Foster-Cheek on Acquisition Strategy

By Jessica Marquez

Nov. 8, 2006

    WM: In June, Johnson & Johnson announced the $16.6 billion acquisition of Pfizer’s consumer health care business. How early on did you get involved in the deal?

    Foster-Cheek: Clearly [I’m involved] on the due diligence side. Even though I am head of HR, I am also on the executive committee as a corporate officer. As we consider large-scale acquisitions the size of Pfizer, I would be involved in the upfront work before we make the decision to acquire the company. That early work around the financial analysis and valuation is work that occurs within the executive committee.

    Further down, I sit on the steering committee for the Pfizer consumer health care acquisition. The steering committee has accountability for the high-level future organizational design and really ensuring that integration runs well. I have an HR leader for the consumer business of Johnson & Johnson who oversees the acquisition in terms of the organizational design.

    WM: At what point do you start assessing talent before an acquisition?

    Foster-Cheek: Immediately. That is part of the assessment of the acquisition. We think about things like “Does this give us access to growth markets that we aren’t currently in? What is the reputation in the marketplace of the talent of the organization?” And you can do that by looking at the business performance of the talent. I think about what is going to be required to run the future organization, and that is something I do with the HR leaders of the business.

    With the Pfizer business, I have a little bit of insight, since I worked at Pfizer for 13 years. Part of the valuation is the talent we are going to get. Literally from the minute we ink the deal, we do as much as we can under Federal Trade Commission rules, since we are still competitors until the deal closes. We use any public information that we have access to and use that to do early integration planning.

    WM: How important is that?

    Foster-Cheek: We do so many acquisitions, and our historic growth has been through acquisitions. This Pfizer acquisition will be the largest in our history. You need to have your HR professionals in from the very beginning because that is how you know you are putting together processes to allow the organization to function properly.

Workforce Management, October 23, 2006, p. 21Subscribe Now!

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