The big idea
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) have always been an option for all kinds of business from commercial to non-profit. But the current economic downturn has put them centre stage. M&As are sometimes seen as a rescue option for those needing to shore up their finances but they can also be seen positively as a chance to strengthen effectiveness and impact. The key question for any organisation looking at an M&A option is not whether it should be pursued but “How best do we fulfil our business’ mission and is M&A a better option than other alternatives?” (Cortez 2009)
When two or more businesses are thinking of coming together as a merger or acquisition, there is a wide range of issues that need to be considered and they are likely to be viewed from very different perspectives. Different company forms may have different legal requirements in relation to such a process and this tool is no substitute for formal legal advice. There are various forms that the merged entity could take:
- A holding company is established and the existing businesses continue as subsidiaries
- A new company is created and the activities, assets and liabilities are transferred to the new business
- One of the existing enterprises transfers its activities, assets and liabilities to the other
- One of the existing businesses becomes a subsidiary of the other
Each approach has different costs and benefits and it will depend where you are in the M&A as to how you perceive them.
This tool is based on two questions:
- What are the drivers for this M&A?
- How might you assess a possible M&A partner?
It includes prompts to help you look at each question in detail. The tool can be done on your own or with a group. If you have a board, it should be involved. It is suitable for businesses of any scale and will take several hours to complete in detail.