Scott C. Whitaker on completing successful cross-border mergers and acquisitions: An interview by Bob Morris

Whitaker-160x200Scott Whitaker is a Partner with Global PMI Partners and has been involved in dozens of mergers and acquisitions totaling nearly $100 billion in value. Industry experience includes healthcare, financial services, telecommunications, gaming, hospitality, chemicals, oil & gas, industrial manufacturing, retail and consumer durables. Scott has worked internationally in Canada, China, Europe, and Africa on a variety of assignments.

Whitaker holds a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is the author of Mergers & Acquisitions Integration Handbook: Helping Companies Realize The Full Value of Acquisitions, a comprehensive resource to help companies create a scalable post-merger or acquisition integration process that accelerates operating and business benefit goal realization.

His most recent book is Cross-Border Mergers and Acquisitions published by John Wiley & Sons (April 2016).

He has held senior level marketing, sales and operations positions with several Fortune 500 companies. Scott and has been awarded the Certified Management Consultant designation from the Institute of Management Consultants and is the past President of the Institute of Management Consultants in Georgia. Scott also teaches for the ACGU (Association of Corporate Growth University) and is past conference speaker and webinar presenter for the MMIBA (Middle Market Investment Banking Association) and NACVA (National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts).

Here is an excerpt from my interview of Scott.

* * *

Morris: Is completing a successful M&A today more difficult, less difficult, or about the same as it was (let’s say) ten years ago? Please explain.

Whitaker: I would say that it has always been and will be difficult, as there are plenty of studies that indicate that companies are successful about 50% of the time (success being them being able to deliver on the original deal objectives). With the street’s continued focus on short term results buyers of public companies will always be under pressure to deliver results within 1-2 years after close. So I would say it’s about the same in terms of degree of difficulty.

Morris: Peter Drucker once suggested that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Is that generally true of M&As? Please explain.

Whitaker: Yes, and there is no such thing as “adopting common culture” which sounds great as an integration objective but is completely unrealistic. Legacy cultures are difficult to fully eradicate, and the reality is you end up having a diaspora of cultures based on your acquisition history. Leaders who set a strong vision and business goals can help align these legacy cultures and get folks all pointing in the right direction. Cultural integration efforts are an important part of managing M&A and requires detailed planning especially around communications and change management, and patience and consistency is most often the key to success.

Morris: In your opinion, which faces greater challenges during the M&A process: a company that acquires or one that is being acquired? Please explain.

Whitaker: The acquirer, as all of the pressure is on them to deliver the investment thesis and deal objectives. Make no doubt it is difficult and stressful for the target as well, but the acquirer is responsible for all of the pre-deal diligence, integration planning, and delivery of deal objectives.

Morris: Now please shift your attention to Cross-Border Mergers and Acquisitions. When and why did you decide to write it?

Whitaker: It is a lightly covered area in M&A, and with cross-border M&A activity increasing by double digits over the past few years, I thought practitioners could use a hands-on reference for the topic covering a wide range of legal, political, social and cultural topics. (as well as general best practices on a wide array of integration planning and execution topics).

Cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M&A) can be one of the most intense and chaotic periods a company will ever experience, and I thought readers could benefit from the collective experience of my fellow authors to help then navigate this challenge.

Morris: Were there any head-snapping revelations while writing it? Please explain.

Whitaker: I was thoroughly amazed at the breadth and depth of subject matter coverage by my contributing authors…we exceeding out planned page count by nearly 40%! Their expertise on virtually every topic covering the M&A lifecycle makes the book an extremely helpful reference for any M&A practitioner.

Also, the authors collectively cover 9 countries where the majority of M&A activity occurs today, so there’s no country specific bias which means the book can be useful to M&A practitioners across the world.

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

Scott cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

The Global PMI Partners website link

His Amazon link

His LinkedIn link

His Wiley link

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