. Despite best intentions, intermediaries can operate inefficiently because of the slow and limiting nature of having to rely heavily on telephone communications. Many phone calls fail to contact with the intended party. Busy executives tend to be impatient when dealing with sales calls concerning opportunities in which they have no interest. These marketing problems typify any private negotiated markets. Due to these problems and other problems like these, brokers who deal with small to mid-sized companies often deal with much more strenuous conditions than other business brokers. Mid-sized business brokers have an average life-span of only 12-18 months and usually never grow beyond 1 or 2 employees. Exceptions to this are few and far between. Some of these exceptions include The Sundial Group, Geneva Business Services and Robbinex.

The market inefficiencies can prove detrimental for this important sector of the economy. Beyond the intermediaries' high fees, the current process for mergers and acquisitions has the effect of causing private companies to initially sell their shares at a significant discount relative to what the same company might sell for were it already publicly traded. An important and large sector of the entire economy is held back by the difficulty in conducting corporate M&A (and also in raising equity or debt capital). Furthermore, it is likely that since privately held companies are so difficult to sell they are not sold as often as they might or should be.

Previous attempts to streamline the M&A process through computers have failed to succeed on a large scale because they have provided mere "bulletin boards" - static information that advertises one firm's opportunities. Users must still seek other sources for opportunities just as if the bulletin board were not electronic. A multiple listings service concept was previously not used due to the need for confidentiality but there are currently several in operation. The most significant of these are run by the California Association of Business Brokers (CABB) and the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA) These organizations have effectivily created a type of virtual market without compromising the confidentiality of parties involved and without the unauthorized release of information.

One part of the M&A process which can be improved significantly using networked computers is the improved access to "data rooms" during the due diligence process however only for larger transactions. For the purposes of small-medium sized business, these datarooms serve no purpose and are generally not used. Reasons for frequent failure of M&A was analyzed by Thomas Straub in "Reasons for frequent failure in mergers and acquisitions - a comprehensive analysis", DUV Gabler Edition, 2007.

The Great Merger Movement was a predominantly U.S. business phenomenon that happened from 1895 to 1905. During this time, small firms with little market share consolidated with similar firms to form large, powerful institutions that dominated their markets. It is estimated that more than 1,800 of these firms disappeared into consolidations, many of which acquired substantial shares of the markets in which they operated. The vehicle used were so-called trusts. To truly understand how large this movement was—in 1900 the value of firms acquired in mergers was 20% of GDP. In 1990 the value was only 3% and from 1998–2000 is was around 10–11% of GDP. Organizations that commanded the greatest share of the market in 1905 saw that command disintegrate by 1929 as smaller competitors joined forces with each other. However, there were companies that merged during this time such as DuPont, Nabisco, US Steel, and General Electric that have been able to keep their dominance in their respected sectors today due to growing technological advances of their products, patents, and brand recognition by their customers. These companies that merged were consistently mass producers of homogeneous goods that could exploit the efficiencies of large volume production. Companies which had specific fine products, like fine writing paper, earned their profits on high margin rather than volume and took no part in Great Merger Movement.

One of the major short run factors that sparked in The Great Merger Movement was the desire to keep prices high. That is, with many firms in a market, supply of the product remains high. During the panic of 1893, the demand declined. When demand for the good falls, as illustrated by the classic supply and demand model, prices are driven down. To avoid this decline in prices, firms found it profitable to collude and manipulate supply to counter any changes in demand for the good. This type of cooperation led to widespread horizontal integration amongst firms of the era. Focusing on mass production allowed firms to reduce unit costs to a much lower rate. These firms usually were capital-intensive and had high fixed costs. Because new machines were mostly financed through bonds, interest payments on bonds were high followed by the panic of 1893, yet no firm was willing to accept quantity reduction during this period.

In the long run, due to the desire to keep costs low, it was advantageous for firms to merge and reduce their transportation costs thus producing and transporting from one location rather than various sites of different companies as in the past. This resulted in shipment directly to market from this one location. In addition, technological changes prior to the merger movement within companies increased the efficient size of plants with capital intensive assembly lines allowing for economies of scale. Thus improved technology and transportation were forerunners to the Great Merger Movement. In part due to competitors as mentioned above, and in part due to the government, however, many of these initially successful mergers were eventually dismantled. The U.S. government passed the Sherman Act in 1890, setting rules against price fixing and monopolies. Starting in the 1890s with such cases as U.S. versus Addyston Pipe and Steel Co., the courts attacked large companies for strategizing with others or within their own companies to maximize profits. Price fixing with competitors created a greater incentive for companies to unite and merge under one name so that they were not competitors anymore and technically not price fixing.

