On customers in mergers and acquisitions

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköpings universitet

Abstract: This thesis focuses on how customers are perceived in mergers and acquisitions. Mergers and acquisitions (M&As) are frequent, yet complex, phenomena in business life. One dimension making M&As complex is that they can affect (the merging companies' relationships to) other companies. With an M&A being a potential source of, for example, customer losses, one must ask how, and indeed whether, customers are taken into account in the M&A process, and what are the merging parties' notions concerning customers in relation to an M&A.This thesis takes a triangulation approach to the subject, including a literature and press release review and two case studies. The following is concluded: Customers are seldom focused on in the M&A literature, though they are commonly referred to indirectly, in an unproblematised way. By not considering customers as part of an M&A, the literature is neglecting an important aspect - one that has been emphatically recognised in business experience. In actual M&A practice, customers figure prominently in the underlying motives of M&As, and also when determining the degree of integration. Notions concerning customers are malleable, shifting during the course of tl1e M&A process, and also differ between the official view articulated in press releases, and in intra-company discussions regarding reasons for merging or acquiring. The official discourse commonly refers to customers indirectly and as targets, whereas they are treated as actors in intra-company discussions. Once M&A intentions are realised, the focus shifts from creating value to keeping value, and at this stage, customer considerations constrain the degree of integration. While there is no clear-cutline between the integration itself and a possible post-M&A phase, when evaluating an M&A the evaluation tools correspond to how customers are defined in official M&A motives.

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