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The history of mergers and acquisitions is filled with ruthless corporate raiders, bruising wars of words and people trying to stiff one another.

T. Boone Pickens, the oil tycoon who rampaged through the 1980s, took small stakes in energy companies, attacked management and forced sales of the firms. Carl Icahn, the activist investor, amassed shares of companies and threatened to oust their boards if they did not agree to a deal. And Robert Campeau, the Canadian real estate investor known for engineering buyouts, was unafraid to take legal action against companies that sought to deflect his advances.

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