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Biggest Business Transactions


Ever since the industrial age began, companies have been subject to being bought and sold in huge deals worth millions of dollars. However, it’s hard to judge how major deals of the past stack up to today’s tech mega deals unless you convert the financial terms into today’s dollars. Here’s a look at exactly how much money many of the major deals of the past couple centuries were worth.

In one of the first mega deals in history, the British India Company purchased their rival English Company Trading to the East Indies for $51.7 million in today’s money and formed the United Company of Merchants of England Trading to the East Indies, known informally as the East India Company. This 1708 deal was sealed with a 3.2 million pound loan to the government for exclusive rights to British trade in India, or around $722 million USD today.

At the turn of the twentieth century, entrepreneurs jumped on the opportunity to merge companies in the soon-to-be giant steel and motor industries. In 1901, U.S. Steel was founded as a merger of the Carnegie Steel Company, the Federal Steel Company, and the National Steel Company for $13.95 billion in USD today. Eight years later, General Motors purchased Cadillac for $4.75 million, or $1.21 billion in today’s money, an impressive sum until you compare it to a 1998 deal in which Daimler-Benz bought Chrysler for today’s equivalent of $52 billion.

The food and beverage industries have also seen impactful mergers. In 1960, beverage giant Coca Cola purchased Minute Maid for $562.6 million in today’s money. And in 2008, InBev acquired Anheuser-Busch for $60.8 billion, which amounts to $67 billion in 2014.

The tech giants began battling for supremacy towards the end of the 21st century. In 2000, America Online acquired TimeWarner for $186.2 billion, or $257.84 billion in 2014, making it the biggest tech acquisition at the time. In 2001, Hewlett-Packard acquired Compaq for today’s $46 billion, and Comcast acquired AT&T Broadband for today’s $102 billion.

Google has had their hand in a fair share of deals over the years, as has Facebook. In 2005, Google purchased Android mobile OS for the equivalent of $61.23 million today, and they followed that up the next year by buying YouTube for $2 billion in today’s money. More recently, in 2011 Google acquired Motorola Mobility for $13 billion in today’s money, and this year they also acquired Nest for $3.2 billion. Facebook made its first major deal in 2012 when it acquired Instagram for $1 billion. They were also active in 2014, buying the VR system Oculus Rift for $2 billion and WhatsApp for $19 billion.

However, all of these deals dwarf in comparison to the 1999 Vodafone and Mannesmann merger, in which Vodafone acquired Mannesmann for $185.1 billion, which is the equivalent of $258.07 billion today and thus the largest business deal in history. This transaction also created the largest mobile phone operator at the time, with over 42 million customers spread across Europe in 2000.

When it comes to big names and big deals, many people would be quick to point to the Exxon-Mobil or recent Comcast-Time Warner deal as the largest business transactions in history; however, in reality, the Vodafone-Mannesmann deal takes the cake with its current day value of nearly $258 billion, cementing its place in history until the next big deal comes along.