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Deal Code Name Challenge

Bankers and lawyers negotiating deals often use code names to prevent press leaks. As the deal economy has grown, they have become an integral part of Wall Street M&A culture. Test your knowledge with our code name quiz.

When it comes to negotiating multibillion-dollar deals, Wall Street can get as covert and secretive as the CIA. Or at least it tries to, though often news of merger talks between companies leaks out before the deal is signed. Media outlets compete fiercely for merger scoops because they are sexy, make for nice headlines, and are in abundant supply since companies are always “talking” to each other and “exploring opportunities.”

Deal negotiations also require making a lot of people privy to highly sensitive information. Bankers, lawyers, company boards and executives, communications folks, and more are all involved.

To lessen the chances of a leak, deal negotiations are often assigned code names. As with covert military operations, the idea is to keep the circle of trust tight and limit the risk of having their cover blown. Some code names slyly hint at the companies involved, others have nothing to do with them at all. But as the deal economy has grown, code names have become an integral part of the Wall Street culture.

Below are the code names used for seven major deals spanning from 2006 to this year. Test your knowledge with our merger code name challenge.

(**all code names and their reason for being used were supplied by sources who were involved in the negotiations but asked not to be named or gleaned from publicly available information.**)

  1. 1. Project Yankees/Braves

    This baseball rivalry served as the code name for the merger of which two former competitors?

    1. AOL/Time Warner
    2. Sears/Kmart
    3. InterContinentalExchange/NYSE Euronext
  2. 2. Project Viper

    Which cross-border deal used this code name in negotiations?

    1. Liberty Global/Virgin Media
    2. Shuanghui/Smithfield Foods
    3. Sanofi-Aventis/Genzyme Corp
  3. 3. Project Dice

    This code name has a double meaning as it relates to the deal for which it was applied.

    1. MGM Grand/Mirage Resorts
    2. Terra Firma/EMI
    3. Yahoo/Tumblr
  4. 4. Project Eagle

    What food industry merger used this code name during negotiations?

    1. Kraft Foods/Cadbury
    2. Berkshire Hathaway-3G Capital/HJ Heinz Co
    3. ConAgra Foods/Ralcorp Holdings
  5. 5. Project Denali

    Which technology industry deal went by this code name?

    1. Hewlett-Packard/Compaq
    2. Silverlake Partners-Michael Dell/Dell
    3. Facebook/Instagram
  6. 6. Project Cider

    This code name was used in merger talks between what two banks?

    1. Bank of New York/Mellon
    2. Wells Fargo/Wachovia Corp
    3. Bank of America/Merrill Lynch
  7. 7. Project Metal

    This code name was used as a sly reference to the stock ticker symbol of one of the companies involved.

    1. Sirius Satellite Radio/XM Satellite Radio
    2. AMR Corp/US Airways Corp
    3. International Paper/Temple-Inland

Answer Key:

7 out of 7: You are an M&A banker, lawyer, or corporate executive.
5-6 out of 7: You are an extremely well-sourced M&A generalist reporter.
3-4 out of 7: You are an investor who follows business news closely.
1-2 out of 7: You sometimes watch Andrew Ross Sorkin and David Faber on CNBC.
0 out of 7: C’mon, even if you were totally guessing odds are you got at least one right.

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