More listed companies are buying their competitors rather than investing in growing their business internally. The number of publicly listed companies traded on U.S. exchanges has been cut in half in the past 20 years -- from about 7,300 to 3,700. According to the World Bank, the number of listed companies on all global exchanges -- currently 44,000 -- has flatlined since 2006, with a recent two-year decline.
Buying competitors - i.e., getting rid of competition - usually doesn't improve the company's growth although it may enable them to increase prices, as in healthcare. What often happens is layoffs, shutdowns, product consolidations, etc. The only certainty is that management does well by the transaction.