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M&A: Top Ten Drivers

Embarking on a strategy to grow revenue or cut costs via M&A acquisition is bold and risky. The failure-rate statistics for deals is not a pretty picture. It is not a leap to draw the conclusion from the high failure rate that the typical acquirer materially overestimates the synergy benefits that will accrue after close. Perhaps the blame for a too high valuation on synergy benefits is over-exuberance. However, I think this is the wrong inference.

I believe that under-estimation of the importance of the post-merger integration planning is the single greatest factor leading to this high failure-rate phenomenon. The preventative action is development of a robust post-merger integration plan that aligns stakeholders’ activities with the deal thesis.

Objectives, Measures, and Benefits

A critical first step to creating this plan is for leaders to communicate a deal thesis with clear success criteria. The objectives, measures, and benefits must be detailed and well defined. For example, if they are not tangible or they are vague, it is highly likely they will lose gravitas as they timeline moves forward. As a starting point, to creating a robust deal thesis, here are the top ten drivers of M&A acquisitions[1]

Top-Ten Drivers of M&A acquisitions

1.    Industry Synergy
Achieve economies of scale by buying customer / supplier, or competitor. Acquisition of a competitor is horizontal, and acquisition of a customer or supplier is vertical.

2.    Strategic Planning
Accomplish strategic goals more quickly and more successfully such as entering new markets or acquiring technology or people assets.

3.    Differential efficiency
Realize a return on investment by buying a company with less efficient processes and making them more efficient

4.    Inefficient Management
Realize a return by buying a company with inefficient managers and replacing them

5.    Market Power
Increase market share and ability to increase price/profit.

6.    Financial Synergy
Lower cost of capital by smoothing cash flow and increasing debt capacity

7.    Under valuation
Take advantage of a price that is low in comparison to past stock prices and/or estimated future prices, or in relation to the cost the buyer would incurs if it built the company from scratch

8.    Corporate Governance
Assert control at the board of directors’ level in an underperforming company with dispersed stakeholder ownership

9.    Tax Efficiency
Obtain a more favorable tax status

10.    Managerialism
Increase the pay and/or power of managers




[1] Lajoux, Alexandra Reed (2019). The art of M & A : a merger, acquisition, and buyout guide. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.


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