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The Importance of IT Risk Management in M&A

The Importance of IT Risk Management in M&A

Two experts break down critical considerations in merger and acquisition activity

Information & technology (IT) is a critical component in achieving an M&A strategy; without effective IT risk management, the value of the deal could be threatened or even eroded. IT risk management is a multi-disciplinary undertaking, and covers a variety of functional domains--ranging from data protection to change management. (See "Common IT Risk Management Areas") It is also a multi-faceted and complex undertaking that also entails consideration of a wide array of compliance requirements. As such, in a business environment with increasing emphasis on regulatory compliance, the role of IT risk management becomes more important as an enabler of the M&A strategy.

Often, many organizations need to demonstrate compliance with several overlapping requirements. A large financial company may need to meet Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), Payment Card Industry data security standard (PCI), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and other mandates such as those from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Counsil, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and Federal Trade Commission; a global transportation company may need to meet SOX, HIPAA, PCI, FTC, and European Union and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation data protection requirements. The effort to meet these regulations often further complicates the efforts required to identify an approach and develop a strategy to mitigate risks when consolidating or separating companies.

Although many of these regulations address similar requirements such as data protection, access controls, transaction auditing, data availability and system monitoring; compliance with one set of regulations does not necessarily translate into compliance with another. The specifics of each set of regulations must be carefully evaluated.

Furthermore, international M&A transactions are likely to be much more complex than domestic transactions. In international transactions, companies must not only consider the regulatory compliance concerns noted above; they must also take into account the potential risks to corporate risk governance, employee data rights, customer data expectations, cross-border data flow, as well as the risk and compliance culture of the home countries of all entities involved in the M&A transaction. Failure to adequately address these factors could scuttle the transaction.

In this complex risk environment, it is clear that IT risk management must be effectively implemented to effectively address the myriad legal, regulatory, contract, and compliance requirements; otherwise, IT risk issues left unaddressed could fundamentally affect the overall M&A strategy and desired value creation.

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Tags corporate issuesacquisitionsmergers

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