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Bain Book

Mastering the Merger

Four Critical Decisions That Make or Break the Deal

By David Harding and Sam Rovit

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. In Mastering the Merger, 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 megamergers, these companies 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:

  1. Invest with a sound thesis
  2. Ask and answer the big questions in due diligence
  3. Integrate quickly where it matters
  4. Develop contingency plans for the unexpected

Drawing from extensive Bain & Company research on more than 1,700 companies and illustrated through stories of real merger successes and failures, 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.

A must-read for every corporate executive, Mastering the Merger illuminates the core decision strategies that will help companies win in the essential but risky world of M&A.

About the Authors

David Harding

David Harding is an advisory partner in Bain & Company's Boston office and the former leader of the firm’s Global Mergers & Acquisitions practice. He is also a leader in the Corporate Finance practice. He has co-authored several articles in Harvard Business Review and has written for the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and other international publications.

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Sam Rovit

Sam Rovit is a former leader of Bain's global Mergers & Acquisitions practice. He guided numerous large merger integrations, organization redesigns and performance turnaround situations in a variety of industries. His work has been published in Harvard Business Review, Acquisitions Monthly and Strategy & Leadership.

What Others Are Saying

How can businesses show successful sustained growth in the low-odds M&A game? Harding and Rovit propose a handful of well-researched practices that are proven to win. They will be added to our toolkit!

Jim Haymaker, Former Corporate Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, Cargill Inc.

 

Finally, a useful book for managers who know that mergers will be key to their company's future. Harding and Rovit provide a clear, focused analysis of the key steps to making mergers work.

Joseph L. Bower, Donald Kirk David Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus, Harvard Business School

 

Harding and Rovit offer remarkable benefits for any manager or executive striving to set a course for growth. An excellent book that's pragmatic, insightful, and a pleasure to read.

Michael S. Roskothen, Former President, Global Oral Care, and Corporate Officer, Colgate-Palmolive Company

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