In a study conducted in 2000 by Lehman Brothers, it was found that, on average, large M&A deals cause the domestic currency of the target corporation to appreciate by 1% relative to the acquirer's. For every $1-billion deal, the currency of the target corporation increased in value by 0.5%. More specifically, the report found that in the period immediately after the deal is announced, there is generally a strong upward movement in the target corporation's domestic currency (relative to the acquirer's currency). Fifty days after the announcement, the target currency is then, on average, 1% stronger.

The rise of globalization has exponentially increased the market for cross border M&A. In 1996 alone there were over 2000 cross border transactions worth a total of approximately $256 billion. This rapid increase has taken many M&A firms by surprise because the majority of them never had to consider acquiring the capabilities or skills required to effectively handle this kind of transaction. In the past, the market's lack of significance and a more strictly national mindset prevented the vast majority of small and mid-sized companies from considering cross border intermediation as an option which left M&A firms inexperienced in this field. This same reason also prevented the development of any extensive academic works on the subject.

Due to the complicated nature of cross border M&A, the vast majority of cross border actions have unsuccessful results. Cross border intermediation has many more levels of complexity to it then regular intermediation seeing as corporate governance, the power of the average employee, company regulations, political factors customer expectations, and countries' culture are all crucial factors that could spoil the transaction. However, with the weak dollar in the U.S. and soft economies in a number of countries around the world, we are seeing more cross-border bargain hunting as top companies seek to expand their global footprint and become more agile at creating high-performing businesses and cultures across national boundaries.

Even mergers of companies with headquarters in the same country are very much of this type (cross-border Mergers). After all,when Boeing acquires McDonnell Douglas, the two American companies must integrate operations in dozens of countries around the world. This is just as true for other supposedly "single country" mergers, such as the $27 billion dollar merger of Swiss drug makers Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy (now Novartis).

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List of mergers and acquisitions by IBM

The following is a partial list of IBM acquisitions and spinoffs. IBM has undergone a large number of mergers and acquisitions during a corporate history lasting over a century; the company has also produced a number of spinoffs during that time.

The acquisition date listed is the date of the agreement between IBM and the subject of the acquisition. The value of each acquisition is listed in US$ because IBM is based in the United States. If the value of an acquisition is not listed, then it is undisclosed.

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Mergers and acquisitions in United Kingdom law

Mergers and acquisitions in United Kingdom law refers to a body of law that covers companies, labour, and competition, which is engaged when firms restructure their affairs in the course of business.

In company law there are three main areas that regulate mergers and acquisitions (also, reconstructions or takeovers). There are three main areas of law, those to do with schemes of arrangement overseen by a court, those for general reconstructions, demergers, amalgamations and so on that are not overseen by a court, and takeovers, which concern acquisitions of public companies.

Takeovers refers to acquisitions of one company by another. In the City of London, the Panel on Takeovers and Mergers, established in 1968, oversees Companies Act duties, including those laid down in the European Directive on Takeover Bids (2004/25/EC) for public companies. Under the Companies Act 2006 s.979 gives a takeover bidder who has already acquired 90% of a company's shares the right to compulsorily buy out the remaining shareholders (squeeze out). Conversely s.983 allows minority shareholders to insist their stakes are bought out. The rules come under Part 28 of the Act.

More generally, the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers(also called "City Code" or "Takeover Code") lays down rules for a takeover, found in the so called Blue Book. The Code used to be a non-statutory set of rules that was controlled by City institutions on a theoretically voluntary basis. However, as a breach of the Code brought such reputational damage and the possibility of exclusion from City services run by those institutions, it was regarded as binding. In 2006 the Code was put onto a statutory footing as part of the UK's compliance with the European Directive on Takeovers.

The Code requires that all shareholders in a company should be treated equally, regulates when and what information companies must and cannot release publicly in relation to the bid, sets timetables for certain aspects of the bid, and sets minimum bid levels following a previous purchase of shares.

The Rules Governing the Substantial Acquisition of Shares, which used to accompany the Code and which regulated the announcement of certain levels of shareholdings, have now been abolished, because it was viewed to be unnecessarily restrictive of shares between 15% and 29.9% of a company's voting rights.

The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations came into force in 1981 and implement a European Directive on takeovers.

UK law on merger control follows European Union law. The competence to deal with issues that only affect the UK market falls under the OFT and Competition Commission's jurisdiction. These two institutions are influential players in the development of European merger law. The term under EC law for merger is "concentration", which exists when a...

