After the merger: Survey identifies keys to successful integration

May 13, 2010
Pharmaceutical Commerce, Pharmaceutical Commerce - May/June 2010,

Corporate culture rated as an important risk-assessment factor in Best Practices survey

Can’t we all just get along? That’s what employees caught in the middle of last year’s biopharma mega-mergers might be asking themselves right now. The mergers were announced more than a year ago, but the critical post-integration period for the acquiring and acquired companies is happening now, points out Best Practices LLC (Chapel Hill, NC) in a report called “M&A Integration Excellence: What Biopharma Companies Need to Know Now.”

For the report, Best Practices interviewed personnel at 26 biopharma companies, including Pfizer, which announced its merger with Wyeth last spring. Interviewees ranged from CFOs and CTOs to new business integration specialists and marketing managers.

One of the main takeaways from the report: “Culture clashes can slow integrations and depress the value of acquired assets.”

To keep culture clashes in check, industry experts recommend employing an ongoing cultural integration process—one that starts early and is revisited even three years after the merger. Industry experts interviewed also recommend using staff rotations as a useful cultural integration and “cross-pollination” tool. “Companies that conduct frequent M&A activities look for opportunities to rotate senior staff—both from the acquiring and acquired companies—into key roles in the new assets and in the larger company,” the report explains. “Two-way rotations send a strong signal about the merging of cultures and underscore that talented people will always have an important role.”