M&A Buyer: Executive Workshop = Key to Success

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Consider when a company is acquired… two organizations will be merged in a manner that will satisfy the acquirer’s strategic goals.  Each company’s management team has extensive experience, and the acquired company’s leaders will be accustomed to control their business.  They are leaders with their own vision of the future, with an established organization structure, filled with a personally selected team of executives. They have established business processes that may have achieved – or perhaps exceeded – their strategic goals. 

These leaders have healthy egos and pride of ownership.

… And then the company was acquired!

The target company leadership team is no longer in charge – operating under their rules.  Everything may change because the acquirer has different strategic goals, organization structure, and differing business relationships. This is a critical time in any acquisition – one that may ultimately define the acquisition’s success or failure.

The Executive Workshop is a process designed to align the leadership goals of the acquirer and the target company. It may be a contentious confrontation, or an effectively facilitated engagement.  The executive workshop is a facilitated meeting that establishes the acquisition goals with key executives of the acquired company.

The acquirer’s leadership should carefully prepare the agenda, identify the participants, and share the acquisition strategies and goals with the target, while understanding the issues and emotions at the target company.  Workshop attendees will include both companies’ leaders. 

Ideally, the buyer’s CEO/COO will meet privately in advance with the target’s CEO/COO to understand the integration issues from their point of view, while explaining the acquisition strategies.  At the pre-meeting, the target company executive should be prepared to discuss:

  • Those significant confidential business matters that were not disclosed previously, and
  • Significant organizational matters such as structure and key employees. 

The pre-meeting may require strategy changes to the business combination, but this is better done before teams of executives engage at the workshop.   

During this exchange of information, the target company executive effectively recognizes the new owner, and becomes an employee of the acquirer.  There’s a new boss in town.

The goal of the Executive Workshop is to share information about strategies, and the current situation.  The agenda should include topics such as:             

          Initial governance – executive reporting relationships

  • Organization structure and key executives
  • Strategic acquisition goals
  • Initial changes expected related to key elements of the transaction … people (employees, customers, vendors, communities, other relationships such as government agencies, venture partners etc.), facilities, and processes.
  • Executive team orientation – building relationships among both companies’ executives.

Good luck.