What’s the difference between a merger and an acquisition?

A merger is usually a “merger-of-equals” between two similarly sized companies and it’s presented as more cooperative. An acquisition is usually done in a straightforward way and it’s clear who the acquiror is right away as the acquiror is often materially larger than the target. A stock deal is more common in a merger, where shareholders of both companies will exchange their old shares for new shares in the combined company.