This usually means that one firm buys out the shares of another. The reasons for oversight of economic concentrations by the state are the same as the reasons to restrict firms who abuse a position of dominance, only that regulation of mergers and acquisitions attempts to deal with the problem before it arises, ex ante prevention of creating dominant firms. In the case of Gencor Ltd v. Commission ECR II-753 the EU Court of First Instance wrote merger control is there "to avoid the etablishment of market structures which may create or strengthen a dominant position and not need to control directly possible abuses of dominant positions." What amounts to a substantial lessening of, or significant impediment to competition is usually answered through empirical study. The market shares of the merging companies can be assessed and added, although this kind of analysis only gives rise to presumptions, not conclusions. Something called the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index is used to calculate the "density" of the market, or what concentration exists. Aside from the maths, it is important to consider the product in question and the rate of technical innovation in the market. A further problem of collective dominance, or oligopoly through "economic links" can arise, whereby the new market becomes more conducive to collusion. It is relevant how transparent a market is, because a more concentrated structure could mean firms can coordinate their behaviour more easily, whether firms can deploy deterrants and whether firms are safe from a reaction by their competitors and consumers. The entry of new firms to the market, and any barriers that they might encounter should be considered.

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Corporation

1/8 share of the Stora Kopparberg mine, dated June 16, 1288.

A corporation is a legal entity separate from the persons that form it. It is a legal entity owned by individual stockholders. In British tradition it is the term designating a body corporate, where it can be either a corporation sole (an office held by an individual natural person, which is a legal entity separate from that person) or a corporation aggregate (involving more persons). In American and, increasingly, international usage, the term denotes a body corporate formed to conduct business, and this meaning of corporation is discussed in the remaining part of this entry (the limited company in British usage).

Corporations exist as a product of corporate law, and their rules balance the interests of the shareholders that invest their capital and the employees who contribute their labor. People work together in corporations to produce value and generate income. In modern times, corporations have become an increasingly dominant part of economic life. People rely on corporations for employment, for their goods and services, for the value of the pensions, for economic growth and social development.

The defining feature of a corporation is its legal independence from the people who create it. If a corporation fails, shareholders normally only stand to lose their investment (and possibly, in the unusual case where the shares are not fully paid up, any amount outstanding on them - and not even that in the case of a No liability company), and employees will lose their jobs, but neither will be further liable for debts that remain owing to the corporation's creditors unless they have separately varied this, e.g. with personal guarantees. This rule is called limited liability, and it is why the names of corporations in the UK end with "Ltd." (or some variant like "Inc." and "plc").

Despite not being natural persons, corporations are recognized by the law to have rights and responsibilities like actual people. Corporations can exercise human rights against real individuals and the state, and they may be responsible for human rights violations. Just as they are "born" into existence through its members obtaining a certificate of incorporation, they can "die" when they lose money into insolvency. Corporations can even be convicted of criminal offences, such as fraud and manslaughter. Five common characteristics of the modern corporation, according to Harvard University Professors Hansmann and Kraakman are...

Ownership of a corporation is complicated by increasing social and economic interdependence, as different stakeholders compete to have a say in corporate affairs. In most developed countries excluding the English speaking world, company boards have representatives of both shareholders and employees to "codetermine" company strategy. Calls for increasing corporate social responsibility are made by consumer, environmental and human rights activists, and this has led to larger corporations drawing up codes of conduct. In Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, corporate law has not yet stepped into that field, and its building blocks remain the study of corporate governance and corporate finance.

The word "corporation" derives from corpus, the Latin word for body, or a "body of people". Entities which carried on business and were the subjects of legal rights were found in ancient Rome, and the Maurya Empire in ancient India. In medieval Europe, churches became incorporated, as did local governments, such as the Pope and the City of London Corporation. The point was that the incorporation would survive longer than the lives of any particular member, existing in perpetuity. The alleged oldest commercial corporation in the world, the Stora Kopparberg mining community in Falun, Sweden, obtained a charter from King Magnus Eriksson in 1347. Many European nations chartered corporations to lead colonial ventures, such as the Dutch East India Company or the Hudson's Bay Company, and these corporations came to play a large part in the history of corporate colonialism.

Labelled by both contemporaries and historians as "the grandest society of merchants in the universe", the British East India Company would come to symbolize the dazzlingly rich potential of the corporation, as well as new methods of business that could be both brutal and exploitive. On 31 December 1600, the English monarchy granted the company a fifteen-year monopoly on trade to and from the East Indies and Africa. By 1611, shareholders in the East India Company were earning an almost 150% return on their investment. Subsequent stock offerings demonstrated just how lucrative the Company had become. Its first stock offering in 1613-1616 raised ₤418,000, and its first offering in 1617-1622 raised ₤1.6 million.

In the United States, government chartering began to fall out of vogue in the mid-1800s. Corporate law at the time was focused on protection of the public interest, and not on the interests of corporate shareholders. Corporate charters were closely regulated by the states. Forming a corporation usually required an act of legislature. Investors generally had to be given an equal say in corporate governance, and corporations were required to comply with the purposes expressed in their charters. Many private firms in the 19th century avoided the corporate model for these reasons (Andrew Carnegie formed his steel operation as a limited partnership, and John D. Rockefeller set up Standard Oil as a trust). Eventually, state governments began to realize the greater corporate registration revenues available by providing more permissive corporate laws. New Jersey was the first state to adopt an "enabling" corporate law, with the goal of attracting more business to the state. Delaware followed, and soon became known as the most corporation-friendly state in the country after New Jersey raised taxes on the corporations, driving them out. New Jersey reduced these taxes after this mistake was realized, but by then it was too late; even today, most major public corporations are set up under Delaware law.

