It has become axiomatic that too high a percentage of mergers are ill-conceived and poorly executed. At the outset there is bullish talk of synergies, combined strengths and market share, only for senior executives to acknowledge, a few years later, that very few of the benefits were realised. Often, as one academic remarked recently, CEOs take credit for successful mergers but blame failures on culture.
HR must share responsibility for this. It has a critical role to play in the identification, due diligence and integration phases of M&A. Early participation of HR professionals is needed to identify critical talent or capabilities in the market that support the strategic development of the company. HR needs to scan and understand the market, helping to build a strong business case, working to successfully integrate acquisitions and, critically, identifying any features of both organisational cultures that might cause problems down the line.
The Covid-19 crisis may have delayed, but has not resolved, these issues. A recent survey by the US M&A Council indicated that 51% of companies anticipated pausing their M&A activity as a result of the ‘lock down’ period.
However, the data reveals an encouraging counter-intuitive growth strategy for those companies prepared to turn crisis into opportunity. Periods of economic volatility generally lead to increased consolidation or restructuring and hence higher levels of M&A activity, with higher potential returns for those who move quickly. Almost 50% of respondents indicated that they will pursue opportunistic acquisitions and almost 25% will target entirely new, non-core technologies during the coming year.
Commentators assert that Covid-19 is leading to a more vigilant approach to mergers. There will be more caution in valuations, financing will be heavily vetted, due diligence will be more complex in trying to understand Covid-19 risks, and specific indemnities will be sought. M&A timescales will therefore be longer and the risks greater.
Our research report and meeting will support you in reviewing your company’s M&A approach in its search to exploit great value assets. We will hear from Salvatore Cantale on the drivers of M&A and the sources of strategic competitive advantage, from brand acquisition and market share to talent acquisition and enhancing digital capability. We will explore case studies with senior HR practitioners who have been central to their company’s growth through acquisition and will examine how the post Covid-19 environment might change some of the M&A assessments.
All of the above will help you as HR professionals navigate the complicated world of M&A and optimise value creation for your organisation.
Professor of Finance, IMD Business School
Salvatore Cantale is Professor of Finance at IMD. His major research and consulting interests are in value creation, valuation, and the way in which corporations structure liabilities and choose financing options. Before joining IMD, Salvatore was an analyst with a large investment bank in London, and held other academic posts with US business schools. He currently serves as advisor at Tulane University, Louisiana. Salvatore holds a BA in Economics and Finance from Universita’ di Catania, Italy, a Master’s Degree in Management and a PhD in Finance from INSEAD.
Daniel Cloke held senior HR Director roles for over 25-years in a variety of industries undergoing change. He has substantial experience of mergers, acquisitions, and disposals for global companies. Most recently as Group HR and Internal Comms. Director for GVC Holdings PLC, where he led the integration of Ladbrokes and Gala Coral. Daniel now works as an independent consultant with a range of UK and multi-national clients.
Senior International HR Manager, ABN AMRO
George Goudriaan is a senior international HR manager at ABN AMRO Bank NV, where he is the HR Workstream lead of the bank’s Corporate Development activities. George also acts as interim country HR manager in various countries of ABN AMRO. For the past two years George has been heading the German HR operations in Frankfurt. Another part of his job is being a member of the Supervisory Board of the Dutch ABN AMRO Pension Plan. Before joining Human Resources, George worked as a Private Banker, followed by a role as Business Manager, expanding the bank’s global Corporate Banking footprint. As a long standing employee of ABN AMRO, George knows all aspects of the banking business and is now a passionate HR leader who enjoys working on projects that relate to organisational design and continuous improvement of the bank and its employees. George holds a Master’s Degree in International Business Administration from Erasmus University, Rotterdam.
Dr. Carmen von Rohr
Content & Digital Manager, Corporate Research Forum
Dr. Carmen von Rohr is a sociologist with extensive research and learning design experience. She began her career as a digital learning designer in higher education at Cengage Learning before joining CRF in 2018 to contribute to research and learning content.