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Takeovers, mergers and acquisitions – avoid these common mistakes and thrive


The easiest task in management is buying another business – you only need to identify the acquisition target, work out how much you want to pay, and make your offer.

True, complications may follow. The other party may resist, forcing you into a costly takeover battle. Investors may not take kindly to the proposal. But since some investors (those in the target business) will benefit, you will not be acting in a uniformly hostile climate. Like BMW buying Rover, or Daimler-Benz buying Chrysler, or Ford buying Volvo cars, you can hope to complete the transaction to general hosannas.

As the BMW-Rover case has shown so dramatically, the cheering can soon change to jeering. BMW has invested £2.8 billion in a business which at last report was losing £360,000 annually. Doing the deal, the easy part, leads directly into making the merger or acquisition work, which can be very hard indeed. The difficulty starts with the strategic objective. Why do you want the other business in the first place? If the objective is wrongly chosen, the next logical question, whether the chosen purchase will help to achieve that aim, is irrelevant. The deal is bound to fail.

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