By the beginning of the nineteenth century, government policy on both sides of the Atlantic began to change, reflecting the growing popularity of the proposition that corporations were riding the economic wave of the future. In 1819, the U.S. Supreme Court granted corporations a plethora of rights they had not previously recognized or enjoyed. Corporate charters were deemed "inviolable," and not subject to arbitrary amendment or abolition by state governments. The Corporation as a whole was labeled an "artificial person," possessing both individuality and immortality.

At around the same time as the above events were occurring in the United States, British legislation was similarly freeing the corporation from the shackles of historical restrictions. In 1844 British Parliament passed the Joint Stock Companies Act, which allowed companies to incorporate without a royal charter or an additional act of Parliament. Ten years later, England enshrined into law the preeminent hallmark of modern corporate law - the concept of limited liability. Acting in response to increasing pressure from newly emerging capital interests, Parliament passed the Limited Liability Act of 1855, which established the principle that any corporation could enjoy limited legal liability on both contract and tort claims simply by registering as a "limited" company with the appropriate government agency.

By the end of the nineteenth century the forces of limited liability, state and national deregulation, and vastly increasing capital markets had come together to give birth to the corporation in its modern-day form. The well-known Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad decision began to influence policymaking. The decline of restrictions on mergers and acquisitions encouraged a wave of corporate consolidation: from 1898 to 1904, 1,800 U.S. corporations were consolidated into 157. The modern corporate era had begun.

The 20th century saw a proliferation of enabling law across the world, which helped to drive economic booms in many countries before and after World War I. Starting in the 1980s, many countries with large state-owned corporations moved toward privatization, the selling of publicly owned services and enterprises to corporations. Deregulation -- reducing the regulation of corporate activity -- often accompanied privatization as part of an ideologically laissez-faire policy. Another major postwar shift was toward the development of conglomerates, in which large corporations purchased smaller corporations to expand their industrial base. Japanese firms developed a horizontal conglomeration model, the keiretsu, which was later duplicated in other countries as well.

The legal personality has two economic implications. First it grants creditors priority over the corporate assets upon liquidation. Second, corporate assets cannot be withdrawn by its shareholders, nor can the assets of the firm be taken by personal creditors of its shareholders. The second feature requires special legislation and a special legal framework, as it cannot be reproduced via standard contract law.

Persons and other legal entities composed of persons (such as trusts and other corporations) can have the right to vote or share in the profit of corporations. In the case of for-profit corporations, these voters hold shares of stock and are thus called shareholders or stockholders. When no stockholders exist, a corporation may exist as a non-stock corporation, and instead of having stockholders, the corporation has members who have the right to vote on its operations. If the non-stock corporation is not operated for profit, it is called a not-for-profit corporation. In either category, the corporation comprises a collective of individuals with a distinct legal status and with special privileges not provided to ordinary unincorporated businesses, to voluntary associations, or to groups of individuals.

For the purposes of the next few paragraphs, the term "members" will be used to refer to stockholders of a stock corporation and members of a non-stock corporation.

There are two broad classes of corporate governance forms in the world. In most of the world, control of the corporation is determined by a board of directors which is elected by the shareholders. In some jurisdictions, such as Germany, the control of the corporation is divided into two tiers with a supervisory board which elects a managing board. Germany is also unique in having a system known as co-determination in which half of the supervisory board consists of representatives of the employees. The CEO, president, treasurer, and other titled officers are usually chosen by the board to manage the affairs of the corporation.

In addition to the influence of shareholders, corporations can be controlled (in part) by creditors such as banks. In return for lending money to the corporation, creditors can demand a controlling interest analogous to that of a member, including one or more seats on the board of directors. In some jurisdictions, such as Germany and Japan, it is standard for banks to own shares in corporations whereas in other jurisdictions such as the United States and the United Kingdom banks are prohibited from owning shares in external corporation.

Members of a corporation (except for non-profit corporations) are said to have a "residual interest." Should the corporation end its existence, the members are the last to receive its assets, following creditors and others with interests in the corporation. This can make investment in a corporation risky; however, a diverse investment portfolio minimizes this risk. In addition, shareholders receive the benefit of limited liability regulations, making shareholders liable for only the amount they contributed. This only applies in the case of for-profit corporations; non-profits are not allowed to have residual benefits available to the members.

Historically, corporations were created by special charter of governments. Today, corporations are usually registered with the state, province, or national government and become regulated by the laws enacted by that government. Registration is the main prerequisite to the corporation's assumption of limited liability. As part of this registration, it must in many cases be required to designate the principal address of the corporation as well as a registered agent (a person or company that is designated to receive legal service of process). As part of the registration, it may also be required to designate an agent or other legal representative of the corporation depending on the filing jurisdiction.

