Roland Berger Strategy Consultants remains independent

19 December 2013 Consultancy.uk

The decision has been made: Roland Berger Strategy Consultants will remain independently. A large majority of the partner team of the strategic consulting firm voted in favour of this yesterday evening. As a result, the sale to a counterpart is averted, which allows Roland Berger to build on the actualization of the new strategy in peace.

Roland Berger underwent an extensive ‘strategic review’ in recent months. Yesterday, it was D-day – the approximately 250 partners from all over the world flew in to determine the new course of the consulting firm. Commenting on the day, CEO Burkhard Schwenker said that “several interesting options were discussed”, of which the most serious were: independence or a merger with EY.

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In the run-up to the partner meeting, it was leaked that the global governance had already made its decision in fact, namely to continue independently. By the end of the day, a large majority of the partners was also convinced and the verdict carried out. Subsequently, the new strategy was discussed and the measures that need to be taken to realize the new course.

Culture clash
The decision of the partner team yet again illustrates how delicate it is for strategy consultants to give up their autonomy to large multi-service firms such as the Big4. For Roland Berger, it is the second time they vote against an acquisition – in 2010 it was against Deloitte and yesterday it was against EY. Reason for the difficulties is the clash between the two cultures. In addition, other factors make mergers complicated, such as the different way of working, the type of assignments and different salary frameworks. For example, the marriage between A.T. Kearney and EDS ended up in a disaster, and Arthur D. Little also never really found its place at Altran.

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The question is: will Roland Berger's decision be a harbinger for the partners of Booz & Company? In a week’s time they will come together to vote on the bid put in by PwC, estimated to be roughly $1 billion. The global management team has already accepted the offer, and now it is up to the partners to decide on the fate of the strategy consulting firm. 

Heritage
The rescue or Roland Berger will undoubtedly be received well by the strategy consulting industry, a sector which is struggling as a whole with the new market conditions. Roland Berger’s continuing to operate independently also means that Europe still has something to be proud of in the landscape that is dominated by the American giants McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Booz and A.T. Kearney. Roland Berger was founded in 1967 by a German consultant that holds the same name, and has since grown to be the only European consulting firm that globally ranks in the top 5 on the league tables.

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