Inarticulate ramblings of a management consultant

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

post acquisition integration

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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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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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 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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Revenue synergies – the last great hope in the justification of paying too much for too little

The announcement this morning of the acquisition of Baxalta by Shire suggests that the wave of pharmaceutical acquisitions is still ongoing. The current market fluctuation may help others to continue their quest in what is probably the largest sector consolidation we’ve seen in a decade or two. The Shire share price reaction is also interesting…a fall of 8% suggests that investors are increasingly concerned that for this specific deal, and […]

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2015 and all that

It’s rare to have a ringside view of events on the global stage where the effect on one’s own part of the world is relatively limited. 2015 has been the year of mergers and acquisitions with whole sectors (pharmaceuticals, cement, beer, oil and gas) going through such a radical overhaul that they have indeed truly changed. In the majority of cases, the case for consolidation has largely been driven by […]

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How would you approach change if employees were given a vote?

A few years ago I was involved in the merger of two UK law firms, one with a focus on London as its main operating base, the other more regional in its operations.  One of the conditions for the deal to go through was 100% approval by the partners. In terms of numbers, we were talking about 124 people. Imagine having a hurdle in a project where, before any implementation […]

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Acquisition in an emerging market – integrating the ‘ways of working’ – an exercise in futility?

The final instalment of this series of blogs, from the perspective of a mythical CEO of a family owned business being acquired by a multinational corporate. It is based on my experience of deals across Asia and is not specific to one particular transaction. If you’d like to read the previous parts (which may make sense as they’re written in chronological order), you can access them here – Due diligence, […]

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An acquisition in an emerging market from the perspective of the acquired CEO – two steps forward?

By popular demand (from the exclusive few that appear to read this blog), this is part 3 of a series based on the experience on a fictional CEO in an emerging market going through an acquisition by a multinational corporate. If you’ve wondered onto this blog by accident, firstly, my sympathies and secondly, it may make some sense to read them in the order that they’ve been written. The link […]

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