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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW


WORDS MAT THEW PARSONS


says that a high level of UK regulatory scrutiny worked to its advantage. “When we set out on the journey, I thought, there’s a lot of time here for distraction, I hope we can stay focused,” he admits. “Well, the time went quickly, and the joint teams worked on the integration planning, well, as much as we could under regulatory scrutiny. “At the end of July, we had a sound integration plan ready to go. We could communi- cate senior appointments in the first couple of levels of the organisation from day one, make those changes, creating stability so people weren’t distracted and knew what their roles were going forward.” Anderson says the TMC “governed the process well”. Did customers agree? “I was pleasantly surprised by the way we successfully communicated our plans. We have not lost a client as a result of integrating the two businesses,” he replies.


WE HAVE NOT LOST A CLIENT AS A RESULT OF INTEGRATING THE TWO BUSINESSES


Integration is ongoing, with 100 associated projects and 15 “workstreams”. Amex GBT


overestimated the potential job losses, which can be high in acquisitions of this scale. It was, in part, due to the acquisition taking place from a solid setting, Anderson says. “Under the UK takeover code, we had to put in an estimate around job losses,” he rec- ollects. “I wish we had not been required to do that, but we were. We estimated 6 to 8 per cent, but the actual cuts have been less half that, because during that six-month period we held positions open in both companies in anticipation of the merger. In 2018 our transaction growth was nearly 5 per cent, which creates opportunities for new positions.”


NEW FOCUS ON MID-MARKET As technology integration – “the biggest challenge” – continues, the TMC plans to refocus on SMEs. “We have long believed further leveraging of our assets for the benefit of the mid-market segment made a lot of sense,” Anderson says. “We’re working hard to create value in a segment that the traditional global TMC model has not successfully attracted in the past,” he explains, adding that he expects half of new business sales in 2019 to come from the US mid market. Acquisitions are back, too. “We purposely stayed quiet in terms of M&A in the last six months or so because we had our hands full,” Anderson says. “We have an active M&A pipeline, but there are 15 potential deals we’re looking at around the world. Three to five of those will make it to the finish line in the next six months and a couple in the next quarter.” During our conversation, Anderson refers to “legacy GBT” and “legacy HRG” – so what will the “new GBT” look like? “We’ve created the first total travel and expense management integrated ecosystem built primarily on proprietary technology. There isn’t another one in our industry,” he claims. There may be a new brand announcement in the near future, he hints, which would seem to be a logical step with, no doubt, more surprises to come from the world's biggest TMC. ■ Read the full interview online at buyingbusinesstravel.com


38 JULY/AUGUST 2019 buyingbusinesstravel.com


COMBINED LEGACY T


As the ‘new Amex GBT’ emerges after the acquisition of HRG, chief executive Doug Anderson explains how some aspects of the deal took him by surprise


O RECAP: American Express Global Business Travel expressed its intention to acquire rival HRG in February 2018. There followed a limbo-like six months until the deal completed in July 2018. Talking to BBT nearly a year on, Doug Anderson, chief executive of Amex GBT,


PROFILE Doug Anderson is chief


executive of American Express Global Business Travel. He was previously chief executive and president of CWT. He lives in London with his family.


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