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I recently received an offer for a (paid) summer internship at a large, publicly traded company. However, I've noticed that this company is set to be acquired by an even bigger publicly traded company, which will happen before my internship is supposed to start.

If I accept the internship offer with the smaller company, is it legal for the bigger company to cancel my internship? Is it likely that this will happen? Do I have any recourse if they decide to cancel it?

If relevant, I'm a British citizen; both companies are based in the UK.

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    I'm not sure if there is anything different in the UK, but places I have worked it hasn't affected internships. – Kilisi Jan 22 '16 at 19:09
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It will depend on the policies of the companies involved.

I have experienced several acquisitions. In most cases they have not halted hiring, though if the start date was right around the official merger date there could be issues getting the correct benefit package in place. For example if the small company allows interns to earn vacation, and the big company doesn't. The issue of do you earn vacation depends on your exact start date.

I would be worried if the company was being acquired because they were about to go bankrupt. In that case the goal of the company purchasing the small company might be to keep the best parts and shutdown the rest. In that situation your project could disappear.

I would talk to HR or your hiring manager. Current employees will be asking similar questions.

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In large mergers details like summer interns don't come into play. You are much more at risk of your entire department being replaced outright by their counterparts in the other company. If not, things will largely proceed as normal for the first few months.

Once the dust settles and everyone has had a chance to worry about their own jobs, it's appropriate to send a polite email asking your contacts if the merger has any impact on their situations, or on the internships. You'll likely hear "we don't know but you should be fine".

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    I've been through this. Acquisitions and mergers are a process. Unless whole divisions or office locations are shutting down, it can take months for effects to be visited on line-level staff. You'll see a lot of "Pursuing other opportunities" emails from the acquired companies C-level and VPs, but most will go on as before for quite some time. – Wesley Long Jan 22 '16 at 20:02

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