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Merger lessons from newly merged MGI Danish firm ‘Redmark’

23rd May 2014

MGI World Merger lessons from newly merged MGI Danish firm ‘Redmark’

MGI member firm rgd revision recently merged with Nielsen & Christensen to create ‘Redmark’, the eighth largest certified public accounting firm in Denmark. The new accounting and consulting firm has close to 200 employees spread out over offices in Aalborg, Aarhus, Aars and Copenhagen. 

Member focus on Morten Ryberg, former chairman of rgd revision and a key figure in the firm’s recent merger with Nielsen & Christensen.

The experience gained by rgd revision during this process could offer some useful insight for MGI member firms considering a similar move. As the accountancy profession changes and there is growing pressure on firms to pool resources, mergers and acquisitions are likely to become even more common.

For Morten Ryberg, chairman of rgd revision, this was not a new thing; it was in fact the firm’s second merger. That offered a headstart, but the process of combining two firms always throws up different challenges.

“We did not agree on everything, but the negotiations were held in a good and respectful atmosphere which of course made the decision much easier,” he says.

Another aspect in their favour was that the two firms have been leading members of the same national network. Clearly ongoing collaboration with other firms has its benefits.

“This means that we knew each other quite well and knew that we could work together,” adds Morten.

“Therefore it didn't take long to set the new vision for our common company, because we already had a very good idea of each others views, and we knew that they were similar to our own.”

The main challenge was the integration

There were of course some differences and the new company is still working on the integration of systems. But as with virtually any merger the real task is getting people to gel.

“Our biggest challenge is probably the integration of our employees, employee terms and HR functions. We cannot and should not deny that each firm has its own corporate culture, and that we still have a lot of work in front of us. However we have so far been able to find compromises that satisfies both parties,” says Morten.

How being part of MGI has been an advantage

Morten also thinks that being part of the MGI network has helped. Rather than moving to Praxity, of which Nielsen & Christensen was a member, Redmark is staying with MGI.

“We in MGI have a strong Nordic Circle with close and proven co-operation between the member firms.

“So when all is said and done, besides MGI being a well run and ambitious organisation, the main reason why we stayed with MGI is, that MGI have good, quality members in our area.”

MGI also assisted the new firm in its branding and logo - an area that is in itself no small task for two firms seeking to merge.

How the two firms managed the rebrand

One of the toughest things about a merger is maintaining each firm’s individual identity - which can be crucial to retaining clients and standing in a community - while also creating a fresh brand image that more closely matches the vision of the new entity.

We’ll be talking to Morten some more about the specifics of the rebanding in a separate member feature to follow this one.

Morten Ryberg’s tips for mergers:

  • Make sure all partners are mentally prepared: “You shouldn’t merge because you have to, but because you want to.  Both parties have to be ready to give up some of their independence, and be ready to be challenged on the ways they do things. And in an audit firm with 10 or more partners this isn't as simple as it sounds.
     
  • Focus on your deal breakers: “You cannot bring every little detail into the negotiations, even if it can be difficult for an accountant who likes to be on top of everything.”
     
  • Be open and honest: “If you don't trust the people that you are negotiating with, you shouldn't be there in the first place. If one of the parties retain important information about differences or significant problem within the company, it will not only cause major challenges afterwards, but more importantly you will lose the confidence among each other, which makes it very difficult to run a business together.”

You can find more information on the merger in our member news area. To learn more about Redmark, head to the website, or the firm’s MGI member profile page.

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