Informa involves HR and benefits team in acquisitions 

Informa Case study 430

Publishing and events business Informa has made a number of acquisitions in recent years, including US exhibition firms Hanley Wood and Virgo, and UK book publisher Ashgate. Tom Humphris, global support HR director, gets involved around a month before any deal goes through. “We get access to all the information, and we actually run a piece of analysis looking at what our current benefits offering is versus what theirs is,” he says.

Informa has a comprehensive benefits offering, including elements such as financial planning, gym membership and critical illness cover, so usually has more generous provisions than prospective additions. Any employees coming into the business simply join its existing scheme. This extends to including a medical history disregarded policy around private medical insurance, although the business does operate different access levels to reflect previous policies that have been in place.

A bigger issue, however, is around pensions, particularly where the business being acquired operates a defined benefit scheme. “We get all the information and then liaise directly with the trustees of the target acquisition to make sure that when [members] are transferred to a defined contribution scheme it’s a fair and reasonable offering,” he says.

When a new business is acquired, Humphris and his team, and sometimes core providers, head out to that organisation and talk directly to employees who will be joining. “It means they can put a face to the name so they can reach out if they have any concerns,” says Humphris. “It builds that trust very early on.”