This wave of M&A deals: Who will be made redundant now?

Posted on 17 September 2009. Filed under: Tips & Suggestions |

Strategic acquisitions are once again headline news with the announcement of a number of massive deals on both sides of the Atlantic (see the blog entry in a sister website:  Has the M&A market returned?  Green shoots turn into harvest time…’).

Wait a few weeks or months, and the headlines will talk more about the people who will be (or are already) being made redundant from those deals.  As naturally as dusk follows day and water flows downhill, the merger of two companies results in people being fired, plants and offices closed, product lines shut down or merged and one of the two CEOs (plus one of the two CFOs, HR heads, Senior VPs for IT, etc) taking ‘early retirement’ or departing ‘for personal reasons’ and later showing up at a lesser well-regarded competitor.

Is there anything you can do about this if you’re one of the people in a company where a merger has just been announced?  Yes, there definitely is.  And you should – because on average 10-15% of employees across both companies will be made redundant or leave because of the deal, and the figure can be as high as one-third.

The first thing you need to do is to decide whether you really want to stay — or should you take the (often very attractive) redundancy or severance package and find another job.  But assuming you want to stay…

There are many steps you can take to stay, as discussed in that book, ranging from ‘showing off’ your (hopefully) excellent work (and going against the natural tendency to ‘stay low’ at a time like this), increasing your internal networking and even volunteering for the planning and transition teams.

If the M&A market has truly started growing again and if we really are therefore at the start of a new strong M&A wave, then many people will be faced with the need to ‘survive’ in a way that they hadn’t anticipated.  Best to get started now with some planning, even if you feel your company isn’t at risk.  Do you think most of the employees at Cadbury anticipated the need to plan an acquisition survival strategy in 2009? Or did Mavel’s employees expect that they’ll need superhuman skills to retain their jobs in 2010?

[Note:  you can find a variation of this posting on my other blog, Intelligent Mergers]

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