As an executive search consultant, mentions of M&A activity are always exciting.
They can bring opportunity for ‘change agents’ to lead the integration of cultures and teams, spark activity across the relevant industry sector and create a ‘healthy’ level of uncertainty amongst employees across both organisations. The latter often leads to conversations with some of the most talented executives and other professionals in the market – a welcome addition to the working week.
Then there are mentions of, what could have been, one of the largest corporate takeovers in history:
Kraft Heinz + Unilever?
Despite 3G Capital (the private equity firm that runs Kraft Heinz) and its previous activity (see AB InBev + SABMiller), there was still widespread surprise amongst analysts that their target would be the size of the Anglo-Dutch personal care company. But with KH’s decision to walk away from talks, following Unilever’s stiff opposition to the approach, we are left to wonder what could have become had Unilever accepted the takeover bid of $143 billion.
It is the sheer scale of this ‘could-be’ merger between the two consumer giants in the market and the constant undercurrent of rumour and other mid-market acquisitions that serve as honest reminders that business is exciting, strategy and change are exciting and making connections with senior individuals in across some of the world’s most successful businesses is exciting.
Executive search can often be shunned by other recruitment consultants for being a lethargic process, drawing out over months of interviews and candidate profiling, with the potential fall at the last hurdle undoing a significant amount of energy and work. I would argue that showing patience and due diligence from initial engagement with a candidate and client throughout the placement process, not only make the reward of a successful placement all the more meaningful but also form better working relationships leading to future opportunities.
Whilst “Kreinzlever” seemingly will not be happening anytime soon, I will continue to enjoy engaging in conversations with individuals from both businesses and others across the consumer-goods industry patiently waiting for the next big event – knowing full well that I am in a unique, and frankly, lucky position to be so close to the beating heart of business.
Written by Daniel Bull, Walter James.