The Case Centre’s top 40 bestselling cases

Twelfth place - Nestle-Rowntree (B).
The case
Case: Nestle-Rowntree (B) Shouldice Hospital Ltd.
Authors: James Ellert, J. Peter Killing, and Dana G. Hyde
Institution: IMD
Ref: IMD-3-0424
Date published: 1989

Following Nestle’s hostile bid for Rowntree, this case ends at a breaking point in the process, placing students in the middle of a critical negotiation session attended by the most senior executives of the two companies. The case is written from Nestle's point of view, and raises questions about the takeover price and the potential integration and organisation of the business following the acquisition.

This is the second of a three-case series that traces the £2.5 billion takeover of Rowntree by Nestle in 1988. Nestle-Rowntree (A) is also a top-selling case. 

The authors

James Ellert is Professor of Finance and Strategy at IMD.

Peter Killing is Professor of Strategy at IMD.

Dana G. Hyde is now an Assistant Professor at the Telfer School of Management, Ottawa, Canada, and sits on The Case Centre’s Board.

The teacher

Duncan Angwin Duncan Angwin is a Professor in the Department of Business and Management at Oxford Brookes University Business School, UK. He explains why the case is unusual and its appeal to students.

I have taught this case over 50 times now, mostly on MBA and executive educations courses. There are very few cases which actually take a process view of merger and acquisition (M&A) and allow students to immerse themselves in parts of the deal as it unfolds. This case allows student participation and the DVD enables them to feel close to the actual protagonists. It also captures some of the emotional content of M&A which is not conveyed in texts in general. Finally, I think it brings out an element of practice which is often poorly conveyed in written materials: how an academic judgement can be made fairly easily about the best outcome for these two companies – until one has to take a side and negotiate the outcome.

Wide variety of issues

The case is quite tightly prescribed for good reason, so there is not much room for flexibility in terms of how it is run, but the format allows a wide variety of issues to emerge and this richness is very attractive. The open format of the case means that students with different backgrounds and experiences can bring quite different insights to bear on the same issue. This relates not only to students from a range of geographic and cultural backgrounds, but also the range of work experiences that they have. This allows me to explore some very interesting topics relevant to M&A which were not part of the authors’ original conceptualisation of the M&A process. Furthermore, as time has moved on since the case was written, the M&A landscape has changed significantly which also brings further richness to discussions. Students find the accompanying DVD particularly interesting. 

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