Google's retreat from the mainland has been a lesson for foreign firms that they should achieve their long-term ambitions through tactical moves, the head of a consulting company said yesterday on the sidelines of the Boao Forum. 'If any company has a clear commitment to China and a clear willingness to win profitability here, then it needs to be capable of tactical moves to face the challenges and difficulties,' Charles-Edouard Bouee, Asia president of Roland Berger Strategic Consultants, said. Google decided to stop censoring its content for mainland Net users and moved its search engine to Hong Kong late last month. In response to observations that the business environment in China had deteriorated, he said the country had always been a tough market where the government played a key role and culture and entrepreneurship factors were strong. The only way for foreign firms to get support from the government, the people and their employees was to have ambitious but achievable goals and adjust themselves and their business models to achieve their goals, he said at the forum in Hainan . Eighty per cent of Bouee's clients are Chinese. He said many Chinese firms are to some extent more competitive than international ones, but they need to be mature enough before entering the global market. Commenting on Geely Holding Group's recent acquisition of Ford's money-losing Volvo unit, he said a firm must be strong enough at home before it invests in other countries. He laid down three requirements for Chinese companies that want to make overseas acquisitions: a strategic intent, a good price and a clear plan for what they will do in the first 100 days after the acquisition. He called the first two 'important' and the last one 'critical'. The first thing a buyer must do is understand the business model and the local regulations as well as the cultural differences, he said. 'Globally, one out of two mergers fails to bring results.' The reason, he said, was that the buyer did not follow these rules, especially concerning cultural differences. Geely, China's top private carmaker, is a Roland Berger client. Bouee declined to comment on the company's chances for success in its Volvo venture.