Know Thyself First

The first piece of useful information is a detailed analysis of the culture of the acquiring company. Obviously, without this data there is no baseline to compare with the characteristics of the target companies. But in our experience, very few companies have this information current and available at the level of detail necessary.

A cultural self-assessment in and of itself will usually have clear benefits for the acquiring company. First, it is not unusual for this activity to surface what will become "time critical" issues—things that are not going all that well internally, have not been dealt with, and are not desirable to take forward into a merged operation. Further, there may well be areas within the acquiring company that are less than supportive of an acquisition in general and/or strong negative impressions of particular companies that may be in the pool of potential targets.

Knowing this in advance enables the acquirer to engage in any necessary pre-merger work internally. Time spent uncovering and resolving issues is time saved in the crucial and time-sensitive integration period.

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