What to Expect When Expecting… a Biotech Acquisition

What to Expect When Expecting… a Biotech Acquisition

What to Expect When Expecting… a Biotech Acquisition

We’ve all either been there in person or heard the stories. Acquisitions and mergers are all over and through the last 15 years in the industry, our office has seen our fair share. Just in Massachusetts alone, we saw Takeda and Millennium, Genzyme and Sanofi, Sepracor and DSP, MGI and Eisai, and more recently, the Shire and Abbvie deal still in process. That’s only to name a few of the larger moves around town, but there are numerous smaller companies locally and even larger deals across the country.

As Executive Recruiters, part of our role is that of a trusted confidant so we often find ourselves discussing this topic and it usually involves calming nerves. When the company you work for is bought by another company, it’s usually a company that has a different size, culture, and management. All of which you didn’t sign on for when you joined your current company. It can be a scary time.

We’ve noticed that there’s always the same stages people go through and here are few we’d like to share.

Stage 1: Worry

“Wow, my company was just acquired, this is great”, said nobody ever. They say that fear is simply the feeling of not knowing. If you walk into a room with no lights on, you don’t fear the black, you fear the unknown in the black. Some look at it as an acronym, False Evidence Appearing Real. That’s exactly what happens when the news breaks. Without details or facts about the future, people are forced to make up their own and we all naturally go to the worse case scenarios first.

Stage 2: Confusion

That’s when it sinks it and the questions start. What will I do? What is the timeline for knowing more? When will I know my fate? When does the deal go through? Will I have a severance or a retention package? If so, how much? Should I leave on my own terms or wait to see what package I might get? Will I have to relocate?

Stage 3: Anxiety

Ultimately, there’s always redundancy in any merger and acquisition. Therefore, there are layoffs. There’s no need to have two people doing a specific job, when one will suffice. At the executive level, there always has to be one strategic decision maker and when there are two people functions that are competing for the one combined role, most times it calls for a one person to find other employment. The question by everyone is always, will my job be redundant?

Stage 4: Clarity

This is when the details of the merger start becoming clearer and a plan has been laid out for everyone in the company to see. This is when people can really start making logical and informed decisions about their next steps, if any.

Stage 5: Acceptance

There’s comfort in knowing that you have options. Once the details become known, it gives you a purpose top get back to work again. Your purpose might be to impress the new boss or it might be to get out there and start interviewing.

Stage 6: Change

Whether we decide to change or not, change will always happen around us. Change might mean staying with the new company and changing business cards. Change may also be a move outside the company and into a setting that interests you more.

In the end, I always advise that people not pre-worry when you’re company is acquired. Mergers and acquisitions take time to evolve. You may not know more information for 6 months, or even as long as 18 months, so there’s no need to worry now. Take the information as it comes in, talk to trusted people in the industry, and always know that there is no wrong decision, just different paths.