Record level of European mergers aids workload

Cross-border mergers and acquisitions have hit record heights in Europe, boosting opportunities in the naming and corporate identity sector.

Figures released by Acquisitions Monthly show that in the first six months of 1997, 1051 cross-border mergers and acquisitions worth 28.8bn were completed, compared with 982 deals in the same period in 1996.

As usual the US tops the list with 305 deals worth 11.4bn in the first six months of this year. German and Dutch companies are also active.

“Mergers and acquisitions are a major driving force in the design industry at the moment. They now create around a third of our business,” says a spokesman for Dutch design consultancy Visser Bay Anders Toscani. “The work is different from other identity work because it involves the merging of two cultures. It is generally more tense,” he adds.

VBAT has designed a logo for the newly merged P&O Nedlloyd, a leading container shipping company. This is essentially a new marque, retaining elements of the constituent companies’ previous logos, such as the colours orange and blue, says VBAT senior designer Marc Goslinga.

Meanwhile, UK consultancies continue to profit from merger and acquisition-related business, which accounts for around 30 per cent of corporate identity and naming work at Interbrand and Landor Associates. Both are working on several pan-European merger or acquisition projects.

“While hostile acquisitions have long been part of UK business culture, they are spreading to countries like France and Germany, resulting in more identity work for designers,” says Landor managing director Adrian Day.

Interbrand creative director Chris Lightfoot says overseas clients are not so different from UK clients, with factors such as size, the nature of the business and the individual client’s attitude to design more significant than location. He concedes, however, that companies in The Netherlands, Sweden and the UK generally place a greater emphasis on design than other Europeans.

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