Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) can increase shareholder value, significantly. One reason is that those doing the taking over wring costs out of both entities. A prime tactic for pulling that off is cutting loose a lot of the manpower.
Therefore, if activist shareholder Jeffrey Smith of Starboard Value achieves his goal of having Yahoo acquire AOL, leadership should worry. At both Yahoo and AOL. So should every level of the workforce.
No one at the acquirer is necessarily sitting pretty. For example, when AOL took over Huffington Post (HP), it was a major reduction in force (RIF) at AOL throughout communications units. Some of them, such as Careers and Jobs (C&J), were redundant with what HP already had going strong. I had been a contract blogger at AOL's C&J.
America's brand of capitalism currently is focused on enhancing shareholder value. If shareholders are persuaded that there's plenty in it for them in a Yahoo takover of AOL, they will rally behind Smith. All bets are off who will hold onto their positions at both companies.