The mergers and acquisitions industry, like many other industries, over time has developed a terminology and jargon that is unique to itself and can be quite confusing to the general public and more importantly, to business owners.
Because we realize the process of selling a business can be quite complicated and detailed, we have created a mini M&A glossary of terms that may provide you with some guidance as you work your way through the course of selling your company.
As you will see below, we have taken a number of key terms and phrases, all of which are critical at some point in the M&A process, and distilled their meaning into something that a business owner can actually use to better understand the process of selling a business, especially before they begin negotiations with any buyer.
Some of the questions that we get asked the most about in our exit planning conferences are included as well. Keep in mind that this is just a sampling of key terms, a much more detailed whitepaper glossary can be downloaded here:
A business that a private equity firm acquires to enhance a larger platform company. The new acquisition is “added on” to the platform company to create an even larger entity overall.
A form of acquisition where the individual selling a business agrees to sell all or certain assets and, in some cases, liabilities to a purchaser. The corporate entity itself is not transferred.
The act or process of arriving at an opinion or determination of the economic value of a business or enterprise, or an interest therein. A business valuation can be conducted for a variety of purposes, including, but not limited to, a merger or acquisition; gift, estate, or inheritance tax planning; ESOPs and other employee benefit plans; going public; buy-sell agreements; marital, partnership, and corporate dissolutions; and bankruptcy reorganizations.
A book containing a detailed description of a business and its growth opportunities. The CBR includes information on products and services, markets, competitors, promotional activities, organization, facilities, and historical and projected financial information. The CBR is sent to potential buyers who have signed a confidentiality agreement. Also referred to as an Offering Memorandum.
The allocation of the consideration paid for a business. The components could include cash, notes, stock, consulting agreements, earnout provisions, and covenants not to compete. Many non-cash deal structure components offer tax benefits to the seller.
The assessment of the benefits and the liabilities of a proposed acquisition by inquiring into all relevant aspects of the past, present and predictable future of the business to be purchased. Due diligence occurs after the Letter of Intent is agreed.
The portion of a purchase price in an M&A transaction that is contingent on future performance. It is payable to the sellers only when certain predefined levels of sales or income are achieved.
The assets of a business that have value but are nonphysical and not shown on the balance sheet, such as patents, software, heavily depreciated fixed assets, strong contractual relationships and an experienced workforce. Also referred to as Off Balance Sheet items.
A situation where you have at least two buyers interested in purchasing your company. By creating a competitive bidding space, the interested parties will likely bid against one another, which increases the business’s value.
When certain M&A market conditions are present such as low capital gains tax rates, low interest rates and high buyer activity. An increase in buyer activity can be caused by a variety of factors, including slow organic growth, and private equity firms or corporate buyers with a large amount of capital to invest. This market situation is also referred to as a seller’s market.
Entities that raise capital with the goal of acquiring businesses and maximizing the value of the initial investment. Also referred to as PE firms. PE firms typically buy part or all of a company, provide the missing resources currently preventing the company from growing at an accelerated rate, help the company grow extensively for a few years, and then sell it for a solid return on their investment.
Financial statements with one or more assumptions or hypothetical situations built into the data. Pro forma statements are generally supported by a documented, reasonable future of the business enterprise.
Recasting, or financial statement adjusting, eliminates from the historical financial presentation, items that are unrelated to the ongoing business, such as superfluous, excessive, or discretionary expenses, and nonrecurring revenues and expenses. Recasting provides an economic view of the company as though it were run by management dedicated to maximizing profitability and allows meaningful comparisons with other investment opportunities.
A form of acquisition whereby all or a portion of the stock in a corporation is sold to the purchaser.
Process of identifying and training certain employees and/or family members to fill key management positions within a business as these become available. This needs to be done prior to selling a company, since businesses that can operate smoothly in the absence of the current owner are more attractive to professional buyers.
Hopefully these key terms provided in this article will help you gain a better understanding of M&A terminology. If you want to get a mini-MBA on selling a company, I would suggest attending a Generational Equity M&A conference as a good follow-up step.
An investment of a few hours of your time will likely yield a tremendous benefit to you, especially if you have no exit plan or strategy in place. Putting off the inevitable is not wise for you, your family, or your financial legacy, and it’s never too early to learn how to sell a business for maximum value.
We hold our complimentary M&A conferences throughout North America so chances are very good that we will be in your region sometime in the coming months. Find a business exit planning conference near you to gain the knowledge you need.
For more information, please visit our website, provide us with your confidential contact information, and we will reach out to you.
By Carl Doerksen, Director of Corporate Development at Generational Equity.
