So why do so many deals—especially those that appear to offer substantial cost and revenue synergies – produce such disappointing results?

Following a merger, management is under intense pressure to address challenges such as defining integration priorities and quickly identifying and capturing synergies. In addition, special attention has to be paid to addressing cultural change and controlling business risk in the new organization.

key considerations

What is the best way to quickly realize the strategic objectives of the merger?

What must be integrated quickly and drawn down on synergies?

How to best integrate two different cultures and deal with conflicts between them?

How to retain key talent during and beyond the integration process?

How to keep employees focused on business and customers during the integration process?

A merger that is driven primarily by cost synergies will require a very different approach than on in which revenue growth is the main goal.

In reality, relatively few mergers are exclusively about either consolidation or growth. Most are a complex hybrid of the two. Although the dominant strategic source of value will define the overarching style and speed of the integration, a more granular approach will be required, reflecting the mix of cost and revenue synergies.

Important Factors

It is widely known that roughly half of all mergers and acquisitions (M&As) fail to create shareholder value and that about one-quarter actually destroy it. It is also no secret that there are tried and tested methodologies for successfully integrating companies.

Interpretation of the Process

Companies tend to treat merger integration as a mechanical process that occurs after the deal is done.

Underestimate the Complexity

Most companies underestimate the complexity of merger integration, and as a result often make two key mistakes:

  • They delegate responsibility for the integration too far down the organizational hierarchy.
  • They try to fold the managerial tasks associated with an integration into the existing management practices and processes of the company.

Embrace the Change

Executives assume that logic and facts will win the day: communicate the strategic rationale of the merger and most employees will see the light and throw their weight behind it.

But integration is quintessentially about change, and change is an intensely personal and emotional experience.

Integration Team

Successfully executing integration requires best-practice management in time compression, especially when cost synergies are paramount. And this demands not only topflight senior leadership but also a dedicated integration team.

Know Both Sides

Cultural differences between the two companies invariably add to the emotional cauldron, sometimes with explosive effect.

Understanding the cultural differences between the two companies – how their beliefs, behaviors, and expectations differ – is an essential foundation for developing an effective, targeted integration strategy.

How these “softer” human issues are managed is arguably the most decisive factor in the integration.