Multi-business strategy dynamics

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Extending the strategy dynamics principles to related businesses is essentially simple. If a single business is a system of customers, products, capacity, people and cash, then a multi-business corporation could simply be a number of such independent systems. Indeed, that was a popular model in the 1970s – the diversified conglomerate, in which only investment and financial-objective choices were made at the centre. But this is now a discredited model because investors can make those decisions ...

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Strategy error by Kraft?

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Kraft foods finally won control of Cadbury with a big £11.9 billion ($19.4b) offer. Warren Buffet, owner of 9% of Kraft, says it’s a bad deal – and he’s rarely wrong. Will Kraft do the usual and try to extract ‘synergies’ by slashing costs, or deliver real value by leveraging the combined resources to drive medium- to long-term growth in cash flows? … and will analysts allow them to do it right?

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Great M&A opportunities

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Can’t always tell if some insight has subtle power or is just stating the blindingly obvious? Me neither.  BCG says Seize M&A opportunities while they last and presents the usual financial ratio research to prove that acquisitions in a downturn generate better returns than those made in the upturn.

Why is this surprising – when targets’ values in the upturn will inevitably reflect the underlying growth, to which an acquiror has to add for the deal to generate value? Still, even if obvious, ...

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eBay/Skype split

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Sad to see the ill-fated marriage of eBay and Skype end in divorce. Though it’s more fun to celebrate strategy triumphs, disasters can offer important lessons too. An Economist article focuses on the sale itself and worries about eBay’s prospects, but doesn’t assess why the original strategy didn’t work. At its most basic, it was a common issue – over-optimism about how business A customers would form a strong and easily-captured potential customer-base for business B. [I made the same mistake ...

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Aims – growth, survival …

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I made a strong case in a previous post that strategy research should have been asking how strong firms grow cash flows, not deliver profit ratios. I had two main push-backs – 1. is growth relevant in present conditions? – 2. survival is really all that matters. 

The first is easily dealt with – stronger cash flow ‘growth’ than rivals can of course imply less decline when everyone is going backwards .. would you rather cash-flows fell by ...

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