InSight

Exit and Growth Strategies for Middle Market Businesses

Selling Your Company – The Environmental Factor

By John Hammett | Nov 17, 2011

There are five deal factors so significant that they don’t just affect price, they affect the fundamental ability to sell your company and complete a deal.  For this reason, these are considered Deal Killers.   If a company has one or more of these attributes, it will be difficult to find any buyer.  Any buyer will very likely discount the value to accommodate the risk that these Deal Killers bring.

My first three blog posts in this series discussed Deal Killer #1, No Management Depth and Deal Killer # 2, Customer Concentration and Deal Killer #3, Inconsistent Financials.  This post will focus on another problem some sellers may face…environmental concerns.

Deal Killer #4 – The Environmental Factor

PollutionENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES.  Any environmental issue can be a Deal Killer.  Environmental issues involve government, uncertainty, and legal costs. Environmental laws often put the cost of clean-up to the current owners and operators, even if the pollution was caused by a predecessor company at that location.

If the company uses hazardous chemicals, buyers will be extremely cautious about proceeding with a deal.  Real estate will always be subject to due diligence by buyers and a problem found late in the process will very likely kill a deal.

Buyers are very reluctant to buy real estate as part of a deal, nor do they want to acquire a company that has a “tail” of exposure from previous operations.  Even if the company is only a lessor of the real estate, environmental liability goes back to the company that operated on the site and buyers will want to ensure that they don’t buy that historical exposure when they buy the company

ANTIDOTES.    The key antidotes are knowledge and disclosure.  Sellers should understand the use and management of hazardous materials in their operations so that these can be documented and explained to buyers.

It is best to know of environmental issues ahead of the deal negotiation.   Sellers should do their own research in advance to find out if there is any pollution on their site, whether caused by them or a predecessor.  If any issues are found, these should be described and documented up front.  Some buyers will be willing to work through some of these issues if they are known in the beginning.  Late discovery of environmental issues is nearly always a deal killer.

7 Step Guide to Business Exit Planning

 Posted by John Hammett.


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