Mastering the Merger Four critical decisions that make or break the deal
Mastering the Merger
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Mastering the Merger
Mastering the Merger: Four Critical Decisions that Make or Break the Deal (Harvard Business School Publishing, November 2004)

The authors
David Harding is a director in Bain & Company's Boston office and is an expert in corporate strategy and organizational effectiveness. Sam Rovit is a director in the Chicago office and leader of Bain & Company's Global Mergers & Acquisitions practice.

Contact the author
Contact the webmaster to request an interview with David Harding and/or Sam Rovit.

The concept

Corporate leaders find themselves in a classic catch-22. Seventy percent of major acquisitions fail—yet it's nearly impossible to build a world-class company through organic growth alone. Within this paradox lies an intriguing question: What do successful deal makers do differently?

David Harding and Sam Rovit have spent more than three decades working in the trenches with executives grappling with the merger process, and they argue that the top deal makers employ specific tactics and behaviors that dramatically improve the odds that a merger will succeed. Rather than engaging in complex mega-mergers, these companies instead execute a series of smaller, lower-risk deals, gradually scaling up and institutionalizing a "success formula." And rather than wasting time on excessive number crunching, they implement a highly disciplined deal-making process focused on four key imperatives.

Drawing from extensive Bain & Company research on more than 1,700 companies and illustrated through stories of real merger successes and failures, Mastering the Merger shows how the top deal makers:
  • Target deals according to a sound investment thesis
  • Determine which deals to close and which to walk away from
  • Prioritize which aspects of the businesses to integrate and which to leave independent
  • Develop contingency plans for when deals inevitably go off track
Harding and Rovit walk readers through each of these make-or-break decisions and distill the most important lessons would-be acquirers should learn before they enter the merger fray.
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