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What makes carve-out projects special? – A Carve-Out Blog Series

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Now that we are aware of what is an SAP carve-out, let’s spend some time trying to understand what it is about them that makes them so unique compared to other, more traditional SAP projects.

Remember how we mentioned the secretive nature of M&A deals in last week’s blog? Well, this is a big deal. For starters, the c-suite would like to limit its exposure to compliance risks. To do this, they keep the decision-making process concentrated amongst very few people (think CEO, CFO, M&A specialists and legal – NOT the CIO).

I always tell the story of an IT Director calling me frantically at 5 pm on a Friday, asking me what I knew about SAP carve-outs. It turns out the CFO had just walked into her office with an M&A contract stating they had sold a business unit. It was now up to her to figure out how to separate the systems, segment the data accordingly, and deliver all this within a short 90-day timeframe. That 90-day timeline was what concerned her the most. “This is a must deliver by date. There is no room for failure, or my job is on the line,” she said.

This is, of course, anecdotal, but I’ve had similar conversations in the past to know this was not just a one-off call. M&A’s are 100% business-driven, so no one in the room even thinks twice about IT complexities when discussing multi-million (sometimes multi-billion) dollar mergers or acquisitions. The overall cost of delivering such a project is insignificant compared to the overall deal. This makes it extremely easy to overlook. But without flawless execution, you could potentially run into career-ending penalties. I’m not exaggerating. A 5% late penalty on a $100M deal is $5M – about 10x the cost of the IT portion of the project.

Another unique aspect of carve-outs is that you constantly deal with separate systems: the seller and the buyer. Well, this is not true for ALL carve-outs since some can be strictly internally driven, like system splits or internal restructuring. But when dealing with traditional two-party M&A deals, there will always be two systems (sometimes more in complex scenarios, but this is beside the point). In this case, it is critical to understand a few different things:

  • Asset vs Share Deal: this really should be the first question asked as it has huge implications regarding data, hence the level of complexity. In an asset deal, as the name implies, a company is selling assets for cash. Think of a logistics provider getting rid of their truck fleet to focus on brokerage or American Airlines selling their regional jet division American Eagle. In this scenario, the buyer is only taking on future liabilities from the execution of the deal. This means there is no need to hand over any historical data necessary to maintain day-to-operations running. On the other hand, in a share deal, the buyer is purchasing stock ownership of the company, so they are taking on not only the future but also past and present liabilities. This means that all relevant transactional and historical data needs to be handed over in future audits. Knowing this early on can give you a huge leg up on understanding a planning for the carve-out execution.
  • Who is the buying/selling party: this is a two-way question. The buyer needs to try and understand the seller, and vice versa. Selling to a competitor is entirely different from selling to a business utterly unrelated to what you do. You also need to know as much information as possible about what ERP they are running or how they would like to receive the data. Are we handing over an entire, operational SAP system or just handing over flat files. Sometimes we don’t have visibility into the buyer or dealing with a private equity firm. In this case, we are likely extracting the data in scope and handing over flat files for them to do as they wish. Simple enough.
  • What exactly is being carved out: this is self-explanatory. From an SAP technical perspective, are we carving out an entire company code or part of a company code? Is it a plant or another type of SAP organisational object? Knowing this becomes the final piece of the puzzle to help you determine the road ahead and start planning for execution.

Despite all the unique elements of SAP carve-outs, many tend to be very standardised scenarios for experienced partners working in this space. There are specialised SAP tools to deal with data migrations and deletions and proprietary partner tools offering varying degrees of flexibility in how data can be extracted from the source, mapped and later imported into the target.

Engaging partners with vast M&A experience on both the technical and business sides of the equation will help better prepare for future mergers or acquisitions.

Call us today to schedule a free consultation with an expert and learn how cbs can help your organisation through various SAP IT and Business Transformation projects.

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Holger Bock
Managing Director / cbs Asia-Pacific
cbs Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd. cbs Malaysia Sdn. Bhd.