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Home > Mergers and Acquisitions Best Practice > M&A Communication: It Doesn’t Start With the Announcement

Mergers and Acquisitions Best Practice

M&A Communication: It Doesn’t Start With the Announcement

by Paul J. Siegenthaler

Executive Summary

  • Two companies with different motives must tell one coherent story

  • That same story will mean something different for five distinct audiences

  • Timing is crucial to avoid information overload, ensure clarity and relevance, and sustain interest

  • What makes sense for some may be obscure to others: a feedback loop is essential

  • Input from a cross-functional team is needed to capture and correctly portray the multiple facets of a business integration

Communicate? Who Cares Anyway...

For some, external communications may be perceived as a self-gratifying justification for spending vast sums of money which distract from a focus on the core business. Internal communications can also be judged harshly, sometimes derided as the “touchy-feely” of a human resources department that’s trying to raise its profile in the company, but ultimately disseminating messages that are either irrelevant, lacking in credibility, or clichés with little substance.

These perceptions illustrate that most companies and their leaders are simply not very good at communicating externally or internally. Consequently, firm leaders may fail to reach the stated objective of communication—which is to provide clarity, ensure alignment, and serve as a key tool for driving change.

This chapter examines the considerations and constraints that may impact communications made in connection with mergers and acquisitions (M&A), as illustrated in Figure 1.

M&A: Twice the Complexity

Planning, developing, and delivering good communication during a merger or acquisition is a double act that requires two organizations to synchronize the timing and coordinate content to ensure its coherence. This process is far from simple as the two businesses may have different motives for proceeding with the M&A transaction—for example, why is one company divesting itself of a business or a shareholder exiting an investment which the acquirer considers to be an exciting opportunity?

This double act starts with the first holding statements prepared before the deal is signed and continues until the transaction is completed. This time frame could span several weeks. Generally, a deal takes six to 12 weeks for regulatory approval, and six months to over a year in the case of very large or complex deals. That is a very long time for a couple to keep moving precisely in step on a dance floor…

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Further reading

Books

  • Davenport, Jenny, and Simon Barrow. Employee Communication During Mergers and Acquisitions Surry, UK: Gower Publishing, 2009.
  • Hedengran Larsen, Kristian, Communication - The Key to Successful Mergers & Acquisitions?; Navigating Business Processes in the New Millennium. Saarbrücken, Germany :LAP LAMBERT, 2011.

Articles

  • PwC. “M&A Communications : Communicating to engage and motivate people throughout the deal”. Deals M&A Integration Practice, (April 2014). Online at: http://tinyurl.com/mbrcbm9

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