Can journalists make or break a deal?
Andrew Ross Sorkin is The New York Times’s chief mergers and acquisitions reporter and a columnist. He is also the author of the 2009 book, "Too Big To Fail." Mr. Sorkin, a leading voice about Wall Street and corporate America, is also the editor of DealBook, an online daily financial report he started in 2001. In addition, Mr. Sorkin is an assistant editor of business and finance news, helping guide and shape the paper’s coverage.Mr. Sorkin, who has appeared on NBC's “Today” show and on “Charlie Rose” on PBS, is a frequent guest host of CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” He won a Gerald Loeb Award, the highest honor in business journalism, in 2004 for breaking news. He also won a Society of American Business Editors and Writers Award for breaking news in 2005 and again in 2006. In 2007, the World Economic Forum named him a Young Global Leader. Mr. Sorkin began writing for The Times in 1995 under unusual circumstances: he hadn’t yet graduated from high school. Mr. Sorkin lives in Manhattan.
Andrew Ross Sorkin: You ask a very good question because there's part of me that feels everyday that maybe what I do is completely irrelevant. The deal is going to happen. Whether I exist or not and whether we break the story on a Sunday, it's going to get announced on a Monday anyway. But at the same time, I like to think that we play an important role in all of this, in part, because we do break news in advance of stories. Sometimes that actually changes the deal completely. A great example of that actually, we were talking about Alcatel-Lucent before. You know, Alcatel and Lucent recently merged about a year and a half ago. But they tried to merge in 2001. Maybe it's 2001/2002 and that is a deal that we broke, probably two or three weeks before they were planning to announce the deal.
And in fact the deal did not happen in part because it couldn’t withstand the news and in part because shareholders and investors actually saw the news and said you know, huh uh, this is not such a great deal and I think, put enough pressure on the boards of both companies frankly, to disband that deal. Now they did come together on very different terms several years later. But that's just an instance sort of, of where breaking a deal early in the papers actually moves the needle. But beyond you know, just breaking a deal, I think part of my job is explaining the deal, explaining the machinations of why these deals are happening because it's really much more than just the numbers. It's really the people and the personalities that make these deals happen.
You can talk about sort of the synergies and the savings and how much money they're going to make or how much money they're going to lose. But at base, oftentimes it's about, you know, how many years has the CEO actually been in the job? Is he actually friends with the board? Do they want him out? Do they not want him out? You know, are his stock options vested at this point? You know, there's lots of other dynamics and issues that make these stories and make these deals come together. And to the extent that I can sort of shed light on that and try to peel back the curtain so people can see how this whole little deal machine works, hopefully I've done my job.
Recorded on: June 3, 2008
They break news in advance of stories that can help or harm the deal.
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