Show Biz M&A

Keeping the talent happy after mergers


Kelly Haggerty, BCEMBA 07

VP, Merger and Acquisition Integration
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Los Angeles


When Kelly Haggerty got a call from Warner Entertainment Group asking if she’d be interested in joining their new Merger & Acquisition division, she asked, “Are you sure you have the right phone number?”

Yes, she had M&A experience, specifically during her time at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Cisco Systems, and a specialty in merger integration. But unlike many people who have dreamed of working at the legendary studio, she says, “I never gave it a thought.”

But the offer was attractive and the challenge intrigued her. Additionally, it would bring her from San Francisco to Southern California, where she could also pursue her passion for thoroughbred horse racing. Haggerty owns a racehorse, and Los Angeles has some of the best horse racing in the world.

As the architect of the company’s Integration Management Office, one of Haggerty’s first charges was to help manage a smooth transition for the acquisition of Alloy Entertainment—the company that captures the teen market with television, movie, and book titles like the Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

“My job is to help the acquiring business units keep the talent at Alloy happy,” she says. “Warner Brothers is a very large and disperse company, so as we fold in these smaller creative properties, we have to make sure we realize the synergies while allowing creative freedom for new talent.” Just as challenges integrating AOL-Time Warner hurt shareholder value, well-run integration can add value to a company.

Haggerty says she learned the art of maintaining the delicate balance between the needs of the company and the needs of creative during her time at Haas. “All of the team projects where we had to deal with diversity and different backgrounds really prepared me to empathize and see other world views to come up with solutions that conform to corporate requirements while enabling creative freedom.”

This balance is more important than ever to generating content that resonates across multiple platforms because studios like Warner Brothers are losing their direct connection to consumers as a result of a decline in movie going and home video, Haggerty points out. “There is resistance to change,” she says. “But for a company like Warner Brothers to still be thriving in 100 years, we have to make the best deals that protect the creative atmosphere while increasing shareholder value.”  –Stacie Stukin

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