Acquire, Expand or Merge to Facilitate Your Exit Strategy
Many business owners view a business exit or business succession plan as a short-term plan to sell the business for the best possible price and whilst this may be possible (and in fact many business brokers simply work on this model), it is often not the best means of achieving the best return for the owners upon exit.
Like everything, if you are prepared to put in the extra work and effort and truly prepare the business for an exit strategy, you will maximise the value and return to shareholders. With many of our clients, this is a matter of identifying areas of risk, improving financial performance and then seeking to identify and attract a strategic buyer – sometimes a listed company, sometimes an offshore entity. This combination alone will maximise the value upon exit and generally far outperform a simple sale that most business owners would normally pursue.
We have had some considerable success with various clients by following an acquisition and expansion strategy as part of an overall exit plan. Many small businesses, whilst successful and performing well and valuable in their own right, are simply not large enough and do not contain enough synergies for larger companies to acquire on any strategic valuation. Therefore, one part of our strategy may well be to acquire complementary businesses. For example, part of our vertical supply chain merge together businesses that supply a similar product or service to the same client base with different product, or even operate very similarly in different geographic areas. This will increase the size, capacity and efficiency of both businesses and we managed effectively to ensure both sell for a higher figure than they would have done individually.
Obviously, this increases the time frame and is a strong argument for a strategic succession plan to be in place long before the owner actually intends to exit, but the return on equity and increase in overall strategic valuation should be more than enough to compensate.
Many of the private equity firms and merchant banks that fund these kinds of transactions have minimum thresholds and simply to get your business to a size where these thresholds apply will improve firstly your chances of a successful sale or exit and secondly the valuation at the time.