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We examine the effects of international and product diversification through mergers and acquisitions (M&As) on the firm's risk–return profile. We identify the rewards from different types of M&As and investigate whether becoming a global firm is a value-enhancing strategy. Drawing on the theoretical work of Vachani (Journal of International Business Studies, 22 (1991), pp. 307−222) and on Rugman and Verbeke's (Journal of International Business Studies, 35 (2004), pp. 3−18) metrics, we classify firms according to their degree of international and product diversification. To account for the endogeneity of M&As, we develop a panel vector autoregression. We find that global and host-region multinational enterprises benefit from cross-border M&As that reinforce their geographical footprint. Cross-industry M&As enhance the risk–return profile of home-region firms. This effect depends on the degree of product diversification. Hence there is no value-enhancing M&A strategy for home-region and bi-regional firms to become ‘truly global’.