In the field with Royal FrieslandCampina
In the Field-No.4

In the field with Royal FrieslandCampina

How can companies realize the expected return in a “merger of equals”?
9 min.
December 2016
At a glance

Two dairy cooperatives based in the Netherlands – Campina and Royal Friesland Foods – decided in 2007 to join forces in an effort to better navigate the increasingly competitive and changing European dairy landscape. Both cooperatives owned operating companies that would merge to form Royal FrieslandCampina (RFC) once the deal was approved by the European Union (EU). While waiting for the December 2008 EU decision, the Supervisory Board (SB) of the proposed new entity selected an outsider – Cees ‘t Hart – as CEO of Royal Friesland Foods. He went on to become the first CEO of the merged company. Although the ultimate owners of RFC were its nearly 20,000 member-farmers, the CEO reported to the cooperative’s SB, much like any publicly listed multinational. The CEO’s post-merger challenges were to integrate the two organizations, as well as to achieve ambitious revenue growth and cost-cutting targets. But the two companies had very different corporate cultures (see Figure 1). The new CEO, who had been leading one of the founding companies for only six months, faced multiple challenges. While leading the integration of these two distinct companies, he had to answer to multiple stakeholders, faced an uncertain external environment and had ambitious cost-cutting and revenue targets.   

Figure 1

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