The importance of cultural symbols in acquisitions

Big Acquisitions Can Fall Apart Over Tiny Details
by Freek Vermeulen and Ashraf Zaman

In September 2005, Alphahealth*, a large American healthcare company acquired the British company Pharmateam*.

Pharmateam was an ideal target. With just a few hundred employees, the company was relatively small and affordably priced, but it had a solid product portfolio, over a century of history, and healthy financials. Moreover, it was a private company so that at the right price, all the shares could be acquired quite easily and rapidly. Alphahealth expected it to be their entry point into the British market. Management proudly announced the deal as part of its strategy of foreign expansion.

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