Generally, a corporation files articles of incorporation with the government, laying out the general nature of the corporation, the amount of stock it is authorized to issue, and the names and addresses of directors. Once the articles are approved, the corporation's directors meet to create bylaws that govern the internal functions of the corporation, such as meeting procedures and officer positions.

The law of the jurisdiction in which a corporation operates will regulate most of its internal activities, as well as its finances. If a corporation operates outside its home state, it is often required to register with other governments as a foreign corporation, and is almost always subject to laws of its host state pertaining to employment, crimes, contracts, civil actions, and the like.

Corporations generally have a distinct name. Historically, some corporations were named after their membership: for instance, "The President and Fellows of Harvard College." Nowadays, corporations in most jurisdictions have a distinct name that does not need to make reference to their membership. In Canada, this possibility is taken to its logical extreme: many smaller Canadian corporations have no names at all, merely numbers based on their Provincial Sales Tax registration number (e.g., "12345678 Ontario Limited").

In most countries, corporate names include the term "Corporation", or an abbreviation that denotes the corporate status of the entity. These terms vary by jurisdiction and language. In some jurisdictions they are mandatory, and in others they are not. Their use puts all persons on constructive notice that they have to deal with an entity whose liability remains limited, in the sense that it does not reach back to the persons who constitute the entity; one can only collect from whatever assets the entity still controls at the time one obtains a judgment against it.

Certain jurisdictions do not allow the use of the word "company" alone to denote corporate status, since the word "company" may refer to a partnership or to a sole proprietorship, or even, archaically, to a group of not necessarily related people (for example, those staying in a tavern).

The nature of the corporation continues to evolve in response to new situations as existing corporations promote new ideas and structures, the courts respond, and governments issue new regulations. A question of long standing is that of diffused responsibility. For example, if a corporation is found liable for a death, how should culpability and punishment for it be allocated among shareholders, directors, management and staff, and the corporation itself? See corporate liability, and specifically, corporate manslaughter.

Most corporations are registered with the local jurisdiction as either a stock corporation or a non-stock corporation. Stock corporations sell stock to generate capital. A stock corporation is generally a for-profit corporation. A non-stock corporation does not have stockholders, but may have members who have voting rights in the corporation.

Some jurisdictions (Washington, D.C., for example) separate corporations into for-profit and non-profit, as opposed to dividing into stock and non-stock.

In modern economic systems, conventions of corporate governance commonly appear in a wide variety of business and non-profit activities. Though the laws governing these creatures of statute often differ, the courts often interpret provisions of the law that apply to profit-making enterprises in the same manner (or in a similar manner) when applying principles to non-profit organizations — as the underlying structures of these two types of entity often resemble each other.

The institution most often referenced by the word "corporation" is a public or publicly traded corporation, the shares of which are traded on a public stock exchange (e.g., the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq in the United States) where shares of stock of corporations are bought and sold by and to the general public. Most of the largest businesses in the world are publicly traded corporations. However, the majority of corporations are said to be closely held, privately held or close corporations, meaning that no ready market exists for the trading of shares. Many such corporations are owned and managed by a small group of businesspeople or companies, although the size of such a corporation can be as vast as the largest public corporations.

Closely held corporations do have some advantages over publicly traded corporations. A small, closely held company can often make company-changing decisions much more rapidly than a publicly traded company. A publicly traded company is also at the mercy of the market, having capital flow in and out based not only on what the company is doing but the market and even what the competitors are doing. Publicly traded companies also have advantages over their closely held counterparts. Publicly traded companies often have more working capital and can delegate debt throughout all shareholders. This means that people invested in a publicly traded company will each take a much smaller hit to their own capital as opposed to those involved with a closely held corporation. Publicly traded companies though suffer from this exact advantage. A closely held corporation can often voluntarily take a hit to profit with little to no repercussions (as long as it is not a sustained loss). A publicly traded company though often comes under extreme scrutiny if profit and growth are not evident to stock holders, thus stock holders may sell, further damaging the company. Often this blow is enough to make a small public company fail.

Often communities benefit from a closely held company more so than from a public company. A closely held company is far more likely to stay in a single place that has treated them well, even if going through hard times. The shareholders can incur some of the damage the company may receive from a bad year or slow period in the company profits. Workers benefit in that closely held companies often have a better relationship with workers. In larger, publicly traded companies, often when a year has gone badly the first area to feel the effects are the work force with lay offs or worker hours, wages or benefits being cut. Again, in a closely held business the shareholders can incur this profit damage rather than passing it to the workers. Closely held businesses are also often known to be more socially responsible than publicly traded companies.

