Robert & Toby continue to unpack some of the worst M&A deals in corporate history and this week it's the disastrous $350 Billion merger / acquisition between AOL and Time Warner.
On the surface, this 1999 deal was the stuff of dreams and it made a lot of sense in many ways BUT - This was DOT.COM era, the bubble had just burst and high speed broadband internet was rapidly replacing Time Warners dial up modem technology. Worse still, the dream was never transformed into a clear vision. Significant cultural differences were completely ignored and there was a significant absence of any plan on how the dream was going to materialise into reality. Added to that is Toby's view that the two companies failed to consider how their respective capabilities could be combined for the greater good of the combined entities.
In many ways, this was a dream deal concocted over dinner by the respective CEO's. The dream had lots of lofty words and press releases but was never translated into into a meaningful vision, strategy and execution plan.
The end result in just 2 years was a MASSIVE $99 Billion write down and the final unwinding of the business in 2009
And a quote that Robert uses on the bottom of all his emails sums this up nicely
STRATEGY = EXECUTION. All the great ideas and visions in the world are worthless if they can't be implemented rapidly and efficiently" Colin Powell