DHR and CT Partners: Search Dwarfs in Alley Fight

When you’re supposed to be the “highly esteemed, trusted advisor” to major companies and their boards, nothing is more unseemly than when bad hubris breaks out over your own business practices.

Unfortunately, this is the case with this week’s reported hostile bid being made by DHR International to acquire CT Partners in a cash offer of $60 million, according to the New York Post‘s Kevin Dugan. See latest cycle here: http://nypost.com/2015/02/05/troubled-ctpartners-gets-takeover-bid-from-rival-recruiter/.

Neither Search firm is worth that much, nor do they even add up to a fraction of the top ranked firms, but that’s beside the point. Hostile bids impact prices in ways that are completely irrational, which in this case, could also now describe the transaction’s tone.

Deals are as much about ego and personality as numbers with the latest example raising the truth of that statement almost as quickly as a market index.

Consider this choice excerpt from the previously linked story: ‘Obviously, we don’t have a high opinion of Brian as an executive or as a person,’ David Hoffmann, chairman of DHR, told the Post.Yeah, we think a big part of the problem is him.’ 

(Side note: According to DHR’s web site, Hoffmann’s son, Geoff, the firm’s CEO, appeared earlier today on CNBC and Bloomberg to discuss “hot jobs in the CEO suite.” http://www.dhrinternational.com/about/news-media/what-are-hottest-jobs-c-suite-executives.)

Now, back to Dad for a minute. Why would anyone in a leadership capacity say something that personally disparaging in a public statement that risks legal suit? Especially when they’re the ones who are trying to acquire the other firm? That’s not leverage. Hostile or not, lawyers or no lawyers, this lack of decorum leaves a lot to be desired. Each side needs to work through the process professionally and with discretion. Set the personal aside even if the accusations may turn out to be true from your own point of view.

No matter what these players think is at stake, there’s something larger here that needs to be observed. If you need help figuring out what that is, then chances are it’s a good time to take a step back yourself. Transactions at all costs rarely add up to anything resembling long-term value.

# # #