Executive Rewind: Handling M&A Questions from the Media

When it comes to mergers and acquisitions, and media interviews, especially if you’re a public company, you certainly understand you need to be careful.

There are several ways to handle those questions. However, let’s get one thing clear: “no comment!” is not recommended. Those two words say so much more than intended. There are much better options.

You can say your company does not discuss M&A issues, as a policy. Or, you can it’s a speculative question and you refrain from those. Or, if there’s no merger or acquisition in the works, simply say so.

Whichever option you choose, first be absolutely aware of the audiences that will get your message and how they can impact your business goals.

When it comes to public companies, few are more public, in the literal sense, than a broadcast network. There’s been lots of talk about CBS getting married to Time Warner. That buzz accounted for a significant amount of time in a CNBC interview with CBS CEO Les Moonves:

Moonves left some wiggle room in that response, and perhaps he intended to. He undoubtedly had very important audiences in mind, appearing on a business network that’s on tens of thousands of TV monitors in and around Wall Street and brokerage houses nationwide. Also, he had to consider the mom and pop investor, his own employees and the employees of the other companies mentioned in that interview, including Time Warner and CNN.

Moonves did close the door on any merger talk, for now. But you can’t help but get the impression that door remains unlocked and maybe even is slightly ajar.

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