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Exit and Growth Strategies for Middle Market Businesses

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5 Ways to Maximize the Proceeds From the Sale of Your Business | Part 2

By Brian Ballo | Mar 12, 2014

Money GraphThis Blog Post is the second in a series of 5.

Naturally, business owners believe that their business can be sold at the higher end of the pricing range. However, an attractive Letter of Intent to Acquire typically does not come unsolicited. Therefore, to increase the odds of maximizing the proceeds from the methodical sale of your business, the following tactical steps can be taken:

2. Focus on Increasing EBITDA

If corporate and private equity group buyers are focused on EBITDA, then you should be also. Cash flow is king. That means, improving your income statement is the best way of maximizing the price at which the business sells. Read more »


5 Ways to Maximize the Proceeds From the Sale of Your Business

By Brian Ballo | Mar 10, 2014

Money BlocksThis Blog Post is the first in a series of 5.

Naturally, business owners believe that their business can be sold at the higher end of the pricing range. However, an attractive Letter of Intent to Acquire typically does not come unsolicited. Therefore, to increase the odds of maximizing the proceeds from the methodical sale of your business, the following tactical steps can be taken:

1.  Discuss Your Goals, and Get a Reality Check, from Your Advisory Team

Assuming the timing is right for you to sell, the sale of business process starts when you communicate your desired post-business lifestyle to an advisory team composed of an Investment Banker, Wealth Advisor, Tax Attorney, and an Accountant. They will work backwards, to present and structure the sale opportunity accordingly. Read more »


Consider Top-Line Revenue Financing

By Brian Ballo | May 10, 2009
If You Want Funding This Year

Several CFO’s have recently asked me “When will the capital markets “return to normal?”  My answer is:  Not this year.  Therefore, if you are a C-level executive that wants to obtain funding for your company, you might consider leveraging your company’s top-line gross revenues with a new form of financing structure from Entrex, Inc., based in Chicago, and Bank of New York/Mellon, and made available to you through your corporate finance investment banker.

The current reality is that talk by traditional banks about low interest rates is not solving your cash flow needs, particularly when stricter lending requirements have reduced the amount of your working capital line or term loan.  Also, selling or giving up equity at a today’s reduced valuations is not attractive, which explains why raising equity capital in the types of private placements typical a few years ago, are not getting done.  As a result, unless your company is distressed (and, therefore, attractive to vulture investors), then you are most likely frustrated with your inability to access capital for growth and recapitalizations.

One attractive and innovative financing solution that middle market companies might consider is obtaining lump sum capital in exchange for giving the investor a monthly fixed percentage Read more »


2009 Ripe for Corporate Buyers

By Brian Ballo | Nov 24, 2008

For Corporate Buyers that Pursue a Disciplined Approach: 2009 is the Time to Buy a Company

Corporate executives at middle market companies understand that meeting investor demands for growth is difficult to achieve organically. Therefore, making strategic acquisitions are critical to building scale and growing revenues.

The impetus for pursing an acquisition have become even more compelling in light of the current challenging economic times, which has put downward pressure on valuation multiples. Indeed, a recent Boston Consulting Group report entitled “The Return of the Strategist: Creating Value with M&A in Downturns” underscores why a weak economy is often an ideal time to acquire a company.  Key findings of this report include:

  • Corporate buyers are uniquely positioned to take advantage of the tough economic times, since they possess the cash to complete transactions, whereas the financial private equity buyers have been restrained from borrowing in the wake of the credit crisis.
  • Acquisitions completed during recessions are twice as likely as upturn deals to produce long-term returns in excess of 50%, and, on average, create 14.5% more value for acquirer shareholders.
  • The best type of company to buy during a recession is one with strong finances and relatively weak profitability.
  • Corporate buyers can also increase their returns and likelihood for success by acquiring relatively small targets.
  • Surprisingly, acquirers can also create value by paying above-average premiums, provided the underlying rationale for the deal makes sense.
  • Acquirers in difficult economic conditions are better at identifying targets with unrealized potential, probably because of the disciplining power of downturns, when every dollar counts.

