Given their frequency, the impact of mergers -- and in particular, how long it really takes to meld two firms into one -- are perennial topics of discussion within the accounting profession.

While there are no hard and fast rules, anecdotal evidence supports the notion that it takes at least a year to gauge the success -- or failure -- of a union. The latter are surely easier to measure. Mergers that fall apart can unravel rather rapidly, although the sorting out of de-merger agreements can sometimes take longer than the original deal itself. When a merger flops, you can be sure both halves of the pact know it.

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