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M&A or when an international group (Windsor) needs to integrate a promising start-up (Meghan)

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

International media is still abuzz with Megxit – simply put, the crisis between Meghan and Elizabeth II. Pryia and I think we know why. Here's our business decoding of this family fallout.

The Big Company

The British royal family is an influential, elaborate, vibrant and revered international group. Not so long ago, this ‘company’ ruled over half of humanity. So please do bow down! And the living, breathing CEO of this group is - Queen Elizabeth II of England.

Elizabeth is a sensitive leader with deep feelings. However, she does hide these feelings well. This is a woman who has been breaking gender stereotypes throughout her life. The longest reigning monarch in the world, she wears the crown and calls the shots in a macho, aristocratic world. Elizabeth, if by some miracle you are reading this, let me open my heart to you: You are a great woman. Please invite me to share this with you in person at Buckingham!

Prospects and Opportunities

Elizabeth has, like every CEO, an obsession: GROWTH. It is her task to leave Charles a stronger, bigger, more powerful kingdom than when she was coronated. Now, there are only two kinds of growth in the world -

Growth by "acquisition": these are the (somewhat arranged) marriages of princes and princesses. The equivalent of the M&A of our companies, if you prefer.

Organic growth: generated from the reproductive organs of the princely couples who work together to produce such well-dressed babies every year. The equivalent in business may be the products and services that are designed through in-house R&D and offered in the market.

Elizabeth's motto is an accepted rule in business: "You don't change a winning strategy". At the House of Windsor, the M&A policy was to marry distant cousins to consolidate the kingdom, to gain power without competing. A bit like the endogamous merger of Fiat Chrysler with Peugeot Citroen, coincidentally, also large family-run businesses.

Ifs and Buts

But beware! After the wedding and the honeymoon, begins a less glamorous period - that of Post Merger Integration (PMI). It is safe to sum it up by stating the cliché - honey, the honeymoon is over! In the company, as in the royal couple, it is important to establish early on, who the dominant party is. For the dominated, it is either submit or walk out". Romantic idealists often wake up with a jolt from this nightmare. That's why there are so many break ups early in the relationship.

Before I tell you everything about what the Windsor-Meghan merger and it’s relationship with the business world, let's recap a little and go to the night of August 31, 1997. Lady Di dies in Paris, pursued by the paparazzi, while her son Harry sleeps at his grandmother's house. It is Elizabeth who consoles him when he is inconsolable and who holds him to her breast in this terrible moment. Harry will forever remember listening to his grandmother's heartbeat that night when his own mother's heart ceased to beat permanently.

The Start-up

Getting back to our topic of interest - acquisitions - 20 years later, Harry has grown up and now wants to find, like Cinderella, the right shoe for him. He wants to enter into a loving, reliable marriage and procreate some little kings. So when he meets Meghan, a beauty inside as well as out, it's love at first sight.

Buckingham's trendy therapists and coaches applaud because Meghan isn't an imitation of Diana. She has already had men in her life and will greatly enrich the Windsor gene pool with her exotic origins.

The Windsor M&A committee, meanwhile, is only marginally enthusiastic. Passion is not in the list of criteria for rapprochement. "Remember, dear committee members, our young Charles' passion for Camilla was responsible for the failure of the Lady Di merger. You remember, I suppose, the bad R.O.I. of this operation. So, big NO to mergers of passion. Big YES to mergers of calculation", the Committee Chairman asserts.

But that’s not what the digital natives of the family believe. They want to get rid of this traditional mindset and leap into the investment involving a disruptive start-up: California Meghan, bottle-fed in Silicon Valley. They believe that without innovation, empires sink in less time than it takes to say it! That the merger between this commoner and our red-haired prince is not a threat to the crown, but a historic opportunity to top the corporate diversity goals!

Strategic acquisition

The Queen, who has a flair for business, says "Yes" to her grandson, who hastens to say "Yes" to Meghan. This future unicorn jumps for joy, believing she's living a Disney-style fairy tale. And Élizabeth, with her sense of the all-British formula, announces on Twitter: "This merger is the beginning of a strategy of diversification towards regaining notoriety on social networks so as to no longer be under pressure from the tabloids”.

That night, I am overjoyed in front of my TV: Reason and Passion are finally recognized as the Yin and Yang of strategic choices! Hats off to Elizabeth! And, my god! A baby is born within the year. The Windsor's popularity is now rising faster than the Dow Jones.

Integration issues and deal failure

But here's the fatal mistake: the Queen, like so many companies, integrates this promising start-up like an endogamous company. Elizabeth has stuck to her old logic of integration.

But Meghan is not modern, she is postmodern. She's a self-assured businesswoman with a grudge. She doesn't want to make a profit by marrying Prince Charming, but wants to change the world. She wants to turn red into a glamorous colour, convert the Windsor into the very example of frugality, or even change the royal pastime of hunting into wildlife photography. She doesn't wait for her life to unfold vicariously while the world rumbles and transforms itself under her balconies. So, when she is asked to submit to the hierarchy rather than assert her individuality, the couple leaves the Royal Family and exits Great Britain! As for the Windsor family - it trembles at the thought of seeing its investment go down the drain.

Moral of the story

The integration of a start-up has absolutely nothing to do with the PMI of an endogamous acquisition.

Elizabeth, there's still time to turn the tide! Integrating a start-up means trusting it. It's not asking for its submission, but offering it a new challenge. Take inspiration from the Walmart-Flipkart union where Walmart emphasizes that the Indian unicorn, Flipkart will continue to run as an independent company with Walmart representatives getting three-four seats on the board, making it less than a majority of the board.

Leaders in charge of M&As, contact us for a coaching of your PMI teams before it's too late!

God save the Queen and long live Harry & Meghan.


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