Reply To: M&A persists despite high failure rate?


Death and taxes… the only two things guaranteed in life. As a successful M&A is not guaranteed, neither is a failed M&A despite the statistical data. In the M&A arena, there are a lot of big egos. Most never doubt they will succeed and nearly all can’t imagine the deal in front of them will fail. Money is another driver. Even a failed M&A will be lucrative to someone.

And sometimes, the yard stick against which success is measured is perceived differently depending on your stakeholder group. If the transaction thesis is to acquire a competitor to eliminate them as a potential threat, and after the integration, the deal falls apart but the competitor never recovers and goes out of business, was the M&A really a loss? Isn’t the market still short one threatening competitor? From the perspective of the stakeholder group of employees from the competitor, the deal failed. From the perspective of the stakeholder group of the acquiring business ownership/leadership it was successful… messy, perhaps costly, but successful.

To quote a very wise old man, “You’ll find that a lot of the truths we cling to depend on our own point of view.”

Of course, if the prospect of failure was the wall over which no one will climb, then there is a lot of innovation and creativity that would die before it even got started. We would never have gone to the moon if we let the potential for failure stop us. The Astronauts on Apollo 13 would have died if the potential for failure had prevented the team from figuring out how to put a round tube in a square hole (or vice versa… always get that one confused). And Blue Origin, Virgin Rocket, and Space X would never have happened were these companies, teams, and individuals to have caved just because there was a chance of failure… an ENORMOUS chance of failure. Why did the climber climb the mountain? Because it was there.

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