The Importance of Customers in Mergers and Acquisitions
Abstract: The aim of the thesis is to identify categories and patterns of how customers impact and are impacted by an M&A. In M&A (merger and acquisition) research the focus is traditionally on the M&A parties alone, and while customers are important elements of the motives behind M&As, they are rarely seen as actors affecting and being affected by an M&A.This thesis researches M&As from M&A parties’ and customers’ perspectives. It categorises and connects M&A parties’ activities related to expectations and activities of customers, with customers’ activities at the acquisition point and at integration.Based on findings from eight M&As, the thesis concludes that customers may be the reasons why companies merge or acquire. Customers may react to the M&A announcement if it involves companies the customers do not want to have relationships with, or based on the fact that customers perceive the M&A as turbulent, for instance. Customer actions, and M&A parties reconsidering their initial intentions, affect integration strategies. The realisation of integration is in turn impacted by customers’ resistance to buy according to M&A parties’ intentions and by customers actively objecting to integration.In short, customers impact M&As through: (i) being a reason to merge or acquire, where the M&A aims at acquirer’s or acquired party’s customers, or markets/positions, and where the M&A is a responsive activity to customers’ previous activities or is based on expectations on customers; (ii) customer reactions or changed buying behaviour; (iii) M&A parties’ pre-integration reconsideration; and (iv) post-integration difficulties, whereby customers impact integration realisation through not seeing the benefit of the M&A and thereby continue to buy as previously, through objecting to integration or through dissolving relationships.Customers are impacted by M&As through: (i) the M&A as possibility for change; (ii) ownership changes, which may lead to changes in competition structures; and (iii) forced integration.This means that the impact that customers have on M&As are both results of their own actions, and also of the expectations that the M&A parties have on customers.Important findings from this thesis concern adjustments of initial M&A intentions, how integration may be resisted so as not to challenge ongoing relationships, and how customers (often) make it difficult to achieve initial M&A goals and integration as the customers do not act in accordance with the integration intentions of the parties involved in the M&A.
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