Yet, despite the promise of adding value from a discounted acquisition, the reality is still that the majority of acquisitions will fail to result in any cost savings or merger synergies. So, how do the top value creators in downturns pick the best targets? Read more »


What Strategic Alliances Do Your PSOs Have?

By Brian Ballo | Sep 29, 2008

CEOs and CFOs of middle market companies regularly make important decisions to engage a variety of Professional Service Organizations (PSO) to perform necessary corporate, transactional and financial planning tasks.  Yet, the engagement decision to hire a particular investment bank, wealth management advisor or consulting firm, is often made without examining whether the new PSO has an existing working relationship with the referring PSO already providing services to the company.   

Asking for a referral from an existing professional service provider is the common way that most CEOs and CFOs begin their search for another service provider with a distinct specialization.   However, if the referral discussion focuses on a particular PSO firm’s isolated attributes, this does not necessarily correlate with the prospective PSO firm being a “good fit” within the context of all the PSOs serving the company. 

The effectiveness of the PSO vetting process (the so-called “beauty contest”) can be improved by inquiring whether the referring firm (e.g., an accounting firm) regularly conducts business with the referred firm (e.g., an investment bank).  If a formal Strategic Alliance is found to exist between the PSO firms, then established methods and processes help ensure that the PSOs provide complimentary resources, expertise and advice, in order to deliver collaborative solutions to the client company.   Read more »


What is Your Corporate Acquisition Criteria?

By Brian Ballo | Jul 28, 2008

Corporate Buyers Should Answer 5 Key Questions When Preparing a List of Acquisition Criteria

Corporate buyers appreciate that acquiring another company is an effective way of achieving growth, which can compliment organic growth. However, before proceeding with any acquisition process, research in the area of Pre-Acquisition Best Practices has shown that 5 key questions should be considered by acquirers.

By answering these fundamental questions, a corporate buyer is then more readily able to detail a List of Acquisition Criteria. In turn, the List of Acquisition Criteria shapes the buy-side mandate given to an investment bank, which will then proceed to systematically contact both sellers that are actively for sale, as well as the much larger group of off-market target sellers.

  • Acquisition Purpose. First, what is the purpose, motivation or intent that causes an acquirer to undertake buying another firm? Acquisitions are often employed by acquirers to achieve economies of scale, to expand existing product/service lines, or to penetrate additional markets. These goals are a reflection of the broader corporate strategy for how you want to grow your company. Read more »

Investment Banking Fees Should Reflect the Transaction Risk

By Brian Ballo | Feb 10, 2008

Business owners interested in selling their business can readily see the benefits of hiring an investment banker to identify qualified buyers. However, the issue which routinely arises in negotiations between the business owner and the investment banker is whether or not the owner will pay an initial retainer and/or monthly work fee.

Owners often maintain that they only want to pay for the result of an actual sale, and, therefore, are willing to pay success fees upon closing, but they are not willing to pay any up-front fees. However, this view assumes that the risks of not closing a transaction depend solely on the investment banker’s performance, whereas, in fact, closings also depend upon the owner’s determination that he is receiving the highest price, the best terms or the business is being sold to the “right buyer.” Read more »


CFA Advises Tayor Gas Liquids, Inc.

By Brian Ballo | Jan 14, 2008

Taylor Gas Liquids, Inc.

Case Study

After trying unsuccessfully to complete a management buyout by the President and 25% owner, CFA was hired to make a Transaction happen. Working with both owners, CFA was able to bring the right balance of debt and Private Equity to the table to do a transaction favorable to all parties. The resulting value was 60% above what the owners had originally anticipated. They were able to select from four competing prospects. Taylor is a $160 Million company using 300 semi’s to transport crude oil from wells to Taylor’s pipeline injection points, so the structure had to allow the Cap X of adding new trucks as they grow.