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In the midst of all the buzz about mergers and acquisitions, it can be easy to overlook the many crucial steps required in order for a company to successfully pursue and complete an acquisition. A successful M&A requires careful planning, effective communication, and diligent execution.

Begin with a plan. Many companies advance myriad reasons for pursuing an acquisition–purchasing international scale, filling portfolio gaps, building a third leg of the business–but the most successful acquirers have specific and well-articulated ideas about how their acquisitions will create value.

Form a team. The M&A team should comprise members of the executive boards of directors and management of both the target and acquiring companies, in addition to outside experts who are experienced in acquisitions. This group will collaborate to determine the goals of the sale, create the targets for potential candidates, and screen potential candidates.

Conduct an in-depth due diligence. It is typical for buyers to request extensive documentation and interview many people before making a decision. The buyer’s assessment can be lengthy and sellers must be prepared to provide the details as soon as they can and assist in the process. The seller should seek final board approval immediately after the due diligence process is completed.

Create integration plans. It is crucial that the buyer has a team leader who is capable of dedicating a significant amount of time and effort to the integration. This person should have the required skills with the right resources and management to ensure an easy and smooth transition.