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Notable Acquisitions, Bidding Wars, and Breakups of 2021

Kansas City Southern Trains Ahead Of Earnings Figures

Photographer: Whitney Curtis/Bloomberg

The year 2021 topped all records for dealmaking. Here’s a look at the most notable mergers, acquisitions, breakups, and corporate battles of a very busy 12 months.

General Electric Co. sold its jet-leasing business to AerCap Holdings NV for $30 billion, and Canadian media giant Rogers Communications Inc. agreed to buy rival Shaw Communications Inc. A battle for control of Kansas City Southern began when the railroad agreed to combine with Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., prompting a counteroffer from rival Canadian National Railway Co. CP won—but not until September.
AT&T Inc. decided to spin off its media assets—most of which it bought way back in 2018—and merge them with Discovery Inc. It turned out to be the biggest deal of the year.
Another bidding war kicked off when U.K. chain Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc accepted an $8.7 billion bid from Fortress Investment Group. It took three more months for rival bidder Clayton, Dubilier & Rice to emerge victorious.
U.S. payment company Square (now Block Inc.) agreed to acquire “buy now, pay later” lender Afterpay Ltd. for $29 billion in the biggest deal ever for an Australian company.
PayPal Holdings Inc. grabbed headlines by considering (then deciding against) a $45 billion bid for social media company Pinterest Inc. In a record European real estate deal, Vonovia SE purchased Deutsche Wohnen SE. Soccer club Newcastle United got a new owner: Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.
General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, and Toshiba Corp. all announced plans to carve themselves up.