Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) is the area of corporate finances, management and strategy dealing with purchasing and/or joining with other companies. In a merger, two organizations join forces to become a new business, usually with a new name. Because the companies involved are typically of similar size and stature, the term "merger of equals" is sometimes used.
In an acquisition, on the other hand, one business buys a second and generally smaller company which may be absorbed into the parent organization or run as a subsidiary. A company under consideration by another organization for a merger or acquisition is sometimes referred to as the target.