Fueled by significant merger and acquisition activity in the fourth quarter of 2004, Wall Street is predicting a merger boom in 2005. Just a few recent transactions included Oracle's $10.3 billion offer for PeopleSoft, IBM selling its personal computer business to Lenovo of China for $1.75 billion, Symantec's acquisition of Veritas for $13.5 billion and Sprint's purchase of Nextel Communications for $35 billion. There are bound to be more to come, with a return to confidence in the economy and significant competitiveness in various industries. How do you know whether your company is on the block, intended to become a merger or acquisition candidate? There are several clues, if you pay attention to them. Here are my top ten ways, in true David Letterman style, to determine if your company is destined to be yet another merger or acquisition candidate.

10. At the annual stockholders meeting, the chairman of your company's Board of Directors just nods when the perennial dissident shareholder voices his/her complaints. Every public company has one - a stockholder who can be counted on to complain about everything the company does (or doesn't do) at its stockholders meeting. Usually the complaints elicit responses that range from denial to outrage; when the response is noncommittal, watch out! It could signify the Board has other things to think about (such as a merger).

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