This year’s breakups may forge next year’s marriages.

Already 166 companies -- from computer maker Hewlett- Packard Co. and EBay Inc. to mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd. -- announced plans this year to spin off business units to shareholders. That’s one for every other day of the year. In the U.S., the number of spinoffs is on pace for a record. Companies also struck $2.3 trillion of mergers and acquisitions worldwide, a seven-year high.

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