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Mega M&A means job postings vanish at Fortune 500 companies

7 months ago by Jon Marino in Markets

Fiat-Chrysler ($NYSE:FCAU) tipped its hand in the beginning of 2019, as it launched into M&A negotiations with French automaker Renault ($EPA:RNO), in what may lead to a $39 billion mega-merger of two top European automakers. 

It also slashed job openings by a third.

Fiat-Chrysler is far from the only company to reduce job postings as it weighs transformational deals; our data shows that the biggest M&A deals of 2019 often were preceded by the elimination of hundreds of available jobs. Further, as Fortune 500 companies close in on completing transactions, they may be inclined to cut open roles even more. 

Suntrust & BB&T Aim to Combine in Mega-Merger of Equals

Financial services deals are similar to automaker M&A in that they often require combining legacy corporate cultures. Along with that comes redundancies and a reduced dependence on staffing, especially for a $66 billion banking deal. Such was the case when Suntrust ($NYSE:STI) leadership began to hammer out a deal with BB&T ($NYSE:BBT) that would result in the largest banking merger since the global financial crisis. 

At Suntrust, job openings plummeted more than 40% from when executives began discussing the deal in August 2018 until the beginning of 2019. The merger was announced in early February of this year. 

Fiserv Buys First Data

Before Fiserv ($NASDAQ:FISV) agreed in January to buy First Data ($NYSE:FDC) in a deal valued at more than $22 billion, the buyer went from a late-2018 peak of 879 jobs to an early 2019 low of 410, a decrease of more than 50%. The transaction has yet to close. 

But now, take a look at First Data — the target's — job postings. In late July, both companies substantially began to eliminate hundreds of job postings, a likely sign that they had begun talks, and started to consider efficiencies that might come about as a result of a deal. 

FIS Strikes a Deal for Worldpay

FIS ($NYSE:FIS) agreed in March to buy payment processor Worldpay ($NYSE:WP) in a $43 billion deal. FIS only trimmed about 10% of its job postings from its peak (see chart below) until the deal was announced. 

Bristol-Myers Squibb Makes Cuts Before Announcing a Deal - And, Once it Closes, Too

Rounding out the 2019 mega M&A list is Bristol-Myers Squibb ($NYSE:BYM), which agreed to buy biotech firm Celgene ($NASDAQ:CELG) in a $74 billion deal announced January 3 and closed in early April. Bristol-Myers Squibb job postings show the company reduced postings more than 20% from its 2018 peak to the deal announcement date, and by nearly 50% by the time it had closed. As for Celgene; it was an outlier in terms of our data - and job postings grew from 2018 to 2019. 

Bear in mind: not every mega-merger necessarily results in job cuts or fewer job postings. When companies earlier in their development agree to be acquired (for example, social media and technology companies) there may be little to no reduction in job postings. But when it comes to large legacy institutions, the bigger they are, it seems the harder they cut.

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Jon Marino

Jon Marino is Thinknum's finance editor, covering the impacts of alternative data on public companies and investors. Prior to joining Thinknum, Jon worked in the ...

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