Purpose – Mergers and acquisitions are among the most intensely used strategic decisions. Yet research by both academics and consulting groups suggests that many mergers and acquisitions fail to add value. On the other hand there are many companies that successfully use mergers and acquisition to grow and add shareholder value. One such company is WPP. The aim of this paper is to explore why WPP has been successful in its acquisition strategy while so many other companies fail. Design/methodology/approach – The paper draws on documentary evidence and a semi‐structured interview with Sir Martin Sorrell – Chief Executive and founder of WPP. Research limitations/implications – The case study offers a unique insight into thinking of a successful acquirer and sheds light on how mergers and acquisitions are managed by WPP. However, because of its design the findings are not generalisable. Originality/value – This case study sheds light on how mergers and acquisitions can be used to create a £9 billion company from a standing start. Furthermore, very few case studies offer insight into the thinking of entrepreneurial Chief Executives who established the business, grew it to become the largest and most profitable marketing services company in the world and engineered close to 300 acquisitions.
Journal of Strategy and Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 9, 2011
Keywords: Acquisitions and mergers; Strategic decisions; Strategic leadership; Growth
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