How to Make Mergers and Acquisitions Work

M&A Integration: How to do it. Planning and delivering M&A integration for business success. Danny Davis.

I began to read this book out of curiosity and continued to read it out of interest. I found it a fascinating read. It’s a book that really makes you think. Davis illuminates all those dark crevices of the M&A process – from the acquisition to the integration – that a lot of executives forget about or just hope will go away. Davis asks the awkward questions, having seen so many mergers and acquisitions at first hand. That is one reason why this book is so good. Another is that he gives you road maps for making M&A work.

This book has been a long time in the making. Davis first thought about writing it four or five years ago, but time and a busy consultancy life got in the way of finishing it earlier than 2012. The result is a well-researched and deeply reflective book.

Most M&As fail, and for all sorts of reasons. Two of them are: a) neglecting the detailed implications of a merger or acquisition and b) underestimating the time needed to make it all work. Davis shows clearly how to create a successful integration and equally what can mess it up.

Mergers can fail not only because they’re badly implemented, but because their rationale was flawed from the start. The Achilles heel might be strategic or operational.

To reduce the risk of failure, the integration needs to be considered in depth alongside the due diligence. That’s painstaking and time-consuming, but necessary.

Davis makes a good case for separating what he calls integration governance from corporate governance. Keeping those two functions separate enables the integration team to check the feasibility of the plans from pre-deal into the post-deal phase.

Arguably the greatest value of the book lies in its examples derived not only from Davis’ own observations, but also from the experiences of those executives he has talked to. He gives us some great quotations from people who have learnt hard lessons.

This book is worth reading and re-reading. Every page is full of insights and advice. It’s also well written and for that reason easy to read. Above all, it’s very practical, but without being overly prescriptive. It’s a wise book.

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