Pac Man defence-a better name please

This may seem like an odd post to put on this part of this esteemed site, but please stick with me and all will become clear..

I am currently being taught the theory of Mergers and Acquisitions, which in certain elements of its' strategic nature borrows much from the military world, certainly my lecturer spends a great deal of time relating it to medieval fortifications and marauding Armies.

Anyway, when discussing defensive techniques available to a company that finds itself the target of a hostile bid, one option is to launch a hostile bid back, i.e. when their management is focussed on acquiring your shares, go behind them to their shareholders and buy them up yourself.

He said that this is termed (obviously coined in the states) a Pac-Man defence after the 1980's computer game where this :D thing ate his way around the screen but was vulnerable to being attacked from behind. My immediate thought was what a cr*p name when there are military examples of a protagonist on the defence manouvring to wrap up the opponent whilst he still believes himself on the offensive. Unfortunately off the top of my head at the time I could not think of a suitable example to give him.

I therefore ask for your help in identifying the best example of this particular method of turning defence into attack with which to astound said lecturer.


How about our Jewish chums in 1967?

It does all smack of 'blitzkrieg' and France 1940, going to cut the supply (the shareholders) rather than hitting everything head on.
The opening scenes of "Gladiator"......? I'm not sure if that was modelled on a real battle, but at least a bunch of civvies might be able to relate to it...

There have been a stack of ancient and medieval battles where army A, under heavy assault from army B, has sent a flanking force to start slaughtering army B's camp followers and wagon train, thus causing army B to turn about and disintegrate...... but I'm getting senile and can't remember any of them at the moment....
Two up and bags of smoke?
Uh... a basic flanking? Applying one's mass to the enemies weakest point? Envelopment?
Many thanks for all of your thoughts.

I think Cannae has it due to Hannibal's initial defensive posture enticing the Romans to exploit their percieved successful offensive action only to wrap them up with the envelopment.

Anyway a Cannae defense sounds pretty good.....certainly better than a Pac-Man defense.
Didn't we do it in the Gulf (one that is), ie go in to Iraq not Kuwait.
I am not a great fan of using military analogies in business. Strategy and tactics are areas where conventional warfare and business methiods are rather different.

However, the essence of the Pac man defence is that the target of an aquisition turns and makes a bid for its would be owner. Its not somethign that has a geometric dimension like the horms of the buffalo or Blitzkreig , which is all about tempo.

Pacman is a kind of ambush that features in aerial, armoured and naval warfare warfare where the hunted run to a larger number of friends and turn defence into attack.

The best historic example might be the Battle of Jutland where the Beaty chases Hipper's Battle Cruiser onto Scheer's High Seas Feet, which is then led onto the guns of Jellico's Grand Fleet. Alan Moreheasd the journalist called the German armoured tactics of leading British tanks into an Anti Tank ambuish as "Big Brother" tactic.

But if you need to explain lots about the military history its not a very good analogy anyway!

(It was fashionable in the 1980s to use milirtary analogies. One major marketign text book spouted military analogies with claims that positional defence was a bad thing and mobile defence a good thing. Personally I think business would do better by learning leadership and man management from the armed forces and the armed forces would do better looking at business for hearts and minds)
Another good example is the typical tactic of Mongol armies. They would entice the enemy into believing he was attacking the Mongol main force, which would feign a retreat and draw the enemy into the killing area. The real main force would envelop from both flanks and then the decoy force would turn about and join in the slaughter.

I have to admit, though, that the Cannae Defence sounds better than the Mongol Defence. On the other hand, the Genghis Khan Defence has a certain ring to it. :twisted:


Book Reviewer
Three campaigns cross my mind:

1. Kursk. IIRC The Germans launch an offensive to straighten the front and the Russians counter-attack from the flanks.

2. Falaise Pocket / Mortain Offensive. The Allies push to encircle the German troops trying to withdraw to the Seine while Hitler orders fresh troops to push the Americans back to Cherbourg.

3. The Schlieffen Plan as modified by Moeltke. Schlieffen's plan required a heavyweight hammerhead on the right, coastal flank through Flanders wheeling around on the end of a thin line wich just has to conform while the French are obliged to react to the hammerhead. Hammer swings round the back of Paris encircling ... just about everybody, the French sue for peace and the German troops entrain across to their Eastern Front within six weeks of outbreak to face the Russians whose poor railway system means they haven't finished mobilising over their arrse rail network. But Moeltke, worried about the light weight of the hammer handle, strengthens it at the expense of the hammerhead, which now falls short of Paris and, with the Allied left flank less threatened, counterattack on THEIR right flank against the Germans' still-weaker left flank to fill the vacuum created. I have seen this described as the Revolving Door: as one person pushes on one end, the other person pushes in the opposite direction on the oether. To be found described in Light Dragoons by Allan Mallinson.
Point well made Pteranadon, but I assume you sit where I aspire to be, within the business world with the benefit of military experience and therefore well able to see the limitations of attempting to draw parallels between business and military strategy. The majority in business do not however have the benefit of military experience but posses a hubris that is satisfied by equating their business dealings to the stategies of history's great generals. The lecturer concerned certainly falls into this category having entered academia after a successful career in M+A and being a history buff, hence my use of the combined Arrse knowledge for some shameless brown nosing.

By the way for those interested, I brought up Cannae as a suitable substitute, which he agreed was far better. He did however justify PacMan's original selection thus:

"The term was coined in the US in the 1980's where the majority of Analysts and Associates working in M+A would not have had a clue about the major battles of history. They did however play a lot of computer games and therefore immediately understood the imagery."

A depressing assessment of what must now be some of the world's richest men.

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