Tips & Suggestions

Be your own boss

Posted on 28 September 2010. Filed under: Tips & Suggestions |

In my book Surviving M&A:  Make the most of your company being acquired and in earlier posts on this blog (see, for example, ‘What happens if you ARE fired or made redundant after a merger?’), I have mentioned that one of the first things that you need to do if your company is being acquired is to decide whether you want to stay with the company (and if so, follow the advice on this blog on how to improve your chances of being a survivor) or to leave.

If you do decide you want to leave, one of your choices is to start up your own business and work for yourself.  If you do make this decision — or are considering doing this — can I recommend that you see a new book by David Mellor:  From Crew to Captain and which you can buy from Amazon by clicking here. In David’s words, ‘The purpose of “From Crew to Captain” is to help people understand the transition from working for a big institution to working for themselves. I have made this journey, and helped many others do the same.’

David’s advice is both practical and immediately actionable.  He shows the challenges but also the rewards of the hard work of being your own boss.  Importantly, he demonstrates that you don’t need to have a tremendously creative or new idea before you launch your new business.  Most new business are not earth-shatteringly new and won’t develop into the next Apple, Microsoft or Body Shop, yet they are very rewarding for the founders nevertheless.

Do also check out David’s blog which has the headline:  ‘Welcome to the next chapter of your life’ … which is a very relevant comment for anyone in a company that has just announced a merger or acquisition, and whether you decide to stay or leave.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

If your CEO changes, prepare yourself!

Posted on 28 August 2010. Filed under: Tips & Suggestions |

As also discussed in the IntelligentMergers blog in an entry entitled ‘What comes next?  Change your CEO and (bang!) you’re acquiring another company’, when a company changes it’s CEO, there’s a very good chance that one of the first times that the new CEO will do is to initiate a strategy to acquire another company or even to merge.

You might at that point want to begin preparations as if 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 take.

It’s likely that the new CEO won’t be announcing his or her planned acquisition on the first day they’re appointed, and maybe not even for several months.  In fact, the research at Cass Business School’s M&A Research Centre (I’m the director there) found that you would typically have at least a half year before such a deal is announced.  But better to be prepared early, and before others!  You’ll want to combine it with our suggestions (in the post ‘How to tell if your company is being acquired?‘) which discuss some of the weaker signals that would indicate that you should be preparing more actively.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Writing a CV / Resume to get a job in M&A

Posted on 28 July 2010. Filed under: Tips & Suggestions |

I get asked all the time — especially by my business school students — about what they can do to get a job in M&A, whether with one of the advisors (such as Credit Suisse or the other big investment banks, a boutique, or one of the Big 4 such as Ernst & Young) or even a corporate development position in a big corporation.

I would like to refer anyone with such an interest to a very good article recently written for FINS of The Wall Street Journal and covered as well elsewhere (such as in Financial News). Entitled ‘The Perfect M&A Resume’, it does provide some excellent suggestions about what you should include in your CV / resume if you want to move into M&A (or even if you are already in M&A but want to switch firms).  A shorter version of the article can be found here:  ‘How to write the perfect CV for a job in M&A‘.

I am a great believer in the ‘one-page CV’ concept, which the articles above also suggest.  If you need to go to a second page, that page should be a deal sheet only of the deals you’ve worked on;  that second page should not be a continuation of the body of the CV.  In M&A, many of the deals may be confidential, but as that article suggests, you can always include the approximate size but then note the deal companies anonymously (that is, ‘Large global bank based in New York acquiring the assets of a Trust Bank in Japan’).

I also strongly agree and therefore believe that the summary at the top of the CV should be dropped.  But the information you might have had there shouldn’t be lost completely, as it can be included in the cover email (or the cover letter, if sent by post).

Remember:  no one is hired directly from their CV into this industry.  The CV is the ‘teaser’ that gets you invited into the company for interviews — from which you CAN be hired.  Therefore, keep this in mind when writing the CV.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Will there be more redundancies from mergers in 2010?

