the European banks

How Zeta Principles helped the successful merger of two European banks

An admired and successful European bank (established in mid-19th century) was bought by another banking group. Its history and position generated a degree of arrogance amongst its people who found being part of the newly merged enterprise very difficult to take. Although their own systems were not effective – they had poor cost-control – they still looked down on the acquiring company who they saw as an upstart, as ‘second class’.  To compound the position, the acquiring group subsequently ran into financial difficulty – as a result of the takeover – and had to be rescued at considerable cost. This was a cause of additional chagrin to those from the old established bank. Neither side wanted to work with the other.

The challenge was not only commercial but also how to help the two cultures work productively together.

The results of many interviews demonstrated that the two cultures had no underlying beliefs or values in common.  Except one. It turned out that it was important to both banks to leave something behind for the next generation. Their only shared value was ‘sustainability’.

Armed with this knowledge a series of activities were launched amongst senior management and key influencers to explore this common denominator and to define clearly what it was they wanted to leave behind and what this would look like in practice.

The combined group is now past its financial – and cultural – difficulties. Although the process took a while it was generally acknowledged that reframing the underlying beliefs and exploring shared-values were instrumental in supporting the resulting upturn in results and productivity.

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