A company that does not perform adequate due diligence prior to a merger or acquisition may face both legal and business risks. Perhaps, most commonly, inadequate due diligence can allow a course of bribery to continue—with all the attendant harms to a business’s profitability and reputation, as well as potential civil and criminal liability. In contrast, companies that conduct effective FCPA due diligence on their acquisition targets can evaluate more accurately each target’s value and negotiate for the costs of the bribery to be borne by the target. Equally important is that if a company engages in the suggested actions, they will go a long way toward insulating, or at least lessening, the risk of FCPA liability going forward.
It should all begin with a preliminary pre-acquisition assessment of risk. Such an early assessment will inform the transaction research and evaluation phases. This could include an objective view of the risks faced and the level of risk exposure, such as best/worst case scenarios. A pre-acquisition risk assessment could also be used as a “lens through which to view the feasibility of the business strategy” and help to value the potential target.
The next step is to develop the risk assessment as a base document. From this document, you should be able to prepare a focused series of queries and requests to be obtained from the target company. Thereafter, company management can use this pre-acquisition risk assessment to attain what might be required in the way of integration, post-acquisition. It would also help to inform how the corporate and business functions may be affected. It should also assist in planning for timing and anticipation of the overall expenses involved in post-acquisition integration. These costs are not insignificant and they should be thoroughly evaluated in the decision-making calculus.