David Anderson, Partner at Crowe Clark Whitehill, the national audit, tax and business advisory firm with offices in Cheltenham, advises on making your next acquisition a success.
With a revival in corporate activity on the horizon, the sound advice of one of my former clients comes to mind. He once said that a successful acquisition focuses on 'winning the peace following the transaction', rather than 'winning the war during the transaction'. I'm sure this sentiment rings true for all those who have ever been involved in an acquisition.
I read recently that between 70 and 90 per cent of all mergers and acquisitions are doomed to failure. With this in mind, what can be done to minimise the risk of failure and improve the chances of making your next acquisition a success?
The first and most important step is to analyse and understand the reasoning behind the acquisition. What is the motivation for the deal? Is the business looking to acquire additional resources or is it looking for a different business model?
Once you have the answered these questions - which are deceptively simple and yet worth the effort - you can assess potential targets and develop a plan for executing the deal.
Due diligence will of course feature as part of this plan, but aside from the usual legal, financial and tax aspects, a few other matters are worth considering.
If you have a "one-stop shop" rationale and the motivation for the deal is to expand your product range, ask yourself whether new customers will need or want to buy these products at the same time and in the same place. Do your sales staff have the necessary skills to sell the acquired company's products and, of course, vice versa. Finally, be honest about who has the stronger personal skill sets. Within people businesses, such as professional practices, in my experience an attitude of 'acquirer' and 'acquiree' rarely adds value.
The two main deal drivers are the pursuit of additional resources or a new business model. Targeting resources propels most M&A activity by professional practices. Resources and business models are very different and will require a fundamentally different approach post-acquisition. I would recommend the following integration strategies post-deal: If your objective is to acquire resources, integrate them quickly into your existing business and then let the former business 'die'.
Alternatively, if your plan is to acquire a new business model, try not to interfere too much, although make sure to add your own resources and expertise to learn and exploit the advances it brings.
When acquiring resources, such as professional practices, you run the risk that very little time and effort is actually spent on executing an integration plan. People will always need to understand the rationale behind the deal and feel part of it - quickly. A mobile resource can just as easily walk away.
In the case of a new business model, a significant amount of time and effort should be spent on dissecting the product as well as processes and systems. Look at what can be learnt and applied to your existing model as well as the problems that they have encountered and overcome. Real value can be unlocked by this careful investigation. Where such acquisitions can go wrong is the temptation to assume that the acquirer's processes are the best.
Speaking to GRTV after the game, Backs Coach Tim Taylor was happy with the squad as they cruised to victory over Treviso. The result wasn't in doubt, but the Cherry and Whites laboured to secure a crucial try bonus point.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester Rugby centre Matt Scott is excited to take the field again as the Cherry and Whites look to build on the win in Bayonne when Treviso come to Kingsholm this Saturday.
Defence Coach Jonny Bell admitted this week that the European Rugby Challenge Cup victory in Bayonne was a welcome one, stressed that Benetton Treviso will pose a tough test on Saturday at Kingsholm but that Gloucester are determined to deliver in front of their own fans.
Motu Matu'u is looking to make up for lost time this week as the Cherry and Whites head to Basque Country to take on Bayonne in the European Rugby Challenge Cup opener. The Samoan hooker made his first appearance in the jersey last weekend, and is hoping to contribute to the team this weekend.
Gloucester's attentions turn to Europe this weekend as they travel to Bayonne for their opening fixture of this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup. Forwards Coach Trevor Woodman told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will be aiming to top their pool as they've done for the past two seasons, but is well aware of how tough it is to win in France.
Although understandably disappointed at seeing victory slip away at the last minute, Ben Morgan said after the game at Exeter that there were plenty of positives that Gloucester could take from the game.
Speaking after a last-gasp try from Exeter earned the Chiefs a 27-27 draw at Sandy Park on Saturday, Charlie Sharples admitted to mixed feelings. The game saw him score a try on his 200th competitive appearance for the club, but the frustration from not closing out the win was clear.
Gloucester made it two wins from two outings in this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup as they outplayed Benetton Treviso at Kingsholm to win by 37 points to 8, the bonus point try coming with the final play of the game.