Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Does Your Board Conduct After-Action Reviews for Acquisitions?

I learned yesterday that the Board of Directors of one major industrial firm in the US does regular after-action reviews on major acquisitions.  What a great practice!  What does this systematic practice achieve? First and foremost, we all know that acquisition proposals and valuations involve many assumptions (about things such as the amount of synergies, the discount rate, etc.).  Moreover, the valuations turn out to be HIGHLY SENSITIVE for some of those assumptions.  We also know that many deals don't turn out as advertised.  The after-action reviews not only allow the firm to reflect on past actions and adapt plans moving forward.  They also provide a measure of accountability that is desperately needed when it comes to pitching deals and capital investments.  Because managers know that the Board will revisit the deal pitch in the future, they will tend to be more "intellectually honest" when it comes to their assumptions about synergies and the like.  Hopefully, that accuracy will lead to better deals and more appropriate valuations.

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