Posted on 19 April 2010. Filed under: Tips & Suggestions |

In my other blog (IntelligentMergers), I have predicted that the M&A market will be flat in 2010 from 2009, which was 40% lower than the peak year of 2007 (see my post entitled:  ‘M&A Forecast for 2010 — an update‘).  But at $2.2 trillion worth of deals, 2010 is still a very strong year — and it will be well within the top 10 of all years in history in terms of deal volume.

Implication for surviving M&A deals?  It means that 2010 will also be amongst the top ten in terms of number of redundancies announced from mergers and acquisitions.  Not really a ‘top’ ten, of course, as each person fired will represent a great deal of personal, family and corporate pain.

Thus it is important to look at the previous posts here in this blog to see what can be done to minimise the chances that you will be made redundant, as many companies WILL be acquired this year!  It pays to be prepared.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

How to tell if your company is being acquired?

Posted on 3 March 2010. Filed under: Articles on surviving an acquisition, Stories about surviving M&A deals, Tips & Suggestions |

Are you asking yourself the question ‘Is my company being acquired?’  Should you be?

In earlier blogs here and also in  the Surviving Mergers book, I have said that it is critical to take a number of steps BEFORE the acquisition takes place in order to better your chances of being retained by the new owners.  Assuming, of course, you don’t want to leave the company and have nothing to do with those new owners!

But how do you tell if your company’s being acquired?  It would be very helpful to know this in advance of the official announcements so that you can be fully prepared.

First, take all rumours seriously.  Just as some people say ‘there’s always some truth to any joke’, there may be some basis to a rumour and the gossip about your company that you hear.  If you do start to hear such rumours — even if they are flatly and emphatically denied by management (and often they HAVE to do this for legal reasons) — you should then begin preparations.

If there aren’t any rumours, you can still pick up the ‘weak signals’ that something is happening.  One of my MBA students in my Mergers & Acquisitions class told us that he noticed lots of people in the lift each morning in fancy suits going to the executive floor and that all client meetings on that floor had been cancelled (and those inside the firm were told to find meeting rooms outside the headquarters).  He said two weeks later it was announced that his company (the Royal Bank of Scotland) was launching a hostile bid for the Dutch bank, ABN AMRO.

So look for the key signals that a deal is being discussed:

  • Unavailability of senior executives at functions where you would expect them to appear
  • Requests for information about your work that are outside the ordinary (the bidding company may be doing due diligence on your company)
  • Frequent or even consistent visits by ‘suits’ — probably investment bankers, lawyers and accountants who would be advising your senior management on the deal
  • Fewer corporate announcements from the PR and Investor Relations departments (as your company may be concerned about saying anything that would affect the planned deal)
  • Disappearance of key staff in accounting, HR, operations, etc.  These people may have been pulled out to work on the deal, as it isn’t just the senior managers who are working on it early on, as they need support to do the detail.
  • Delays in product launches, due to management distraction or a desire to delay the launch until AFTER the deal’s been announced.  Similarly, there could even be an acceleration of product launches if management thinks this might increase the price that they can get for the company.

There are certainly other signs.  You know your company best, so you can best assess whether there’s something different — and unexplained — going on.  If you do have other suggestions, please leave them below.

Of course, sometimes — maybe usually — the announcement of an acquisition will come as a complete surprise to everyone in the target company.  This is likely to be true especially if the deal is hostile and your management will be fighting the deal.  If you only hear about it along with everyone else, then start to take preparatory steps immediately.  See our posting ‘What to do first if your company’s being acquired?’

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )

Can you trust an acquiring company’s promises?

Posted on 10 February 2010. Filed under: Tips & Suggestions |

Would anyone answer the above question ‘yes’ after yesterday’s news?  Kraft, less than three weeks after agreeing to the purchase of British chocolate company Cadbury, reversed it’s promise to keep Cadbury’s Bristol plant (with over 400 employees) open. You can see the news story here on Sky News.

