What to do first if your company’s being acquired?

Posted on 19 September 2009. Filed under: Tips & Suggestions |

You wake up one morning and you read that your company is being acquired.  Aside from the shock of hearing this, your first thought (other than ‘OMG!’ and ‘Is this a dream or am I really awake already?) usually is:  ‘What should I do if my company’s being acquired?’

That IS the right question.  What DO you do when you hear you’re company’s being acquired.  From the start, never ignore it.  Ultimately, what you heard or read may not be true, but don’t count on your luck at this point.  The announcement may be true but then never happen because ultimately the CEOs or the Board couldn’t agree on the deal with the purchaser.  Or the purchaser walks away.  Or maybe the government came in to stop it (something more common in some countries such as France, but don’t count on a government rescue if you’re in the US or UK).  It therefore may never happen, but then again it might, and you haven’t wasted too much time or energy if you assume that it will and you turn out to be wrong.

There is a whole book written about what you should do when you hear the news that you’re company is being (or might be) acquired.  But assuming you didn’t expect it and therefore have to take action NOW before you can get your hands on a copy of that book, you might want to consider the following:

First, don’t assume that anyone in the company will take care of you.  Even your boss … and maybe even especially your boss.  Unless your manager is part of the inside circle that designed the acquisition, he or she may actually know less than you do about what will happen.  That may be counter-intuitive, but too often true.  Similarly, the higher up in the organisation you are, the more likely you will be made redundant, so your boss is actually MORE likely than you to get fired.

Second, prepare for the worst.  Do not put all your eggs in one basket (an internal opportunity).  So much changes during an M&A deal even after announcement that despite the fact that you might have been promised a position in the new organisation, the situation may change rapidly and the offer is withdrawn.  Have an exit plan.  Think about what you would do if you did lose your job, and then position yourself accordingly.  Just in case.  Consider it as your employment insurance policy, and invest some time in it.

Third, take proactive steps to protect your job.  The second half of the Surviving Mergers book has numerous suggestions about which actions others have found to be effective when their companies were acquired, but only you know best your own situation.  Offense is the best defense.

And when you’ve succeeded, please do come back here to this Surviving Mergers blog and let us know what worked for you so that others can use your ideas as well.  Or if your plan didn’t work, let us know as well so that others can avoid doing the same.  Thanks!

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3 Responses to “What to do first if your company’s being acquired?”

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[…] you just heard your company’s being acquiried or making an acquisition (see the post ‘What to do first if your company’s being acquired?‘ which has some suggestions about the necessary defensive measures to […]

[…] The busiest day of the year was March 10th with 57 views. The most popular post that day was What to do first if your company’s being acquired?. […]

Being a part of a merger and acquisition is a horrid experience! It ups the office politics to the most disastrous levels. It’s like being on “Survivor” where everyone is lying and everyone is stabbing everyone else in the back. I find it’s always best to always be “looking” for opportunities to grow your career and your own personal development. When it comes to career, it’s best to have more than one iron in the fire. Some people reject promotions and disregard invitations to serve on boards or as community reps – these persons are the ones who are most alarmed when a merger or acquisition happens.


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