The affairs of publicly traded and closely held corporations are similar in many respects. The main difference in most countries is that publicly traded corporations have the burden of complying with additional securities laws, which (especially in the U.S.) may require additional periodic disclosure (with more stringent requirements), stricter corporate governance standards, and additional procedural obligations in connection with major corporate transactions (e.g. mergers) or events (e.g. elections of directors).

A closely held corporation may be a subsidiary of another corporation (its parent company), which may itself be either a closely held or a public corporation.

A mutual benefit nonprofit corporation is a corporation formed in the United States solely for the benefit of its members. An example of a mutual benefit nonprofit corporation is a golf club. Individuals pay to join the club, memberships may be bought and sold, and any property owned by the club is distributed to its members if the club dissolves. The club can decide, in its corporate bylaws, how many members to have, and who can be a member. Generally, while it is a nonprofit corporation, a mutual benefit corporation is not a charity. Because it is not a charity, a mutual benefit nonprofit corporation cannot obtain 501(c)(3) status. If there is a dispute as to how a mutual benefit nonprofit corporation is being operated, it is up to the members to resolve the dispute since the corporation exists to solely serve the needs of its membership and not the general public.

Following on the success of the corporate model at a national level, many corporations have become transnational or multinational corporations: growing beyond national boundaries to attain sometimes remarkable positions of power and influence in the process of globalizing.

The typical "transnational" or "multinational" may fit into a web of overlapping shareholders and directorships, with multiple branches and lines in different regions, many such sub-groupings comprising corporations in their own right. Growth by expansion may favor national or regional branches; growth by acquisition or merger can result in a plethora of groupings scattered around and/or spanning the globe, with structures and names which do not always make clear the structures of shareholder ownership and interaction.

In the spread of corporations across multiple continents, the importance of corporate culture has grown as a unifying factor and a counterweight to local national sensibilities and cultural awareness.

In Australia corporations are registered and regulated by the Commonwealth Government through the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. Corporations law has been largely codified in the Corporations Act 2001.

In Brazil there are many different types of corporations ("sociedades"), but the two most common ones commercially speaking are: (i) "sociedade limitada", identified by "Ltda." after the company's name, equivalent to the British limited company, and (ii) "sociedade anônima" or "companhia", identified by "SA" or "Companhia" in the company's name, equivalent to the British public limited company. The "Ltda." is mainly governed by the new Civil Code, enacted in 2002, and the "SA" by the Law 6.404 dated 15 December 1976.

In Canada both the federal government and the provinces have corporate statutes, and thus a corporation may have a provincial or a federal charter. Many older corporations in Canada stem from Acts of Parliament passed before the introduction of general corporation law. The oldest corporation in Canada is the Hudson's Bay Company; though its business has always been based in Canada, its Royal Charter was issued in England by King Charles II in 1670, and became a Canadian charter by amendment in 1970 when it moved its corporate headquarters from London to Canada. Federally recognized corporations are regulated by the Canada Business Corporations Act.

Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein recognize two forms of corporation: the Aktiengesellschaft (AG), analogous to public corporations in the English-speaking world, and the Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung (GmbH), similar to (and an inspiration for) the modern limited liability company.

The Italian Republic recognises three types of company with limited liability: "S.r.l", or "Società a responsabilità limitata" (a private limited company), "S.p.A" or "Società per Azioni" (a joint-stock company, similar to a Public Limited Company in the United Kingdom), and "S.a.p.a" ("Società in Accomandita per Azioni"). The latter is a hybrid form that involves two categories of shareholders, some with and some without limited liability, and is rarely used in practice.

In Japan, both the state and local public entities under the Local Autonomy Law (prefectures and municipalities) are considered to be corporations (法人 ,hōjin?). Non-profit corporations may be established under the Civil Code.

The term "company" (会社 ,kaisha?) is used to refer to business corporations. The predominant form is the kabushiki kaisha, used by public corporations as well as smaller enterprises. Mochibun kaisha, a form for smaller enterprises, are becoming increasingly common.

In the United Kingdom, 'corporation' most commonly refers to a body corporate formed by Royal Charter or by statute, of which few now remain. The BBC is the oldest and best known corporation within the UK that is still in existence. Others, such as the British Steel Corporation, were privatized in the 1980s.

In the private sector, corporations are referred to in law as companies, and are regulated by the Companies Act 2006 (or the Northern Ireland equivalent). The most common type of company is the private limited company ("Limited" or "Ltd."). Private limited companies can either be limited by shares or by guarantee. Other corporate forms include the public limited company ("PLC") and the unlimited company.

Several types of corporations exist in the United States. Generically, any business entity that is recognized as distinct from the people who own it (i.e., is not a sole proprietorship or a partnership) is a corporation. This generic label includes entities that are known by such legal labels as ‘association’, ‘organization’ and ‘limited liability company’, as well as corporations proper. Only a company that has been formally incorporated according to the laws of a particular state is called ‘corporation’. American corporations can be either profit-making companies or non-profit entities. Tax-exempt non-profit corporations are often called “501(c)3 corporation”, after the section of the Internal Revenue Code that addresses their tax exemption.

