M&A deal leaks are increasingly common. One recent study found 42% of deals over $5 billion leaked before they happened—making leaks more of a foregone conclusion than a possibility.
Leaks occur for a number of reasons. But the nature of a leak provides a lot of context to guide a response strategy. Consider:
- Who? How well does the reporter know your company/industry? Are they someone who could tell your story with nuance if backgrounded? Or are they fresh to the space and just looking for a quick scoop to tweet?
- What? What information do they have already? Is it accurate? Completely off base? Do they have enough sources to publish a full article? What’s their deadline?
- When? How close is the company to announcing the news on their own? Is messaging baked enough to accelerate an announcement if needed? Is this really a leak, or is the reporter just fishing?
- Where? All leaks are not created equal. Consider: What’s the reach and audience of this publication? How will a leak in this publication impact stakeholders? Who is likely to see the news?
Answers to these questions may indicate the scale and seriousness of a leak—from market rumor speculation to forced-hand by exchange.
Private companies have more leeway in responding to leaks, while public companies must consider stock price volatility, exchange rules and disclosure laws.
But once the cat is out of the bag, both kinds of companies have options in communicating with their key stakeholders—from proactive email communications to direct calls.