Interview

In: Business and Management

Submitted By stevenphilipwar
Words 571
Pages 3
Stefan Zehle, CEO, Coleago Consulting Ltd
77 Abbotsbury Road, London W14 8EP, UK
Tel: +44 7974 356 258

1) In a downturn, what are the broad upsides and downsides of getting into an M&A? What should companies be particularly careful about at this time?

In a downturn there are excellent acquisition opportunities for companies with cash. The issue is really quite simple, take advantage of forced sales. Many sales that are now coming up are "fire sales" where the seller desperately seeks cash because they cannot roll over loans. There are few buyers around because many potential buyers that may otherwise be interested have no cash. This further depresses the sales price. Those companies that have a strong business case may be able to buy a business at rock bottom prices, provided it can be financed all cash.

2) As per your analysis, do M&As work better in a downturn as compared to an up cycle?

It depends what perspective you are taking. Clearly in an upturn M&A activity increases because sellers want to cash in and buyers find it easy to finance acquisitions with debt. However, for the buyer there is a great risk of overpaying, i.e. not achieving the projected ROI because future cash flow expectations were inflated. Many of the recent private equity deals where on the top of the cycle and a destroyed a great deal of value for the buyer.

3) What are the common mistakes companies make while engaging into M&As at this time?

A seller may need cash very, very quickly. This may leave insufficient time for proper due diligence. Any warranties issued by the seller may be useless if there is no cash to back them. So if a buyer rushes in he may still overpay. The following M&A wisdom should be remembered: "What you see is what you get; what you don't see gets you".

4) Is the structure of the deals, vis-à-vis cash/equity/debt component…...

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