Corporations are created by filing the requisite documents with a particular state government. The process is called “incorporation,” referring to the abstract concept of clothing the entity with a "veil" of artificial personhood (embodying, or “corporating” it, ‘corpus’ being the Latin word for ‘body’). Only certain corporations, including banks, are chartered. Others simply file their articles of incorporation with the state government as part of a registration process.

The federal government can only create corporate entities pursuant to relevant powers in the U.S. Constitution. For example, Congress has constitutional power to regulate banking, so it has power to charter federal banks.

Once incorporated, the corporation has artificial personhood everywhere it may operate, until such time as the corporation may be dissolved. A corporation that operates in one state while being incorporated in another is a “foreign corporation.” This label also applies to corporations incorporated outside of the United States. Foreign corporations must usually register with the secretary of state’s office in each state to lawfully conduct business in that state.

A corporation is legally a citizen of the state (or other jurisdiction) in which it is incorporated (except when circumstances direct the corporation be classified as a citizen of the state in which it has its head office, or the state in which it does the majority of its business). Corporate business law differs from state to state, and many prospective corporations choose to incorporate in a state whose laws are most favorable to its business interests. Many large corporations are incorporated in Delaware, for example, without being physically located there because that state has very favorable corporate tax and disclosure laws.

Companies set up for privacy or asset protection often incorporate in Nevada, which does not require disclosure of share ownership. Many states, particularly smaller ones, have modeled their corporate statutes after the Model Business Corporation Act, one of many model sets of law prepared and published by the American Bar Association.

As juristic persons, corporations have certain rights that attach to natural purposes. The vast majority of them attach to corporations under state law, especially the law of the state in which the company is incorporated – since the corporations very existence is predicated on the laws of that state. A few rights also attach by federal constitutional and statutory law, but they are few and far between compared to the rights of natural persons. For example, a corporation has the personal right to bring a lawsuit (as well as the capacity to be sued) and, like a natural person, a corporation can be libeled.

But a corporation has no constitutional right to freely exercise its religion because religious exercise is something that only "natural" persons can do. That is, only human beings, not business entities, have the necessary faculties of belief and spirituality that enable them to possess and exercise religious beliefs.

Harvard College (a component of Harvard University), formally the President and Fellows of Harvard College (also known as the Harvard Corporation), is the oldest corporation in the western hemisphere. Founded in 1636, the second of Harvard’s two governing boards was incorporated by the Great and General Court of Massachusetts in 1650. Significantly, Massachusetts itself was a corporate colony at that time – owned and operated by the Massachusetts Bay Company (until it lost its charter in 1684) - so Harvard College is a corporation created by a corporation.

Many nations have modeled their own corporate laws on American business law. Corporate law in Saudi Arabia, for example, follows the model of New York State corporate law. In addition to typical corporations in the United States, the federal government, in 1971 passed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), which authorized the creation of 12 regional native corporations for Alaska Natives and over 200 village corporations that were entitled to a settlement of land and cash. In addition to the 12 regional corporations, the legislation permitted a thirteenth regional corporation without a land settlement for those Alaska Natives living out of the State of Alaska at the time of passage of ANCSA.

In many countries corporate profits are taxed at a corporate tax rate, and dividends paid to shareholders are taxed at a separate rate. Such a system is sometimes referred to as "double taxation", because any profits distributed to shareholders will eventually be taxed twice. One solution to this (as in the case of the Australian and UK tax systems) is for the recipient of the dividend to be entitled to a tax credit which addresses the fact that the profits represented by the dividend have already been taxed. The company profit being passed on is therefore effectively only taxed at the rate of tax paid by the eventual recipient of the dividend. In other systems, dividends are taxed at a lower rate than other income (e.g. in the US) or shareholders are taxed directly on the corporation's profits and dividends are not taxed (e.g. S corporations in the US).

Granting a collectivist entity the rights and privileges of a person can be problematic in a democratic society, as it threatens to undermine the fundamental principle of equality by creating a unique class of persons with unprecedented access to financial resources, limited legal accountability, and virtual immortality. Moreover, unlike real individuals, who function with the guidance of complex moral guidelines, possess a sensitivity to social norms and mores, and who presumably seek to co-exist peacefully with their neighbors, corporations exist solely to consolidate wealth and accumulate power. In allowing the judicial system to aid corporations in accumulating profit, the state has essentially agreed to use its own resources (i.e. those of the people) to support corporations' efforts to accumulate more wealth into the hands of fewer people.

