Mergers and Acquistions: Causes of Failure

Mergers and Acquistions: Causes of Failure

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Indicated by the exact meaning of the word, the term merger and acquisition(M&A) describes two different circumstances. A merger is the unification of two or more firms into a new one, while an acquisition is one company’s purchase of the majority of the shares from another (Bressmer 1989, Pausenberger 1990, Brauchlin 1990). A M&A is thus characterized by the fact that after unification there are fewer firms than before. After an acquisition, however, the target firm can either remain autonomous, or be partially or wholly integrated into the new parent company, although the firms remain independent entities from a legal point of view.

Results showed that approximately half of all mergers or less are successful, but the question surrounding the causes of failure still remains. The evidence indicates that doesn’t seem to be a single matter to why some mergers fail or why others succeed.

One reason of failure may be the problem of communication through the company which may create an unfriendly working environment. In the presence of a high risk of losing their jobs,it is a difficult task to keep people motivated in doing their best at their working places.(Bulent 2005; Buono & Bowditch 2003).
Another reason for failure, according to Buono & Bowditch (2003) is that managers should not underestimate the people issues that might arise and neither the cultural aspects.
As stated in Hayward (2002), acquiring companies could be following an incorrect strategy: choosing the wrong target, paying too much for it and then integrating it poorly (Gilson and Black 1995;Haspeslagh and Jemison 1991). According to Cartwright and Cooper (1993), “financial and strategic considerations dominate the selection of a suitable acquisition target or merger partner. Decisions are driven by issues of availability, price, potential economies of scale, and projected earning ratios. Consequently when the combination fails to realize financial expectations, the post-mortem analysis of merger failure or underperformance tends to focus on reexamination of the factors that prompted the initial selection decision. Typically, poor selection decisions are attributed to an over inflated purchase price, managerial incompetence in achieving projected economies of scale, or that the organizations are strategically mismatched.”
Analyzing in terms of investment, if a private investor puts money into a company he has an expectation of both risk and return on the investment. Given a particular level of risk, the investment needs to be expected to have a particular level of return. For example, investment in a start-up needs to have the potential for a very high return, given the higher risk of failure, while investment in a large established business can be coupled with a lower expected return, given the lower risk of failure.

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Another cause of failure may be choosing an inadequate manager to handle the foreign new-established company. Placing an unprepared, inexperienced managing director, unable to find viable strategies having as result the well-being of the company, will lead into further losses. More than half of the business managers “really don’t enjoy having their business policies and decisions under the microscope, especially for an extended period of time and by a party searching for skeletons in the closet.”(Sherman, 2006)
To conclude, it is difficult to decide on a certain reason for the failure of M&A because all these different factors, external or internal contribute to this phenomenon. In addition to these elements, as a first step when thinking about going international, companies should examine all the components of the target market and its culture: consumers, buying behavior, competitors, GDP, trade barriers.


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