Britton Law, P.A.
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Maintaining company culture after an acquisition

North Carolina entrepreneurs understand that they set the tone for a company culture and establish its mission. When a large company acquires a smaller startup, the small company might expect to lose its identity, but steps can be taken to ensure that the company maintains its valuable attributes that attracted the buyer in the first place.

The example of Plum Organics after its acquisition by the Campbell Soup Company proves informative. From the beginning, the CEO wanted to preserve the mission of the organic baby food company. He achieved that goal by reincorporating the business as a public benefit corporation owned by Campbell. The corporate bylaws included language about the company's mission of selling high-quality food and social responsibility.

The CEO had also overseen the development of the company culture at Plum and wanted to maintain it going forward within the Campbell structure. During the acquisition, he wrote down the values that defined the culture at Plum. This created a framework for future employees to understand the company's guiding principles and follow them into the future.

Any businessperson involved in a merger or acquisition should consider obtaining the services of an attorney familiar with buying and selling businesses. Numerous negotiations and documents will be needed to accomplish the transaction, and an attorney could help the client manage the details and understand rights and obligations. Legal advice could guide the development of the terms that establish new roles for company leaders or their exit strategies. The terms of the purchase agreement and financing might also benefit from legal review.

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