Effective Board Oversight of M&A

One of the most important areas of board decision-making involves reviewing merger and acquisition transactions. Bill Bates is a partner at the law firm of King & Spalding who serves as co-head of the firm's Mergers & Acquisitions practice. Over the past two decades, he's worked with boards of directors on more than 40 merger or acquisition-related transactions. During that time he's seen a sea change in how boards engage with management vis-à-vis M&A: many good practices and a number of terrible mistakes. He spoke recently with BusinessWeek.com columnist Beverly Behan to share his views. Edited excerpts of their conversation follow:

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