Almost every empirical study of the value of takeovers indicates that overall there is no gain; the acquirer doesn’t benefit and the overall economy usually loses out. The only ones who gain are the shareholders of the acquired company, and in cases like the Tomkins sell out currently going through, its top management whose pay off is really nothing more or less than a bribe. This is in contrast with ordinary employees who usually face an immediate cull as well as a long term loss.
The hero of the free market philosophy is surely the entrepreneur, the one who has the entrepreneurial spirit to start from small beginnings and build something not only with their own sweat, blood and creativity, but also by putting their own money at risk. They control and own. Most of them fail but a few succeed and go on to greater things, giving employment to large numbers and addressing some want or need in a uniquely satisfying way which assures their success. That is the free market hero; and socialism’s arch villain.
“The directors of … companies, being the managers of other people’s money rather than their own, it cannot well be expected, that they should watch over it with the same anxious vigilance … Negligence and profusion must always prevail … in the management of the affairs of such a company.” So wrote Adam Smith 250 years ago. And that remains a core concept in the right wing free market fundamentalism that drives us today.