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How I Did It: Lessons from the Front Lines of Business by Daniel McGinn, Harvard Business Review

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DuPont’s CEO on Executing a Complex Cross-Border Acquisition

by Ellen Kullman

Ellen Kullman is the chair and CEO of DuPont.

The Idea

Executives at DuPont worked for six months on the $7 billion acquisition of Denmark’s Danisco. Ellen Kullman details the challenges and opportunities that arose—and offers lessons for others involved in M&A.

Two days before Thanksgiving 2010, my phone rang. Tom Knutzen, the CEO of Danisco, was on the line. His company, a Danish leader in industrial biotechnology and nutritional ingredients, was in play, and a European chemical group had offered to buy it. His question to me: Was DuPont still interested in acquiring Danisco?

A few months earlier Danisco had altered its rules governing shareholder votes to make ...

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