Critical Success Factors in Merger & Acquisition Projects : A study from the perspectives of advisory firms

University essay from Umeå universitet/Handelshögskolan vid Umeå universitet; Umeå universitet/Handelshögskolan vid Umeå universitet


Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the corporate world are achieving increasing importance and attention especially in the advent of intense globalization. This is evident from the magnitude and growth of deal values and resultant ‘mega-mergers’ transacted in recent times. As expert advisory are sought in M&A activities to facilitate the undertaking and maximise the value of the transaction, advisory firms begin to play a more significant and at the same time lucrative role in M&A activities, to the extent of determining the outcome of such projects. Being an area of limited research, it is thus valuable to investigate what M&A advisory firms view as critical success factors to the projects they undertake. Consequently, the research question of “What are the critical success factors for merger & acquisition projects in the view of merger & acquisition advisory firms” has been raised. A list of ten critical success factors for M&A projects is firstly identified from an extensive literature review. These factors are (1) Complete and Clear objectives, goals and scope of the project, (2) Client consultation and acceptance, (3) Project manager’s competence and commitment, (4) Project team member’s competence and commitment, (5) Communication and information sharing and exchange, (6) Project plan development, (7) M&A advisory firm’s resource planning, (8) Time management and tight secrecy, (9) Price evaluation and financing scheme, and (10) Risk management.

In an attempt to explore the importance of each factor in the practical context, data have been collected through three research methods. Primarily, the authors conduct a semi-structured interview with six interviewees currently working in three organizations which provide professional services related to M&A projects. Meanwhile, a self-completion questionnaire method is employed, following which a sample of 325 M&A advisory firms based in the U.S. is selected to participate in an online survey. In addition, the authors follow a case study approach based on the three organizations of the six interviewees in order to establish comprehensive knowledge about issues relating to M&A projects.

In response to the research question, the findings strongly indicate that seven out of ten factors in the original list have a positive impact, being the factors listed above as (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (8), and (9). On the other hand, it revealed the lesser importance of the other three. In addition, three new factors have been discovered from analyzing the data collected, being (i) Having a number of key potential buyers with suitable profile (ii) Right, correct and complete information and data in the data room, and (iii) The quality of the selling company. While as another outcome of this research, further practical insights have been provided regarding the role of M&A advisory firms, the M&A process, common issues faced by M&A projects and the success criteria for M&A projects.

The findings from this research contribute valuable new knowledge to both researchers and practitioners in both project management and M&A fields, while facilitating the achievement of successful M&A projects.

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