As the Cadbury union leaders said, this appeared to have been a deliberate attempt by Kraft to mislead the employees of that plant (and indeed the whole company) in order to gain further support for it’s hostile bid.  It also sends, in the words of the union, ‘the worst possible message’ to the other Cadbury employees in the UK and Ireland.  Even the British Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, had to say “This will confirm the fears of those who felt the takeover would result in job losses.”  He went on to say that “It is for the company [Kraft] now to prove the worth of their other statements about investing in the UK.”

There’s a clear message here for Cadbury employees and certainly for the employees of any  company acquired by Kraft in the future.  But how about employees of other companies that are acquired?

I do think that it is very likely in any M&A deal that there will be changes to the post-acquisition plans once the deal is signed and even moreso after the deal is closed.  This is more likely when the deal has been hostile (as was the case in with Kraft and Cadbury), as the acquirer will not have been able to spend time with the target’s current management discussing the company and it’s existing plans.  Much will remain unknown until after the deal actually closes and the two companies try to start operating as one.

It is therefore why I have noted in my book Surviving M&A that any employee should question any statement made by management during this period.  This is not to say that management will be trying to deliberately mislead employees;  more likely is that management JUST DIDN’T KNOW.  But all the more reason to be prepared fully for the possibility of redundancy and to do whatever you can to better your chances of being retained if your entire division isn’t axed after the deal.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

‘Management Today’ Article on Surviving an Acquisition

Posted on 2 February 2010. Filed under: Articles on surviving an acquisition, Tips & Suggestions |

In light of the takeover of Cadbury by Kraft, I was asked to write an article in Management Today entitled ‘MT Expert’s Ten Top Tips: Surviving M&A’.  Please do see the article, which is based on some of the findings from the book:  Surviving M&A: Make the most of your company being acquired.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

(More than) Ten Ways to Survive a Merger

Posted on 24 January 2010. Filed under: Articles on surviving an acquisition, Tips & Suggestions |

The decision by Cadbury to accept Kraft’s offer has certainly stimulated interest in what’s happening to the employees there.  BNET (the on-line business service from CBS) has published an article two days ago that has picked up on the advice offered by the Surviving M&A book and as also noted by the Financial Times blog a few days ago.

I especially appreciated the extra comments under that article that you can see if you scroll down, that do, I must admit, follow some of the further advice provided in the Surviving M&A book.  Nice to see as well that another BNET correspondent has said that the deal probably won’t be successful in the long term anyway (as up to 80% of all HOSTILE deals fail, he notes).  This is a clear message to Cadbury employees to look for ways to exit the firm before the turmoil sets in.  It’s actually a clear message to any employee in any company being acquired.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Surviving the Kraft acquisition of Cadbury

Posted on 21 January 2010. Filed under: Articles on surviving an acquisition, Tips & Suggestions |

Very nice to see that the Financial Times has yesterday reiterated the advice from this blog and Surviving M&A book about how to survive an acquisition.  The news is now that Cadbury WILL now be bought by Kraft, as the revised price of the offer has now reached a level where the board of Cadbury can no longer argue that the shareholders benefit.

But the employees of Cadbury should certainly be worried.  On average, 10% of the workforce in an acquisition will be fired.  Sometimes it’s as high as one-third!  This, despite the assurances of Kraft that they will even keep open the planned plant closures in England that had previously been announced by Cadbury.

It was nice to see that Stefan Stern of the Financial Times included in his blog the ‘top ten tips’ for those Cadbury managers.  You can see his blog here.  The advice actually applies to ALL Cadbury employees…

As noted in one of the comments to that blog and also as I’ve written in my book, first employees should determine whether they actually want to stay, because now may be an excellent time to leave.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

YouTube Video on Surviving an Acquisition

Posted on 1 December 2009. Filed under: About the book / weblog, Tips & Suggestions |

Cass Business School, where I teach a course on Mergers and Acquisitions, has recorded a video interview on the Surviving M&A: Make the most of your company being acquired book and also the recent research on this topic.  The YouTube video also includes some suggestions for reducing the chance of being made redundant if your company is acquired and compares the likelihood of being made redundant between managers and staff.

You can see the video here:  Cass Talks Episode 8 – Scott Moeller on how to survive if your company is going through an M&A deal

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

« Previous Entries

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...