Identifying strong governance for acquisition targets



When it comes to acquisitions, one of the key factors that can determine the success or failure of a deal is the governance structure of the target company. Strong governance is crucial for ensuring transparency, accountability, and effective decision-making, which are all essential for a smooth integration process and long-term value creation. In this article, we will explore the importance of identifying strong governance in acquisition targets and discuss some key indicators to look out for.

Understanding Governance in the Context of Acquisitions

Before delving into the specifics of identifying strong governance in acquisition targets, it is important to have a clear understanding of what governance entails in the context of mergers and acquisitions. Governance refers to the set of processes, policies, and structures that guide and control the actions of a company's management and its board of directors. It encompasses various aspects such as the decision-making process, risk management, compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, and the protection of shareholders' interests.

In the context of acquisitions, governance becomes even more critical as it directly impacts the integration process and the ultimate success of the deal. A target company with strong governance practices is more likely to have effective communication channels, a clear decision-making framework, and a culture of transparency and accountability. These factors can greatly facilitate the integration process and help the acquiring company achieve its strategic objectives.

Key Indicators of Strong Governance in Acquisition Targets

Identifying strong governance in acquisition targets requires a thorough assessment of various factors. Here are some key indicators to consider:

1. Board Independence: A target company with a board of directors that is independent from management is often seen as a positive sign. Independent directors can provide unbiased perspectives, challenge management decisions, and ensure that the interests of shareholders are adequately represented.

2. Board Diversity: Diversity within the boardroom, in terms of gender, ethnicity, and professional backgrounds, is increasingly recognized as a crucial component of effective governance. A diverse board brings different perspectives and experiences to the table, leading to better decision-making and risk management.

3. Executive Compensation: The alignment of executive compensation with the long-term interests of shareholders is an important indicator of good governance. Compensation packages that are tied to performance metrics and include equity-based incentives can incentivize executives to act in the best interests of the company and its shareholders.

4. Risk Management: A target company with a robust risk management framework is better equipped to identify and mitigate potential risks. This includes having clear policies and procedures in place, as well as a dedicated risk management function that regularly assesses and monitors risks.

5. Transparency and Disclosure: Transparent and timely disclosure of information is essential for building trust and maintaining credibility with stakeholders. A target company that has a track record of providing comprehensive and accurate disclosures is more likely to have strong governance practices.

6. Shareholder Rights: The protection of shareholder rights is a fundamental aspect of good governance. This includes ensuring that shareholders have the right to vote on important matters, access to relevant information, and the ability to hold management accountable.

Due Diligence in Assessing Governance

To identify strong governance in acquisition targets, conducting thorough due diligence is crucial. This involves a comprehensive review of the target company's governance documents, policies, and practices. It may also involve interviews with key stakeholders, including board members, senior management, and external advisors.

During the due diligence process, it is important to assess not only the existence of governance structures and policies but also their effectiveness and adherence. This can be done by reviewing board meeting minutes, assessing the track record of the board in challenging management decisions, and evaluating the company's compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.

Additionally, it is important to consider the cultural aspects of governance. A company with a strong culture of integrity, ethical behavior, and accountability is more likely to have effective governance practices. This can be assessed through conversations with employees, reviewing the company's code of conduct, and evaluating its history of ethical conduct.


In conclusion, identifying strong governance in acquisition targets is essential for ensuring the success of a deal. Strong governance practices contribute to effective decision-making, transparency, and accountability, which are all crucial for a smooth integration process and long-term value creation. By assessing indicators such as board independence, diversity, executive compensation, risk management, transparency, and shareholder rights, acquirers can gain valuable insights into the target company's governance practices. Thorough due diligence, including a review of governance documents, policies, and practices, as well as interviews with key stakeholders, is necessary to assess the effectiveness and adherence to governance practices. By prioritizing strong governance in the acquisition process, acquirers can increase the likelihood of a successful deal and create long-term value for both the acquiring and target companies.

13 October 2023
Written by John Roche