Forget About Dre: Son Drops the Mic When It Comes to M&A Gaffes

(Bloomberg) -- Masayoshi Son’s early reveal of a Walmart Inc. deal on Wednesday isn’t the first accidental M&A announcement. But it might be the biggest.

Softbank Group Corp.’s chief executive officer told a roomful of reporters and investors that the retailer had sealed a deal for Flipkart Group, hours before the $16 billion transaction was officially announced.

“Maybe I should have not mentioned that,” Son said while discussing earnings in Tokyo, according to a transcript compiled by Bloomberg. “Well, I can’t take it out.”

Walmart’s Next Steps After Buying India’s Flipkart

To be fair, the talks were far from secret. Bloomberg reported in February that India’s biggest online seller was seeking a valuation as high as $20 billion.

But his slip-up still ranks as one of the strangest -- and biggest -- bungled merger announcements ever. Here are some others.

  • In 2014, a friend of hip-hop artist Dr. Dre posted a video online of the two celebrating his deal to sell headphone maker Beats Electronics to (notoriously secretive) Apple Inc. for about $3 billion. The problem? The video dropped about a week before the deal was announced. “The first billionaire in hip hop, right here,” Dr. Dre says in the clip, which went viral before it was swiftly removed from Facebook.
  • In October, First Data Corp. accidentally sort-of announced its $760 million deal for payments processor BluePay Holdings Inc. a day early, after a “draft news release inadvertently was posted briefly,” to its website. While talks were underway, no deal had yet been finalized and a conference call mentioned in the release was canceled.
  • We may never know which company Twitter Inc.’s then-finance chief Anthony Noto was talking about when, in 2014, he sent a public tweet that was (presumably) meant to be a direct message. “I still think we should buy them,” he wrote to his thousands of followers. The tweet was deleted, but Twitter has made several small acquisitions since, including video streaming app Periscope in 2015.

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