In the late 1950s, merger activity was creating a febrile mood in British business and in the wider community. Amalgamations and acquisitions were not new to the scene - historians have underestimated their importance in the inter-war period, for example-and the volume and market value of mergers would also reach significantly higher levels in the 1960s.1 For the business world in the 1950s, however, merger activity was reviving significantly for the first time for more than 20 years. That activity also contained the heady new ingredient of the contested takeover, with one or more companies bidding for an unwilling target company. Although less than 20 per cent of mergers in British manufacturing industry were contested in the 1950s and 1960s, even the possibility of a disputed bid introduced a new awareness of threat and a concern for self-preservation.