Inarticulate ramblings of a management consultant

the day to day experiences of a consultant operating in weird and wonderful client situations

Mergers & acquisitions

East Goes West – interview with Clement Woon

East Goes West is a series of podcasts focused on the challenge of Asian businesses coming to Europe and the US. Abhay Pande and conducted a series of interview with senior Asian leaders to understand a little more of the cultural complexity that exists across the Asian landscape, recognise the key differences and start to think about what an Asian owner might expect of a European and American  business. The […]

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How does it look from over there? The perspective of Asian buyers / leaders on M&A in Europe and the USA

Over the next six weeks, I will be publishing a series of interviews which I and a friend of mine, Abhay Pande, conducted whilst based in Singapore. These interviews were born of a shared interest and desire to get beyond the myth and legend of Asian corporate culture and business practice and actually get some insights from Asian leaders that we have in our network. The facts are plain enough. […]

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The great unravelling

Dear friends (those of you who have signed up to this blog are almost inevitably that!), it’s been a while and I realise that I have broken the cardinal rule of blogging… that is regular, predictable and interesting pieces of short, concise and opinion filled content! Many of you will know that I and my family have been through a process of ‘re-potting’ as it’s described these days…a return to […]

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Anchoring….a challenge for corporates as it is for individuals?

With many thanks to my good friend, Alastair Campbell, for an impromptu conversation this week, I wanted to raise an interesting issue. Do the principles of anchoring apply to companies as much as they apply to individuals? To remind you, the concept of anchoring is based on the short circuit in our brain which applies a correlation to unrelated facts / opinions and thereby can make us make some assumptions […]

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Three things to think about when preparing your company for a ‘growth by acquisition’ strategy

At the risk of sounding trite, the opportunities for successful acquirers have never been as great as they are now nor the risks higher! The market generally views with suspicion those who would target growth through deals as their primary vehicle (the Valeant and SunEddison story is another in the litany of M&A disasters…see here for my take on it) but for those who do it well, the leverage of […]

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When does a shareholder vote become a distraction rather than a real test of governance?

I’m struck by a couple of transactions in the last 6 months which have some unusual characteristics….and absolutely demonstrate the passive nature of both institutional and retail shareholders these days. The one in particular which I want to look at today is SAB Miller / Anheuser Busch. The announcement of the transaction between SAB Miller and Anheuser-Busch INBEV in the form of the public statement issued on 11th November 2015 […]

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Asian investors -dealing with a new owner?

We are living in a period of reversals….for most of our lives, decisions have been made in the West and implemented (with mixed success) in the East. From outsourcing shared services to the Philippines and South Asia, to banks developing global platforms by buying local and regional businesses across Asia, to the great manufacturing shift to China and more recently to Vietnam, the emphasis on delivery has the remit of […]

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Show me the value…!

Think about a recent acquisition that you were involved in. Having accessed the business in the post completion period, which of the following assets proved to be more valuable: The physical assets: Intellectual property, technology platform, operating infrastructure, plant and equipment, inventory / working capital, cash in the bank. The employee assets: innovators, R&D experts, operations managers, leaders, customer facing relationship managers, sales people, ‘historians’ (those who understood the context […]

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The rise and rise of unsolicited bids…

Dealogic reports that there have been 17 unsolicited bids this year, an unprecedented number since 2008 and a record in terms of value of USD 54.9 billion. How it used to work…  In the old days, the intermediaries of investment banks, brokers, corporate financiers were there to assess an appetite and report back on potential conditions which might make an approach attractive.  In the old days, the raising of finance for […]

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Combining the financial and the strategic…the unholy alliance between Takeda and TPG!

Last week saw the announcement of an attempted bid for Valeant, the serial acquirer masquerading as a pharmaceuticals company at a rather opportunistic time when the firestorm of media attention, debt levels, alleged pricing scandals and CEO ill health threatened to unhinge the business entirely. It’s not a first combination of this type…the acquisition of Boots by Alliance Unichem was financed largely by KKR in a similar sharing of interests. […]

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The love affair between Fintech and financial services – unrequited?

