In business world, the terms of Mergers and Acquisitions are often used side by side for the activity of combining two or more business organizations. The unification is performed by companies whether they come from the same industry or different industries with different market to become a single business enterprise.
Although it refers to the same activity of combining the business entities into a single entity, merger and acquisition have slight different condition in the term of the size of business organization that performing the unification.
In acquisition the unification process is performed by bigger company to smaller company. In this process the smaller company was bought and takes over by the larger company. In this buyout process the smaller company is inferior to the larger company, so it must follow the larger company decision and policy.
In acquisition, the larger company can decide whether to let the smaller company continue to exist and keep operating their business with the old company name and trading their own stocks but under the bigger company management, so the smaller company will act as subsidiary company. Or, the bigger company can decide to completely cease the smaller company name and stop trading their stocks and operating their business using the bigger company name.
If the smaller company is operating in a different type of market and industry as the bigger company, that is mean the bigger company has branch out to the different type of industry and expand their businesses.
Acquisition is a common practice in business world when big company want to expand their business or want to enter different market and industries but do not want to start from the scratch. So, they do not have to spend their budget in starting up cost such as starting new market research, resources planning, permit, distribution and other startup cost.
Meanwhile in merger the unification process is performed by companies that roughly have equal strength and size. The company name will be decided with the agreement from each parties and each company stocks will be merged and traded as one.