Can This Merger Be Saved? (HBR Case Study)
For teaching purposes, this is the case-only version of the HBR case study. The commentary-only version is reprint 99103Z. The complete case study and commentary is reprint 99103. In this fictional case study by HBR Senior Editor Sarah Cliffe, a merger that looked like a marriage made in heaven to those at corporate headquarters is feeling like an infernal union to those on the ground. The merger is between Synergon Capital, a U.S. financial-services behemoth, and Beauchamp, Becker & Company, a venerable British financial-services company with strong profits and an extraordinarily loyal client base of wealthy individuals. Beauchamp also boasts a strong group of senior managers led by Julian Mansfield, a highly cultured and beloved patriarch who personifies all that's good about the company. Synergon isn't accustomed to acquiring such companies. It usually encircles a poorly managed turnaround candidate and then, once the deal is done, drops a neutron bomb on it, leaving file cabinets and contracts but no people. Before acquiring Beauchamp, Synergon's macho men offered loud assurances that they would leave the tradition-bound company alone--provided, of course, that Beauchamp met the ambitious target numbers and showed sufficient enthusiasm for cross-selling Synergon's products to its wealthy clients. In charge of making the acquisition work is Nick Cunningham, one of Synergon's more thoughtful executives. Nick, who was against the deal from the start, is the face and voice of Synergon for Julian Mansfield. And Mansfield, in his restrained way, is angry at the constant flow of bureaucratic forms, at the rude demands for instant information, at the peremptory changes. He's even dropping broad hints at retirement. Nick has already been warned: if Mansfield goes, you go. In 99103 and 99103Z, Bill Paul, J. Brad McGee, Jill Greenthal, Dale Matschullat, Daniel Vasella, and Albert J. Viscio advise Nick on how to save his job by bringing peace and prosperity to the feuding couple.