As Adam Smith pointed out in the Wealth of Nations, when ownership is separated from management (i.e. the actual production process required to obtain the capital), the former will inevitably begin to neglect the interests of the latter, creating dysfunction within the company. Some maintain that recent events in corporate America may serve to reinforce Smith's warnings about the dangers of legally-protected collectivist hierarchies.

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Symantec

Symantec headquarters in Cupertino

Symantec Corporation NASDAQ: SYMC, founded in 1982, is an international corporation which sells computer software, particularly in the realms of security and information management. Headquartered in Cupertino, California, USA, Symantec has operations in more than 40 countries and is part of the NASDAQ 100 and Fortune 500 2008. Symantec is one of the ten largest software companies in the world.

Gary Hendrix founded the company in 1982 with the help of a National Science Foundation grant. Symantec was originally focused on artificial intelligence-related projects, and Hendrix hired several Stanford University natural language processing researchers as the company's first employees. Symantec released its first product, Q&A, in 1985. Symantec first became well-known as the publisher of Q & A, a dual-mode product that was both a word processor and a database. During the 1990s, Symantec switched focus away from development of its own products and towards acquisition of other companies. An early purchase gave Symantec ownership of Norton Utilities, created in the mid-1980s by software engineer Peter Norton. At one time Symantec was also known for its development tools, particularly the THINK Pascal, THINK C, Symantec C++, and Visual Cafe packages that were popular on the Macintosh and IBM PC compatible platforms; they exited this business in the late-1990s as competitors such as Metrowerks, Microsoft, and Borland gained significant market share.

In recent years, Symantec has been primarily known for its Norton-branded antivirus and utility software. Products released under the Symantec name include Norton AntiVirus, Norton Commander, Norton Internet Security, Norton 360, Norton Personal Firewall, Norton SystemWorks (which now contains Norton Utilities), Norton Password Manager, Norton AntiSpam, Norton GoBack (formerly Roxio GoBack), Norton Confidential, Norton AntiBot and Norton Ghost (originally published by Binary Research).

Due to the 2003 acquisition of PowerQuest, Symantec continues to sell, but not develop, the last version of PartitionMagic, now called Norton PartitionMagic. This is true as well of the NetWare partition manager, ServerMagic. PowerQuest's Drive Image software replaced the original Norton Ghost software, yet retains Norton Ghost as its name.

Symantec is also an industry leader in comprehensive electronic messaging security, offering solutions for instant messaging, antispam, antivirus, legal compliance, content compliance, legal discovery and message archiving.

The Symantec Security Response organization (formerly Symantec Antivirus Research Center) is one of the foremost antivirus and computer security research groups in the industry.

On December 16, 2004, Veritas and Symantec announced their plans for a merger. With Veritas valued at $13.5 billion, it was the largest software industry merger to date. Symantec's shareholders voted to approve the merger on June 24, 2005; the deal closed successfully on July 2, 2005. July 5, 2005 was the first day of business for U.S. offices of the new, combined software company. After the merger, Symantec now includes storage related products in its portfolio. Veritas File System (VxFS), Veritas Volume Manager (VxVM) and Veritas Volume Replicator are but three.

Symantec later extended Veritas's volume file mapping technology to the Norton-branded 2007 line of products, aiming to enhance rootkit detection.

On August 16, 2005, Symantec acquired Sygate a security software firm with about 200 staff, based in Fremont, California. As of November 30, 2005 all Sygate personal firewall products were discontinued by Symantec and now appears to be part of Symantec's Norton range called Norton Personal Firewall (discontinued and merged into Norton-brand line of software).

On January 29, 2007, Symantec announced plans to acquire Altiris and on April 6, 2007 the acquisition was completed. Altiris specializes in service-oriented management software which allows organizations to manage IT assets. They also provide software for web services, security, and systems management products. Established in 1998, Altiris is headquartered in Lindon, Utah, United States.

On January 17, 2008, Symantec announced that they were spinning off the Application Performance Management (Precise Software Solutions) business to Vector Capital. Upon closing of the transaction, Precise Software Solutions will take over all development, product management, marketing and sales for the APM business. To ensure a smooth transition for customers and the new company overall, Symantec will continue to support the APM business post closing via a transition services agreement. Additionally, Symantec and Vector have signed an agreement allowing Symantec to continue to sell APM software and support to its customers. Further, Symantec will continue to honor the terms and conditions of its support commitments to its customers, and will leverage the APM personnel transferred over to Precise Software Solutions to ensure continuity of support. This business unit contains all the i3 products.

On October 9, 2008, Symantec announced that they were to acquire Gloucester based MessageLabs (who spun off from their parent company Star Internet in 2007) to boost their Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model.

The latest major release from Symantec is Norton AntiVirus/Internet Security (released on September 9, 2008), most notable for addressing excessive resource usage of earlier releases.

For a fuller list of acquisitions, see List of mergers and acquisitions by Symantec.

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Source : Wikipedia