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Gods at War: Shotgun Takeovers, Government by Deal, and the Private Equity Implosion Hardcover – October 5, 2009
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From the Inside Flap
While the financial community looks to regain its footing, dealmakers will continue to do what they've always done—structure deals that drive the fate of corporate America. With powerful professionals competing to create and close better deals, these executives, like gods, will determine the future of companies and our economy.
Author Steven Davidoff understands both the intricacies of these deals and the forces driving them. Writing as "The Deal Professor" for the New York Times "DealBook," he provides daily commentary on the latest takeover news and has become a nationally known authority on this fast-moving field. Now, with Gods at War, Davidoff introduces you to this trillion-dollar business—from private equity and government to hedge funds and sovereign wealth funds—and reveals the recent events that have changed the way the game is played.
Gods at War is the definitive story of deal-making. Opening with an engaging look at the evolution of this discipline, the book quickly moves into the modern era—where deal-making has become a truly global endeavor—and works its way through the current financial crisis and beyond. Page by page, it skillfully details:
The private equity boom and its implosion
The return of the strategic transaction and hostile takeover
The failure of the investment banking model
The government's deal-making during the recent financial crisis
And much more
Each chapter unfolds through the lens of recent events, from the battle between Yahoo! and Microsoft to the United Rentals/Cerberus dispute. Along the way, you'll also become familiar with the federal government's regulation by deal approach to saving the financial system—which included the serial bailouts of AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup, and others. In describing the dynamic events of this period, Davidoff not only reveals how deals are accomplished in modern capital markets, but he also details the transformation that the takeover marketplace is undergoing and its prospects for the future. In doing so, he puts forth a definitive view and theory of deals and deal-making.
The financial revolution, globalization, and financial crises have permanently changed deal-making—creating perils and opportunities for both dealmakers and regulators. With Gods at War as your guide, you'll gain a better understanding of this discipline and discover the various events, individuals, and institutions that continue to shape this competitive arena.
From the Back Cover
Praise for Gods at War
"Gods at War brilliantly analyzes the legal issues, the politics, and the players in high-profile merger and acquisition transactions. Steven Davidoff is a master of the tactics and rules of deal-making, and he has once again shown why he is one of the country's most respected legal writers."—Rob Kindler, Vice Chairman and Global Head of Mergers & Acquisitions at Morgan Stanley
"In Gods at War, Steven Davidoff, aka The Deal Professor, delivers a detailed and lucid treatise of the fascinating historical precedents that resulted in the frenzied deal-making activity that ended abruptly with our current financial crisis and then goes on, in impressive fashion, to discuss what deals will look like in a new era dominated by government ownership and a lack of acquisition financing. Deal practitioners—and those just curious about all the fuss—will want this book at the top of their reading list."—William D. Cohan, author of House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street and The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Frères & Co.
"Davidoff is one of the most insightful and perceptive minds in the world of deal-making. With an ability to distill the most complicated legal issues into clear prose, he has become a must-read inside the nation's boardrooms and corner offices."—Andrew Ross Sorkin, Editor of The New York Times's "DealBook" and author of Too Big to Fail
"Where will M&A go next? Any answer depends on an understanding of the merger wave of 2002–8, which this book affords. Rich in fresh insights, carefully researched, and well written, Gods at War gives a threshold to the future of M&A. I commend it to students, practitioners, and fans of high finance."—Robert F. Bruner, Dean and Charles C. Abbott Professor of Business Administration, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia, author of Deals from Hell: M&A Lessons that Rise Above the Ashes, and coauthor of The Panic of 1907
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Top customer reviews
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Professor Davidoff teaches law after practicing in the M&A field for a decade, and his book is about the law, but it's not written for lawyers - thankfully. Instead, it is for readers with some understanding of the financial markets and an interest in learning how deals get done, or are thwarted by management and competitors. Most importantly, he explains how new sources of capital, especially private investment pools and hedge funds, are changing the way transactions occur.
As an added bonus, Gods at War provides a nice history of the financial meltdown after the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers in 2008. What had once been a private market, with S.E.C. regulation but not much serious interference in the marketplace, has changed into what he calls "Government by Deal." The current financial reform legislation aims to make this a permanent feature of the financial system by giving Washington the power to seize control of large institutions that pose too great a risk to the economy's stability - making permanent the notion of "too big to fail." His assessment of where the deal machinery may be headed looks to be dead on.
Professor Davidoff gives us a look behind the deal-making curtain by showing how transactions are not pre-ordained marches to financial nirvana but involve a combination of skill and luck with some very human actors inside the companies, in the law firms and investment banks, and the judges who must resolved the inevitable legal disputes. He puts a human face on the deal-making machine while in a book that is accessible and easy to read, with more than a few wry observations of the foibles of those involved.
Gods at War doesn't do what so many "quick to print" crisis books do when they give a truncated overview and some hyperventilated predictions about how the world as we know it is coming to an end. Professor Davidoff understands, and explains, that deals are a feature of the financial landscape, and changes don't occur overnight - but they do occur. 2009 was not the same as 1990, or 1974, the last two times the financial system ground to a halt. His book is well worth reading if you are interested in understanding how we got to where we were, and where we may be headed.
These expectations proved, most unfortunately, unwarranted. The book tries to weave a thread across the chapters but is clumsy in doing so. It may just have been better to make this a collection of columns. Prof Davidoff tries to make a big deal about the influence of "personality" in transactions. But the evidence he provides for this seems that garnered from reading press clippings on deals, not any insider perspective. The book even had the irriting typo here and there. The lack of editing shows in several chapters: Prof Davidoff tells a takeover story in the first half of a chapter (where things do pick up), and then goes on to sort of paraphrase the messages in the second half. Most grating of all was the comparison of why deals fail or not by comparing Microsoft's handling of Yahoo with InBev's of Anheuser Busch: the conclusions may even be correct but yet again the analyses and evidence provided are unconvincing and unoriginal. All in all the impression I'm ultimately left with is the the book is an attempt to cash in on the success of the blog
Davidoff writes vividly and explains the complexity and diversity involved in today's deal making with clarity. He is able to convey technical deal details with proselike fluency that often makes "Gods at War" a real page-turner. He draws convincing fact-based conclusions and is able to foresee upcoming trends from scattered data. He colors his narrative with back-of-the-scene stories on recent transactions.
"Gods at War" is a great read for anyone who is involved in the "deal making machine" or who wants to understand its intricacies. It is especially aimed at lawyers, but other professions will also benefit from its insightful view on the changing corporate world. The book sets the scene for deal making in the 2010's.