Friday, January 12, 2007

"Iacta alea est"


Afficionados of Ancient Roman history (and the current HBO series "Rome") will recognize the title of this inaugural posting as coming from our good friend and paragon among alpha males, Gaius Julius Caesar. It translates roughly as "the die is cast." Caesar supposedly uttered this phrase as he crossed the river Rubicon, ancient and sacred boundary of the Roman Republic, in full war regalia at the head of a fully armed legion of crack Roman troops. Other Romans, historians tell us, considered this to be very bad form, at the least.

Caesar went on to oversee what we might call a successful hostile takeover of the Republic, ultimately appointing himself as Dictator for Life. Eventually, of course, some disgruntled senators took it upon themselves to restore the Republic (or at least get rid of Caesar), and the poor fellow ended up expiring on the Senate floor in a pool of his own blood. Now—minus the dodgy togas and the bronze daggers—this scenario draws so many parallels to the current state of play in mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, and executive behavior as to make the head spin. Substitute, Dear Reader, the names of prominent companies, executives, directors, shareholder groups, and hedge funds of your choice into the preceding scenario in almost any order, and it is likely you will create a coherent and understandable picture of recent developments in the global M&A markets. "Et tu, Robert Nardelli?"

Now my point in the preceding rant was not to make you think this blog will become a specious exercise in drawing historical parallels to current events (although that can be fun too, sometimes). Nor was it to imply that my starting this blog is even remotely of similar importance to Caesar's declaration of war against the Republic of Rome (although—let's face it—all bloggers are convinced that what they have to say is worth reading). Caesar's point was that he had literally crossed the line, and there was no going back.

I think I am trying to say the same thing. I have started this blog to comment on what I consider to be a fascinating part of the global economy: the global market for M&A and its various inhabitants, participants, and miscreants. Hopefully I will be able to relate some interesting anecdotes, a few enlightening opinions, and a couple of amusing stories that will shed a little more light (or a little more laughter) on what remains for many a murky area best left to investment bankers, corporate lawyers, and other such terrifying bogeymen.

Now, Gentle Reader, put your hand in mine and I will lead you to Wonderland. As that other preeminent takeover artist, Austin Powers, said, "I won't bite . . . hard."

© 2007 The Epicurean Dealmaker. All rights reserved.