According to my dictionary rentiers are defined as:
What's the relevance? It's this:
That came from the Guardian website a few minutes ago. It reminded me of something I read overnight, from US economist Dean Baker:
The pharmaceutical industry ... benefits from enormous rents through government granted patent monopolies. We spend more than $380 billion (2.2 percent of GDP) a year on drugs. We would spend 10 to 20 percent of this amount in a free market. We would not only have cheaper drugs, but likely better medicine if we funded research upfront instead of through patent monopolies since it would eliminate incentives to lie about research findings and conceal them from other researchers.
I have no idea if the ratios Baker (who I consider wholly reputable) are right, but I have a very strong suspicion that they are. His logic on this issue also sits comfortably, I think, with Mariana Mazzucato's 'Entrepreneurial State'.
The real plus for society regarding these companies would be that their hold on our well being be reduced. The reality is that we are letting them concentrate it, not least through their ability to extract excess profits long after they can be justified through the operation of state enforced patents.
That's where the rentier reference comes in. These mergers represent the continuing rise of rentier capitalism; the very sort that adds little value to society but ensures wealth flows to those who control it.