Mergers and Acquisitions

Have you ever dreamt of becoming an investment banker or lawyer specialising in the fantastic world of M&As? Come and explore this interesting course…

Name of minor: Mergers and Acquisitions
Code: MINRSM008
Teaching language: English
Offered by: Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM); Department of Finance
Other programmes which are contributing to the minor: not applicable
Access: See admissions matrix


The course concentrates on the motives and strategic aspects of takeovers and restructuring, the valuation of firms involved in takeovers, the role of agency conflicts between the management and the shareholders of a corporation, the effect of takeovers and restructuring on shareholder value and the practical aspects of the takeover process. It introduces the key principles and techniques of successful mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and leveraged buyouts. In this minor, we also look at the psychological aspects of corporate restructuring transactions. You will study textbooks, relevant academic papers and various real-world M&A cases. Moreover, we will discuss the impact of the recent financial crisis on corporate restructuring activities throughout the world.

Learning objectives:

After taking this course, you should be well equipped with all general knowledge regarding the M&A world. Specifically, you should be able to answer questions such as: Overall, do M&As pay? What are the various motivations for M&As? When do M&As make sense? What are the drivers of M&A waves? How does one value a M&A deal? What is the M&A process? What is the appropriate M&A risk management strategy? What does it take to make the "synergy" come to life? When do leveraged buy-outs make sense, and how can they be financed? etc.

Whether you will become a corporate CEO, a lawyer, a journalist, an investment banker, an academic or an auditor, the chances are big that you will, at one point or another, be confronted with M&A activities, either directly or indirectly. This course is directed to a wide population of students.

Specific characteristics:

The required skills for the course are: basic insights in mathematics and statistics; good knowledge of English; some basic knowledge on corporate finance would be a plus, but is not essential. 


Maximum number of students that can participate in the minor: not applicable
Minimum number of students that can participate in the minor: 8

Studie load:

15 ects (420 hours)

Teaching methods:

(Interactive) lectures (incl. guest lectures) and workshops. Attendance to all lectures and workshops is mandatory.

The lectures are intended to discuss the required and optional textbooks as well as relevant academic articles. The articles to be read will be announced on Blackboard. The setup of the lectures is interactive, with a lot of room for student participation. We will also try to invite guest speaker(s) that represent different viewpoints on M&A activity to our class meeting(s). Past guest speakers included a M&A partner and a M&A senior manager from PricewaterhouseCoopers (the #1 accounting firm in the world), a managing director of Leonardo & Co. (an international boutique investment bank), and a senior manager from BDO Corporate Finance B.V. (a large consulting firm in the Netherlands) and their lectures were very well received by students.

During the workshops, you are expected to present and discuss the results of group assignments (cases, event studies, discussion of academic articles, etc.). Teams should consist of 4 to 5 students and need to be formed during the first lecture. We will provide more details on the group assignments during the first lecture. In total, there will be about 5 to 6 group assignments (thus there will be 5 to 6 workshops). The format of workshops will vary. Sometimes, groups will be asked to take stands on certain issues and defend their positions. At other times, individual groups will be asked to do the same. Sometimes the main issue will be identified and you will be asked to develop specific answers to well-posed questions. Sometimes, however, you will have to identify the problems as well and live with the ambiguity that comes from the absence of clear-cut solutions. Our focus is not to solve every problem without dispute but to learn how to frame and think about the underlying issues. Group work is absolutely critical to your learning and you will typically learn as much (if not more) from your small group discussions as from the class sessions.

I will post lecture notes, problem sets and solutions, workshop assignments, review problems for exams and solutions, and announcements etc on Blackboard. Students need to check Blackboard regularly, and definitely do so before coming to each class meeting.

Teaching materials:

Required textbook:

  • “Applied Mergers and Acquisitions” by Robert Bruner, John Wiley & Sons, 2004

Supplementary (optional) textbooks:

  • “Mergers, acquisitions and corporate restructurings” by Patrick A. Gaughan, 4th ed., John Wiley & Sons, 2007
  • “Valuation for Acquisitions, Buyouts and Restructuring” by Enrique Arzac, 2nd Edition, John Wiley & Sons, 2007


Method of examination:

The break-up of the class grade is as follows:

10% - Participation in Class Discussions
Participation in class discussions is fundamental to the learning of this class. The in-class discussion forms an important component of learning. Accordingly, about 10% of the course evaluation is based on your participation.

10% - Problem Sets
There will be two to three problem sets which should be completed by each student independently and individually. The problem sets will consist of questions to make sure that you have followed the lectures, and have read all the relevant materials. You are expected to hand in your own solutions to the problem sets on time (in a printed or clearly hand-written format). Suggested solutions to problem sets will be posted after the due date. Problem sets will be graded. Anyone who misses a problem set will automatically receive a grade of 0 for that problem set. A late problem set (acceptable only before the solutions are posted online) will be docked 4 points automatically.  There will be no exception for any reason.

40% - Workshop (group) assignments
Each group is required to turn in one and only one group report for each workshop (group) assignment. Reports will typically be 2-3 pages long plus any supporting exhibits. Each group should turn in the report (hard-copy) at the beginning of the corresponding workshop (presentation and discussion) class session. Grade of each workshop assignment will be given to the entire group (i.e., each member will receive the same grade).

40% - Final Exam
Exam questions will be related to the course material covered in class meetings (lectures, workshops, guest lectures, articles, plus anything discussed during the lectures and workshops). “Review problems for exams and solutions” will be provided to prepare you for the final exam. The final exam is a closed book written exam. Students will receive feedback on their final exam through Blackboard.

Contact information

Contact person:

Dr. Buhui Qiu
Phone: (010) 408 1450                                    
Office: T09-39

Faculty websites:

Minor website RSM
Personal page B. Qiu

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