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Deals from Hell: M&A Lessons that Rise Above the Ashes Paperback – April 13, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (April 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470452595
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470452592
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #404,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"engages in the kind of candid thinking that has long been missing from the high stack of books." ("The Wall Street Journal," May 26, 2005) "According to the author, six key elements embedded in disasters are 'complexity, tight coupling, management choices, cognitive biases, business not as usual, and failure of the operational team.' In unison, these are lethal, he cautions. 'Systems that adapt well to error anticipate it, actively seek information, use checkpoints to control the spread of error, and invite countervailing forces to oppose error.' So, what's the insight for businesses? 'Design of organisation structures and business processes could employ similar principles to thwart M&A failures, ' counsels Bruner. Part II of the book has ten case studies, including AOL-Time Warner, Mattel-The Learning Company, and Renault-Volvo. Part III is about conclusions and implications'. Bruner dins in before parting: 'The growth that matters is growth in economic value. The rest is smoke.' Fiery read!" -- D. Murali, The Hindu Business Line

From the Inside Flap

Given the sheer complexity of M&A deals, it's easy to see why so many of them fall short of their intended goals. Although mergers and acquisitions are no easy path to riches, it's definitely not a loser's game either. With the right attitude and understanding, it is possible to succeed in the world of mergers and acquisitions, and Robert Bruner, one of the foremost thinkers and educators in this field, wants to show you how.

The study of failure is the source of thoughtful advances, and in Deals from Hell: M&A Lessons That Rise Above the Ashes, Bruner focuses on M&A failures to help you achieve M&A success. Comprised of three information-packed parts—The Foundations of M&A Failure; Case Studies of M&A Failures; and Avoiding the Deal from Hell—this comprehensive guide offers a realistic look at how M&A transactions really work.

By addressing the key factors of M&A failure and success, Deals from Hell illustrates the best ways to analyze, design, and implement your own M&A deals. You'll gain valuable perspectives from the standpoint of previous research, and through ten real-world case studies, you'll discover how little an M&A situation must differ in order to deliver rather different results. Some of the cases examined include:

  • AOL and Time Warner
  • The acquisition of Snapple by Quaker Oats
  • The acquisition of Columbia Pictures by Sony Corporation
  • Renault's proposed merger with Volvo
  • Mattel's acquisition of The Learning Company
  • The acquisition program of Tyco International

All of the cases presented are paired with a counterpoint or complementary case. The comparison cases are not intended to be deals from heaven—they're merely examples of how thin the line is between M&A success and failure. After you've become familiar with the research and cases outlined in the first two sections of the book, Bruner concludes his M&A discussion with a look at the implications of these deals for CEOs, investors, and those concerned with public policy.

Filled with in-depth insights, expert advice, and valuable lessons gleaned from notably bad M&A transactions, Deals from Hell will change the way you think about M&A and help you understand—as well as anticipate—the obstacles to M&A success. --This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By J H Murphy on July 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In general, I found this book a worthwhile expenditure of time. I am not an M&A professional, but I work for a company which has made several acquisitions and some of the issues in this book are common to many M&A deals.

It's obvious that the book was written by a college professor, and the footnotes should be read as well as the chapters to get the full picture. At the same time, the case studies seem to be well chosen to exemplify the classes of problem he addresses.

The book starts with a comparison of M&A problems to other fiascos and disasters. This is useful up to a point - I did not find it overdone, although it's not a typical start to a business book. The author then outlines six areas which cause M&A disasters. Some, like financing complexity, are obvious. Others, like "Tight coupling" of business operations, are less so, but worth the time to consider.

The rest of the book comprises chapters dealing with various problem mergers. These are usually presented in contrast to a successful merger or acquisition later in the chapter, illustrating how some of the pitfalls in the fiasco were avoided in another, similar M&A deal.

I would have liked to see more about how to evaluate synergy in M&A deals - but that's probably another book.

If you or your company have anything to do with M&A, this will probably be a worthwhile read. The presentation is dry, but the cases are a good selection, and the author's points merit consideration. It will certainly give me some food for thought when my company makes another acquisition!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Vitruvius on April 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Professor Bruner's new book is brimming with important ideas for managers, policymakers, and academics alike. Ten failed mergers are discussed in depth ranging from Penn Central in 1968 to Tyco in 2002. Each case study includes both quantitative and qualitative evaluations of the component companies and the results of their mergers. The author's facility with case studies has been honed over thousands of cases, and his experience shows in his well-rounded discussions.

This book seems targeted at a professional audience-- it digs deep enough to inform even the most knowledgeable managers and academics-- but it is also readable by a general audience. The ten case studies present compelling narratives of major failures that changed the way everyone does business. Even those without any particular interest in management will find the history interesting. A close reading of this book will especially benefit policymakers who are concerned by the social costs of business failure.

In a field where the stakes are tremendously high, it's important to learn why the major failures have occurred. "Deals from Hell" is the perfect teacher.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ouistiti on October 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a very great book. After a few chapters about the major common mistakes in M&A where he provides a framework for M&A failures, he studies a few cases i ndetail, why these M&A did not work. And he always gives a counterpoint, an example of a M&A, in the same conditions, where they worked. Very interesting!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By JWalter on July 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
While probably a good reference for the B-school student, and certainly factually accurate, this book is extremely dry, dwelling on the some of the arcane technical aspects of why these M&A deals failed. Great for someone who structures these for a living, but not exactly a page turner for those outside of Wall Street.

I felt it might have been more informative and compelling if there was a better discussion of some of the broader motives involved and more exploration of some of the interesting (and infamous) characters who were responsible for these failed deals.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Skeptic on March 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"Deals From Hell" contains a lot of very useful information, but it is sometimes organized in ways that distract from, rather than augmenting, the material. For instance, I couldn't bring myself to buy into Bruner's metaphorical assertion that all mergers and acquisitions are local, which he uses as the foundation of a framework for evaluating "the neighborhood" in which a merger takes place. Also: while each of the case studies is interesting, some support his themes better than others. One or two of them seem out of place in this book.

The author does a great job of driving home his six factors present in most failed mergers, providing examples of each of those factors in the case studies he provides.

Don't let the criticisms keep you from reading this informative book.
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