Large consulting firms buying / investing in small specialists Telecommunications giants buying / investing in tiny adtech ventures Banks and insurance companies buying / investing in owner managed fintech businesses Once again we are on the crest of a wave of mergers and acquisitions whereby the very large swallow the very small. I’m not at all confident that we won’t have the same result the last time this happened…in the […]

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Does an org structure tell you anything about influence? Think again…

I’ve posted previously on the futility of the classic organisational structure analysis when it comes to M&A (you’ll find the link here). A good friend and ex-colleague came back to me with an excellent challenge…easy to poke holes in it but what’s the solution? Let me respond and come up with some ideas on how to do this more effectively given the constraints of an M&A process pre announcement, notably:  Limited access to […]

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Left leg in, left leg out…the M&A hokey-cokey as demonstrated by the story of Valeant and SunEdison

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the conditions you might look for as a lead indicator for potentially successful M&A processes (find the article here). This week, the case for the serial acquirer was once again knocked back as the two of the leading proponents for an inorganic growth strategy failed. In SunEdison’s case, filing for bankruptcy whilst for Valeant, the wholesale change of the board and I would […]

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Strategy and integration – the oil and vinegar of any deal

…no matter how much you vigorously combine them, they eventually separate out again. It’s a nice analogy but why? Why is it so hard to successfully translate strategy into integration? Why do those who lead / create strategy well struggle so badly with integration? Why does a set of activities which by their very nature are iterate, continue to be linear? One of the joys of my work is that I meet […]

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M&A – bust as an idea or are we starting to differentiate between those who can and those who can’t?

Has the idea of growth through M&A finally been proven to be fundamentally bust or can we start to differentiate between those that are likely to fail and those that might succeed? Are there indicators which you might look for to identify potential success? I’ve been thinking about what might feature in those indicators….here’s my list: Personal track record of complex transformation (ideally in remedial situations) within the leadership and […]

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Confidence and decision making – the virtuous or vicious cycle of Mergers and Acquisitions

Let me tell you a story about a small professional services business acquisition involving two similar sized businesses operating in related ends of the market. The steering committee for the integration included anyone with a ‘C” in his / her title…the cost from an hourly charge-out rate perspective around the table was considerable as was the intellectual firepower! This was the third meeting of that group and I was somewhat […]

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You want effective communications in an acquisition? Recognise your employees’ perceptions as the actual baseline and own it…simple really!

Anyone you know who hasn’t been through a deal of some kind? I thought not…even those who work in the public sector will have had some strategic transformation thrust upon them. It’s a part of corporate life, whether you’re a senior stakeholder or an entry level employee.…and what has their experience been like, do you think? Positive…’I’ve learned from the experience and my career has been enhanced’ Neutral…’It’s only affected […]

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Deals that don’t complete – the consequences of being left at the ‘altar’

What happens when the deal you’ve been banking on is pulled  “Investors should worry whenever bosses and bankers succumb to deal-fever, since so many corporate transactions end up destroying value. The latest crop has some of the tell-tale signs of danger: high ego, high price and over-confidence.” You’re probably not surprised to hear that this is a quote from the FT…as relevant today as it was when it was written, […]

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The rise of China’s serial acquirers – M&A China style appears to be a ‘non-contact’ sport!

According to Dealogic, 102 outbound Chinese transactions have been announced to date worth USD 81.6 billion up from USD 11.2 billion for the same period last year… Some of them have been truly momentous:  Haier’s intention to acquire the GE Appliance business, a business which is steeped in American corporate history. ChemChina’s bid for Syngenta, the sheer size of which is eye popping at USD 48 billion. HNA Group’s bid for […]

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Where does effective post acquisition integration start? In the boardroom or on the office floor…

One of my reading obsessions for the last couple of years has been the subject of behavioural economics. A key finding (from the psychology arm of the science) is the concept of ‘unconscious bias’;  the idea that despite the contention from a rational perspective that we are not biased, the evidence suggests that we are influenced by colour and race in our decisions and inclinations. There’s a good short video on […]

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