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How Sustainability Influences Financial Due Diligence Process?

Are sustainability factors shaping the financial due diligence process? ACCA and Chartered Accountants ANZ's report delves into the pivotal role of sustainability in mergers, acquisitions, and divestments. Read on to know more!

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Shreshtha Verma
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Sustainability Influences Financial Due Diligence Process

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As organizations navigate the complexities of the 21st-century business landscape, achieving sustainability has emerged as a paramount concern. Now, a joint report from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand sheds light on the intricate relationship between sustainability and the mergers, acquisitions, and divestments (M&A) process, emphasizing the pivotal role of accounting and finance professionals.

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The Crucial Role of Sustainability in M&A Transactions

Sustainability isn't just a buzzword; it's a fundamental aspect of strategic decision-making in M&A transactions. The report underscores three key messages: first, sustainability is integral to the strategic intent and valuation of entities involved in M&A; second, assessing sustainability-related risks and opportunities is essential during due diligence; and third, organizations must possess the necessary expertise to navigate sustainability aspects effectively throughout the transaction cycle.

CFOs are urged to prioritize sustainability considerations during both investment and divestment phases. Failure to do so could expose organizations to significant risks emanating from sustainability-related issues, potentially jeopardizing the success of transactions. Whether sustainability acts as a catalyst for acquisition or prompts divestment, its impact varies across sectors and industries, ranging from subtle murmurs to resounding drumbeats.

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Navigating Sustainability Considerations in the Due Diligence Process

The report delves into sustainability considerations across various dimensions—strategic, environmental, social, economic, and governance—underscoring their interconnectedness. From strategic planning to closing, sustainability should permeate every stage of the transaction workflow. The report offers practical insights to assist CFOs and finance teams in integrating sustainability-related issues seamlessly into the M&A process.

Clive Webb, Head of Business Management at ACCA, emphasizes the pivotal role of accountancy and finance professionals in assessing and mitigating sustainability-related risks. He highlights four key factors driving the importance of sustainability in transactions: financial institutions and investors, supply chains, regulators, and customers, clients, and employees.

Simon Grant, Group Executive APS and International at CA ANZ, stresses the imperative for finance professionals to continually enhance their skills and knowledge, underscoring the ethical dimension inherent in their roles. Assessing sustainability-related risks and opportunities demands a nuanced understanding of social, economic, and environmental factors, coupled with professional skepticism to guard against greenwashing or bluewashing.

Prof Dr. Christopher Kummer, President of the Institute of Mergers, Acquisitions, and Alliances (IMAA), highlights the growing trend of organizations incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria into their evaluation of investment opportunities. This underscores the evolving landscape wherein sustainability objectives play a pivotal role in shaping business strategies and decisions.

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The report underscores the inextricable link between sustainability and financial due diligence, urging organizations to embrace sustainability as a cornerstone of their strategic decision-making processes. As the business landscape continues to evolve, integrating sustainability considerations into M&A transactions isn't just a choice—it's a strategic imperative for long-term success.

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