1. A transaction in which one corporate entity is combined with another corporate entity. A variety of types of transactions are possible, the most common being the "triangular" merger whereby one corporation ("Buyer") creates a subsidiary ("Merger Sub") into which the other corporation ("Target") is combined, thereby creating a single corporation. A wave of mergers occurred in the 1980s due to the loosening of regulations by the Reagan administration. A similar boom occurred in the late 1990s, and, thus far, a wave of mergers in 2005 suggests that it will be another huge year of corporate combinations. Mergers create corporations with annoying, nonsensical names like "AOL Time Warner," and "JPMorganChase" and "PriceWaterHouseCoopers." Frequently, corporations fail to realize any additional profit from these transactions, despite many workers losing their jobs due to the supposed "efficiencies" created.
2. A transaction performed by the cockiest, least self-aware, obnoxious assholes in the worlds of investment banking and law. The area of expertise in which one performs mergers is known as "Mergers and Acquisitions" or "M&A."
Corporate Asshole 1: Hey man, what you been up to at the office?
Corporate Asshole 2: Inhaling deeply, cocking head to the side, wiping coke off of nose I'm working on this new merger. I can't tell you anything about it, but dude, this is gonna be huge.
Corporate Asshole 1: Sweet. Dude, have you heard this new band called the Killers? They are so awesome.
Corporate Asshole 2: Yeah, they rock. When you getting off work?
Corporate Asshole 1: Probably 2 a.m. After that, I'm going to Lemon Bar.