Mergers have destroyed billions of dollars in shareholder value because acquirers failed to anticipate the need to improve performance after closing a deal.

That's the premise of a new book by Mark L. Sirower, who teaches business strategy and competitive analysis at New York University's Stern Business School. "The Synergy Trap," published by Simon & Schuster, details research on a sample of major acquisitions from 1979 through 1990.

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