By Robin Lee Tarpeh (May 05th 2005)
"...My elementary study of finance or advance accounting taught me that in times of very stiff competition, businesses would merge either vertical or horizontal in an attempt to remain competitive or to improve their business model and strengthen the bottom line. But I also know that when they merge, they do so because the benefit of being one is more than being separate ..."
I recently read an article in a Liberian daily (actually, several dailies) that talked about a merger between the UPP and the LPP. I almost laughed my dugs out because nothing could have been funnier than this but then I thought that I should compose myself and take out some of the fun from this and try to find answers to a number of questions.
Some of the questions that were running through my head were: How many more of this are we going to see as we move closer to October 11, 2005 ? Who is ultimately going to benefit from this madness? And is this happening because of George Weah entry into the race?
My elementary study of finance or advance accounting taught me that in times of very stiff competition, businesses would merge either vertical or horizontal in an attempt to remain competitive or to improve their business model and strengthen the bottom line. But I also know that when they merge, they do so because the benefit of being one is more than being separate. Those who work on these kinds of deals know that there has to be a synergistic advantage for this newly formed business in order for it to produce the desire results. What these experts look for in prospective merger partners would be such thing as; are they going to strengthen us where we are weak; expand our revenue base or streamline our process? Will there be cost savings advantages? What are our weaknesses and are they strong in these areas? Where are they weak and are strong in those areas? Once all of these questions are answered in a satisfactory manner backed by the appropriate reports and schedules, the merger is in place and a request is taken to the Board of Directors and Shareholders for approval. And as we all know, sometimes some people resist these requests and the merging process may turn hostile.
We have all read about the AOL Time Warner merger and we saw that these two companies did not carefully consider all these facts before entering into this marriage, so they had to break the company apart after a few years because they did not compliment each other in areas of weaknesses and there was no synergy. But when you look at the merger between Gateway and eMachine, you will see clearly that there is what the merger analysts call “synergy”. Gateway needs a cheap way to produce computers and eMachine has that platform. EMachine needs more capital to expand its business and a great name to back its products; Gateway can provide that. This is a perfect merger in order to be able to adequately stand gorillas like Dell and HP in that highly competitive, price sensitive industry. This is a strategy with clear benefits to the customers, shareholders and employees of both Gateway and eMachine.
My problem with the merger between UPP and LPP is that; were all these questions carefully considered? Are they acting in good faith? Is there actually a threat that needs to be faced in such a manner? Why Now? My recollection shows that these same people formed a merger only after Samuel Doe defeated them in 1985. They refused to form the coalition against an evil man like Taylor when the security of the state was greatly threatened and its future about to be mortgaged. They even blamed Taylor for breaking the coalition by using money. Have these guys ever been serious? Do they think that we are still playing under- the- palava hut politics here?
First thing is that this merger could possibly be called an “LUPP” because they both already shared the “PP” in their individual names. But, you may be surprise to note that they are already having problems with whether the L or the U should come first. Isn’t this silly? The next thing to consider here is; is there any synergy here? The two are parties are weak in the same areas and strong in the same areas? They have the same customer or support base and so there are no new grounds to be achieved here. These two groups should have been one in the first place but it was the greed for personal power that made them to be two separate parties and now they say they are coming together. We have always viewed them as one and the same.
When one consider this a little deeper, you are made to wonder as to what force is really making them to do what they should have done in the 1970’s and 80’s. Neither Samuel Doe nor Taylor could bring these people together in 1985 and in 1997 respectively. There must be something very strange, new and powerful that is doing this. Well, may be, it just might be the only new thing that is happening on the political landscape of Liberia and that is the entry of George Weah. The entry of George Weah into the race has forced Fahnbulleh to return to the LPP and abandoned the Reformation Alliance Party. We heard H. Boima make a call for the progressives of the 70’s and 80’s to come together to stop George Weah. We also heard Gabriel Baccus called for similar steps to be taken by the progressives.
When I visit George Weah’s website (georgeopongweah.com) or hear his supporter speak, they always say that the “Ambassador” is the great Unifier and I think they are right. If George can bring old enemies together and make them to unite, he must be a great Unifier however unintentionally this may be. I am now hoping that Ellen and Varney Sherman will also form another merger since they both belonged to the same party until Joseph Koffa (UP’s Chairman) sold the party to Ellen. I am sure that Dr. E. Beyan Kessely, founder of UP, was greatly terrified in his grave by this action. When Ellen and Varney Sherman come together, it will be a great day since in fact Ellen blames Varney for her not being able to get the LAP standard-bearership in 1997 and Heaven knew that she had to run for President at all cost. And mind you, if and when they do merge, the agreement will be that Ellen rule for half term and Varney rule for the other half but he problem again will be who goes first.
While I do not support any particular candidate, I think George Weah is doing a wonderful thing in our country and for all intent and purposes, I can declare him a winner now even if the poll doesn’t show that in October 2005. Bringing UPP and LPP together and with plans for LAP& UP to also come together is a great victory for a youngman like George Weah. BRAVO KING GEORGE, you have already left a mark in HISTORY.
About the author:
Robin Lee Tarpeh, is a social and political commentator who resides in the European Union and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org