©2018 Generational Equity, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
I would like to thank you and your firm, Generational Equity, for being our valued advisors in our journey.Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
We are extremely pleased with the way Generational Equity handled the sale of our company. Your associates, Tom and Chris, did an outstanding job of getting us (me) through the process.Michael J Polarek, President, Paragon Packaging
I am pleased that I was able to work with Andrew Byrd throughout this experience. From the first meeting we had in Minneapolis I felt that I was in good hands. His knowledge and expertise is second to none. He guided the process consistently throughout. I feel lucky that I was pared with Andrew and could not be happier that I chose Generational Equity to handle this major life event. Thank you Andrew and GenEq for everything!Eric Erlandson, Owner, Action Fastenings, Inc.
Dear Chris and Andre, I just wanted to say thinks for all your help. Even though this process was not an easy one, it was comforting to know that I had a capable team standing beside me. As I said before you made me feel like we were almost your only client or at least the most important one. Thanks again, and I will recommend your service in the future.Shenille Engelhart, Owner – CLS Technology
I quickly recognized that Don was working for Sharpe Mixers above all else, and held our interests above others.Jay Dinnison, Owner of Sharpe Mixers
Generational Equity’s assistance was invaluable in compiling and marketing our business.Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
I wanted to write you a quick letter to express our appreciation and our delight on the outcome of helping us through the process of our recent sale. We are very happy with the end result, and are very happy to be able to move forward with all of our future growth plans.Terry D. Wickman, President, Keytroller
I must say that I have never worked with a more driven, competent and focused individual as Don Ho.Jay Dinnison, Owner of Sharpe Mixers
I need to say an immense thank you to Don Ho for his stellar work ethic, attention to detail, and tireless effort. Also thank you to the whole crew at GE! Without you, Don could not do such a phenomenal job. We were shooting for closing and funding before the end of 2020, due to the uncertainty of the political landscape and taxes. I am happy to report we closed last week and will be funding tomorrow.Dr. Caty J. Catron PhD, RN, VA-BC – Owner, Vic The Picc, LLC
Thanks again Phil and feel free to have a future client call me if they would like a referral. You are a true professional!Andy Graham, Vice President, Modern Heating & Plumbing
We are very happy with the end result, and are very happy to be able to move forward with all of our future growth plans.Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
Generational Equity educated and informed us – so that we could be on the upside of a good decision (to sell).Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
The process was much more involved than I expected and your help, experience and advice was a big factor in making the negotiations go as smoothly as possible.Terry D. Wickman, President, Keytroller
Bruce and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Generational Equity for assigning Musa Jagne to our transaction. In Bruce’s words, “Musa did one hell of a job for us!”Karen S. Williams, CFO, BW Manufacturing
The help you provided us during each step of this process made us feel very comfortable and confident we were selecting the right approach to transition our Company.Andy Graham, Vice President, Modern Heating & Plumbing
We thank you Eric and Generational Equity making our dream come true.Larry Moore, Owner, A Company Portable Restrooms
Michael worked tirelessly, He followed every lead meticulously and urgently to make sure nothing was missed.Robert Evans, President and CEO of Mealtracker Dietary Software
We were happy to see the interest in our company and what we cherished has not just a valuable company but an important company to the communities we served in.Larry Moore, Owner, A Company Portable Restrooms
Tom Staszak is one of the most professional people I have dealt with in my last forty years of business. You’ve got a great group of people and you have built a truly professional organization.Michael J Polarek, President, Paragon Packaging
We knew it would be a difficult task to have someone really understand our business and our market, prior to researching a possible buyer, so it was imperative that we found someone of your caliber, with definite proven experience in this area.Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
Your wisdom and experience were invaluable to me during this once-in-a-lifetime transaction.Ralph Noblin, President of Noblin & Associates
T.D., thank you so much! You are a great leader! I love how you are using your gifts and talents to better others. You are clearly a GREAT COACH! This 3 day session undoubtedly changed the future of our business, and very well may have been the sole catalyst to save my company, my health and my marriage! A genuine “thank you” from the bottom of my heart.Bryan D. Horn, Owner, Over Under Clothing
I couldn’t have asked for a better team than Michael and Deborah. We couldn’t have done it without them.Robert Evans, President and CEO of Mealtracker Dietary Software
Greetings Mike. Thank you for the captivating and compelling presentation you made at the Phoenix presentation last week. Over many years in business yours was the most informative and well-presented presentation, on any subject, that I have ever attended! Your energy and enthusiasm combined with your concise and captivating support of your positions with easily understood examples and data was compelling.Pete L.
Thank you again for all your guidance and support. Any company will achieve what they intend, if they have you on their team!Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
We will highly recommend Generational Equity and Musa Jagne to any business owner about to embark on the same process.Karen S. Williams, CFO, BW Manufacturing
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