Synergy

What Is Synergy?

Synergy is the concept that the combined value and performance of two companies will be greater than the sum of the separate individual parts. Synergy is a term that is most commonly used in the context of mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Synergy, or the potential financial benefit achieved through the combining of companies, is often a driving force behind a merger.

Key Takeaways

  • Synergy is the concept that the value and performance of two companies combined will be greater than the sum of the separate individual parts.
  • If two companies can merge to create greater efficiency or scale, the result is what is sometimes referred to as a synergy merge.
  • The expected synergy achieved through a merger can be attributed to various factors, such as increased revenues, combined talent and technology, and cost reduction.
  • In addition to merging with another company, a company can also create synergy by combining products or markets, such as when one company cross-sells another company's products to increase revenues.
  • Companies can also achieve synergy between different departments by setting up cross-disciplinary workgroups in which teams work cooperatively to increase productivity and innovation.
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Synergy

Understanding Synergy

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are made with the goal of improving the company's financial performance for the shareholders. Two businesses can merge to form one company that is capable of producing more revenue than either could have been able to independently, or to create one company that is able to eliminate or streamline redundant processes, resulting in significant cost reduction.

Because of this principle, the potential synergy is examined during the M&A process. If two companies can merge to create greater efficiency or scale, the result is what is sometimes referred to as a synergy merge.

Shareholders will benefit if a company's post-merger share price increases due to the synergistic effect of the deal. The expected synergy achieved through the merger can be attributed to various factors, such as increased revenues, combined talent and technology, and cost reduction.

Types of Synergy

In addition to merging with another company, a company may also attempt to create synergy by combining products or markets. For example, a retail business that sells clothes may decide to cross-sell products by offering accessories, such as jewelry or belts, to increase revenue.

Synergy can also be negative. Negative synergy is derived when the value of the combined entities is less than the value of each entity if it operated alone. This could result if the merged firms experience problems caused by vastly different leadership styles and corporate cultures.

A company can also achieve synergy by setting up cross-disciplinary workgroups, in which each member of the team brings with them a unique skill set or experience. For example, a product development team may consist of marketers, analysts, and research and development (R&D) experts.

This team formation could result in increased capacity and workflow and, ultimately, a better product than all the team members could produce if they work separately.

Special Considerations

Synergy is reflected on a company's balance sheet through its goodwill account. Goodwill is an intangible asset that represents the portion of the business value that cannot be attributed to other business assets. Examples of goodwill include a company's brand recognition, proprietary or intellectual property, and good customer relationships.

Synergies may not necessarily have a monetary value but could reduce the costs of sales and increase profit margin or future growth. In order for synergy to have an effect on the value, it must produce higher cash flows from existing assets, higher expected growth rates, longer growth periods, or lower cost of capital.

Real-World Example

In 2021, Thermo Fisher Scientific, a producer and supplier of scientific instruments, equipment, software, services, and consumables, purchased clinical research services provider, PPD.

Thermo Fisher acquired PPD for $47.5 a share, for an all-cash deal valued at $17.4 billion. Through the purchase, Thermo Fisher is expected to realize synergies worth $125 million over three years. This includes approximately $75 million of cost synergies and $50 million of operating-income gains through revenue-associated synergies.

Is Synergy Positive or Negative?

In general, synergy is positive. The idea is that the combined efforts of two or more entities are greater than those entities alone. In business terms, however, though companies may aim to achieve synergy by joining forces, the end result often lacks synergy, making the endeavor a wasted one.

What Areas Is Synergy Realized?

Synergies are primarily realized in three areas: revenue, cost, and financial. Revenue synergies result in higher revenues for the parties involved, cost synergies result in lower costs, and financial synergies result in overall improved finances, such as lower interest rates on debt.

What Is Workplace Synergy?

Workplace synergy is when employees work together to create a more productive working experience. This can include areas such as feedback, clearly defined goals, performance-based compensation, and overall teamwork to tackle problems that would be more impactful than if done alone.

Article Sources
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  1. Pharmaceutical Technology. "Thermo Fisher Acquires Clinical Research Services Provider PPD for $17.4 Billion."

  2. ThermoFisher Scientific. "About."

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