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A conglomerate is a corporation whose multiple business units operate in different, often unrelated, areas.
A conglomerate is generally formed when one company expands by acquiring other firms, which it brings together under a single management umbrella.
In some, but not all, cases, the formerly independent elements of the conglomerate retain their brand identities, though they are responsible to the conglomerate's management.
Some conglomerates are successful, with different parts of the whole contributing the lion's share of the profits in different phases of the economic cycle, offsetting weaker performance by other units.
Other conglomerates are never able to meld the parts into a functioning whole. In those cases, the parent company may sell or spin off various divisions into new independent companies.