M&A integration: developing a global playbook
Dentsu International, the global media agency group, needed to better manage its integrations during mergers and acquisitions (M&A). The group had to ensure all new acquisitions aligned with the company’s strategy to become a fully integrated solutions provider to better meet client requirements.
Operating in more than 145 countries around the world, the company was, at the time, executing an average of one acquisition every two weeks. Considerable effort was required to integrate each acquisition, with technology integration a clear prerequisite for successfully meeting the goals of the acquisition business case.
The technology function – Dentsu International Technology – asked Berkeley to develop a Global Technology M&A Playbook to enable clear, consistent and efficient integration. Two Berkeley consultants worked with the client’s technology and M&A teams for six months to create a Playbook that could be globally governed and locally delivered.
Berkeley's expertise in creating the M&A playbook from scratch while collecting input from all areas of Dentsu International Technology was extremely helpful to my team. It was also extremely gracefully transitioned to business as usual in a way that I haven't seen other consulting firms do.”
Paul Timmins, CIO Global Operations
Before we could recommend the journey, we had to know where Dentsu International wanted to go. What was the aspiration? We first had to identify the key M&A requirements for different areas within Technology and the corresponding target end states.
Our consultants then developed the Playbook, detailing a clear framework to be used consistently for mergers and acquisitions across the group. Berkeley set out key roles and responsibilities, and then was actively involved in recruiting for newly required roles.
Our considerable experience in operating model development meant we were well-placed to build an effective, tailored Playbook for Dentsu International, helping our client bridge the gap between ambition and concrete outcomes.
We also created a number of enabling documents to underpin the Playbook, such as due diligence questions, a financial model, and an integration blueprint.
At Berkeley, we pride ourselves on how we work with stakeholders, going beyond engagement to active partnership. This is fundamental to our approach to driving long-lasting, sustainable change, which is particularly important in the context of an integration after a merger or acquisition. We never create and impose a new set of rules on an unwilling audience.
We partnered with Dentsu International to carefully secure stakeholder input and buy-in that would allow the Playbook to succeed. We identified and engaged more than 100 stakeholders across EMEA, APAC and the Americas. Our consultants created virtual teams within these regions, acting as the link between global functions and end-users in their respective markets.
Our approach ensured that the key people were able to input into and shape the Playbook design and interact with and adapt the final outputs. Working together, we made sure that the Playbook would be adopted to achieve real business results.
We established an ongoing system of reporting and tracking to further bring the Technology and M&A communities together. Using a newly created M&A pipeline, the community could identify upcoming mergers and acquisitions to test the new methodology detailed in the M&A Playbook.
Adopting the Playbook meant the Technology team was able to fully view and report on their M&A integration activity for the first time – at that time, there were more than 50 live mergers and acquisitions. Through partnering with Berkeley, Dentsu International Technology could better prioritize and control its M&A integration efforts.”
The Playbook also allowed the Technology team to be much more actively involved with other parts of Dentsu International earlier in the M&A lifecycle, enabling a shift toward Technology-led deals.
Those involved in the first acquisition (potentially worth more than $100m) to adopt the Playbook framework stated the “the overall process benefited greatly” from its creation, leading directly to the level of integration that Dentsu International wanted to achieve.