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Book Reviews:

Successful Mergers: Getting the People Issues Right

by Marion Devine (Economist Books / Bloomberg Press)

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Mergers and acquisitions trigger change on a huge scale, often causing chain reactions within a business sector as companies combine in the race to gain competitive advantage. Like atomic reactions, M&A's release bursts of energy within companies, some of which are creative and some of which can be destructive.

Why do so many mergers fail? What can be done to make them succeed? Worldwide merger and acquisition activity has chewed-through over $100 billion in recent years. But the M&A failure rate is highroughly half fail and the financial gains of even successful mergers are often neutral. Why is this the case?

Successful Mergers examines how companies can make a success out of what has been shown repeatedly to be a course of action that is difficult, disruptive and unpredictable. It demonstrates that financial and strategic considerations still dominate merger negotiations, while the employee issues are largely ignored in the understand that they can be sorted out later during the integration phase.

In reality, however, people are the real "deal makers" and that it is only when individuals choose to commit their creativity and energy to a merger that the real synergies flow. Successful mergers include leading and managing people and these issues start at the beginning of negotiations. Anyone who thinks they can bolt two businesses together and leave sorting out cultural conflicts until the end of the process is a serious mistake.

Through reference to studies of such mergers as Time Warner/AOL, Chrysler and Daimler-Benz, Compaq and Digital Equipment, and Zeneca and Astra, this book examines where companies so often get things wrong, and lays out a clear course for how to get it right.

Author Marion Devine has combined 15 years of writing about management for the Financial Times, Sunday Times, Director and People Management with carrying out applied research at independent management centers.

-Lucas Everidge

Edition: Hardcover, 288 pages (January, 2002)

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