GCI's new research service aims to put positive spin on mergers

NEW YORK: GCI has pushed PR further into the consulting space, launching a pro-merger research service to test whether two companies' cultures are compatible.

NEW YORK: GCI has pushed PR further into the consulting space, launching a pro-merger research service to test whether two companies' cultures are compatible.

Developed in collaboration with Berrier Associates (Philadelphia), GCI's M&A Cultural Compatibility Assessment is designed to give GCI and its clients a road map to understanding corporate mergers.

The service supports the business activities of GCI's consulting unit, but at the same time offers a valuable PR component, according to Jim Cox, EVP and managing director of the firm's North American corporate practice.

'The PR opportunity is to go beyond telling the story to really shaping the story and helping the organization come together,' Cox said. 'It's a lot easier to talk about a company that is a working success story.'

GCI's assessment examines and scores six key decision-making style attributes: risk-taking, high-risk tolerance, authoritative decision-making, long-planning cycle, structure and formal control/formal communications.

The idea for the assessment grew out of GCI's study of several major global mergers, such as British Petroleum and Amoco, Citicorp and Travelers and Daimler Benz and Chrysler.

'We started watching the big deals hitting bumps in the roads,' explained Cox. 'It was obvious they had some PR problems, but also some operational problems.'

The results of the M&A study indicated that negative news about mergers outweighed positive items in the US news media by 41.7% to 32.7%. One-third of the stories focused on the troubles of integrating corporate cultures and employee relations issues.

GCI's findings are supported by earlier studies from consultant firms A.T. Kearney, Mercer Management Consulting and PricewaterhouseCoopers, which found that mergers are likely to perform below expectations in terms of compatibility and stock prices.

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