Inarticulate ramblings of a management consultant

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

Strategy

East goes West – Interview with Martin Lau, Managing Partner, First State Stewart

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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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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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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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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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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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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Sponsorship – comes in many shapes and sizes

A few years ago when I was contemplating the opportunity to come to Asia and going through a rather tortuous International Mobility exercise (which seemed full of process but lacked any sense of progress), a colleague whispered to me the secret of all such moves….’sponsorship’. Find a sponsor, he said, one who has money and influence, and all the obstacles you’re currently facing through the ‘official’ processes will magically disappear! […]

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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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Fixing the irrevocably broken – creating an organisational structure which can thrive in a world of disruptive innovation

With thanks to Toby Tester and following from my blog last week (click here to read it if you’ve unwittingly stumbled upon this random collection of thoughts), here is the exam question for the week: What does an ideal organisational structure look like to cope with the challenges of today’s working environment? Let me first try and define what I envisage as an ‘ideal’ structure with a series of questions: […]

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The real impact of disruptive innovation – fundamentally changing the future structure of organisations

Disruption is the new buzz word in business these days. There are still some organisations and sectors which resist the concept that, somewhere, in the minds of a consumer or an employee, there is an idea which will change their industry for ever….but largely, there is a surface level of acceptance. The real change behind disruption however is much more subtle, disturbing and has the potential to change the corporate […]

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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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The uncomfortable reality for CEOs today – the ‘incremental’ growth strategy is no longer acceptable

Everywhere you look these days, seismic shifts are taking place. Whether it is in: the burgeoning M&A marketplace where whole sectors are undergoing the sort of change that used to be once in a generation, or major established organisations declaring transformational intent which is nothing short of revolutionary (for employees, shareholders and analysts) or CEOs, imbued with the private equity spirit, are embarking on radical performance improvement within companies or […]

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The latest corporate card trick! Going from manufacturing to services in one simple step…

A friend of mine raised an interesting issue with regard to a major global and high respected ex employer of his. This business has recently declared a strategic intent to move from manufacturing as its core activity (and one for which it is justifiably famous) to becoming a services organisation. This is not unusual…just today there was an announcement in the FT about a similar path for another manufacturer in […]

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The cost of capital is less than the cost of innovation…a remarkable shift in the world of M&A

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6aad8ebe-e9c0-11e4-b863-00144feab7de.html#axzz3YTZwnnI3 The attached article from the FT provides a good insight into a remarkable change in the levels of activity in M&A, particularly in pharmaceuticals ($468 billion of transactions announced in 2015, an almost unprecedented rise and certainly the most significant increase since before the global financial crisis). A frenzy of activity therefore, some of which may be driven by not wishing to be left out rather than a solid […]

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More evidence of the link between culture and M&A success

Many of you will already be aware of my focus on culture in M&A and it seems that it’s becoming more mainstream to talk about these matters.. Note the recent commentary in the FT on Holcim and Lafarge which tries to downplay the cultural dimensions…perhaps part of the problem is a blind acceptance in the media around business case as opposed to delivery capability! http://www.ft.com/cms/s/3/d1cc9938-cbec-11e4-beca-00144feab7de.html#axzz3UcoE3fgH The article below is a […]

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The project based organisation

Following on from my blog last week, I’ve had a few conversations with colleagues around the ‘projectisation’ of corporations, a ugly but appropriate phrase which Thomas Martin uses to explain the next stage in corporate development. If you remember, what I tried to address was the perfect storm convergence of a disengaged and therefore unproductive workforce, a increasing pace of change and a significant uplift in complexity. So, how to deal with […]

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