When an owner comes in to my office to discuss selling their company they are often only thinking binary. Sell it all or keep 100 %. As you might guess, transactions take many forms and occur for various reasons. There are times when is it appropriate to consider a partial sale of your company.
1. When you need expertise: The private equity community has created tremendous wealth for many owners by adding operational systems, expertise in personnel and a strategic vision. If you listen to many M&A minutes you know that I preach systems based operational decision making to facilitate growing your company and its people. If you are having trouble building a sales team or developing organizational depth because you are too busy running the company, having a group that supports you in those efforts may be the best way to get your company to the next level. Private Equity Groups (PEGS) to support and protect their investment are usually very open to acquiring expertise and provide systemization. They will often assist you in a strategy for business development including future acquisitions and product development. Why should you try to invent the wheel when somebody else has not only done it before, they have done it serially, often multiple times?
2. When you need access to capital: Having the right partner can not only make growing a company easier through system contribution and strategic planning, they will often facilitate your ability to get access to capital for growth. Think of it this way. Not only have you become more bankable because as a shareholder or partial owner their balance sheet strengthens yours they often have access to sources of capital that can improve your rates.
3. Many business owners have most of their wealth tied up in the company. The last five years for the oilfield industry has been brutal. Many very good companies have failed or barely survived. Don’t you bet those owners wished they had taken chips off the table when the company was doing well and diversified their risk. Everyone knows you shouldn’t have all your eggs in one basket. The old axiom, what goes up does come down! Most companies and all industries cycle. Ask Sears if you don’t believe it. The best time to sell some or all of a business is when it is doing well. Because the company is doing well it often commands a premium in the market.
If you are concerned about losing control of your business, most business owners don’t realize good companies and I am defining them as positive cash flows greater then 2M ebitda are attractive to minority investors. The system approach the right buyers bring to the table can help accelerate your company and propel it to the next level. Remember most buyers want to add value to the company and that should always be a consideration in shopping buyers.
In closing, a partial sell should be a part of your consideration when you need expertise, financial depth or liquidity diversification.
Posted by George Walden.