“Synergistic value,” noun phrase, the non-existent benefits that an investment banker attempts to convince a client will arise from any fee-generating behavior. Usage note: Although he might jazz up his appearance with a Kiton suit, Brioni tie, and Edward Green monk strap shoes, the M&A i-banker is really just a salesman. In his pitches, he’ll talk about strange-sounding things like enterprise value (“EV”), earnings per share dilution, net operating losses (“NOLs”), and debt leverage instead of miles per gallon, accident history, rust-proofing, and lease payments, but he’s not that different from a used car salesman. They both want you to buy something, and then they want to help you finance it.
So when the banker is feeling pressure to produce some revenue just about any acquisition has synergistic value. He might brag about having pitched Pepsi’s (ticker PEP) Frito-Lay subsidiary on buying the Colorado Harvest Company because stoners get hankerings for Dorito’s, Cheeto’s, and Lay’s. Or he might mention at happy hour that he told the CEO of Auto Zone (ticker AZO) to try to pry Victoria’s Secret away from L Brands (ticker LB) because AZO’s customers buy a lot of lingerie on Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and birthdays. The synergistic transaction he won’t tell you about is Daimler AG’s (the former Daimler-Benz AG) disastrous purchase of Chrysler back in 1998. The economies just never materialized on that one, and, in some versions of this ugly tale, Daimler paid almost $1 billion to unload Chrysler. So to future CEOs and CFOs everywhere: When your trusted banker tells you that you should take over your somewhat smaller competitor because “the transaction’s synergistic value is compelling,” tell him you need to wrap up the meeting for your root canal procedure.