Outlook: A deal too far for one of the City's stars
Wednesday 28 January 1998
Then, as often happens in enterpreneurially driven companies, came the deal too far, the pounds 1.8bn acquisition of Premier in the US, a rather larger company than Farnell in the same kind of business. Many of his largest shareholders said at the time that he was overpaying, and several of them famously opposed him. Driven by an overpowering optimism, Mr Poulson refused to listen, and he turned their objections into a point of principle about a management's right to manage. I've brought you this far, he told shareholders, now watch me do it all over again.
Thus has hubris been overtaken by nemesis. There are plenty of reasons why Premier failed to live up to expectations, but the biggest fault was always Mr Poulson's groundless optimism. It's a old story in business, but nobody ever seems to learn.
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