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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Design Environments and Boston Trade Interior Solutions

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the transaction between Marietta, Georgia-based Design Environments, and Boston Trade Interior Solutions, with offices in Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco.

Design Environments is a nationally renowned interior design firm specializing in the interior architecture and merchandising of model homes, clubhouses, and amenity/sales facilities throughout the United States. The company was founded in 1991 by CEO Donna DeLuca, who has grown the firm into a national leader in delivering high-quality design services.

Regarding the transaction, Ms. DeLuca stated, “The whole Design Environments team is very excited about the opportunities this combination presents. We strongly believe that Boston Trade will make a great partner in our continued growth and expansion.”

 

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Acquirer Boston Trade is a national leader in renovation, conversion, and new-build projects for the hotel and hospitality industry. The company’s focus on design-forward interior environments that exceed their clients’ economic, aesthetic, and functional requirements aligns perfectly with Design Environments’ long track record of service excellence to similar client sets.

The acquisition is backed by Blackford Capital of Grand Rapids, Michigan, a leading private equity firm in the lower middle market with over $650 million in transaction value and 35 acquisitions at the time of the Design Environments acquisition.

Boston Trade CEO Greg Kadens remarked, “We are thrilled to add such a prestigious and well-respected company to our portfolio. Design Environments is so well run that we can immediately focus on the opportunities created by combining it with our hotel interior design and procurement business. Donna’s leadership throughout the years has brought the company to this point, and we look forward to continuing to work with her as we strive to provide industry-leading services and solutions to our clients.”

This transaction reflects the power of Benchmark’s International’s proprietary “Fingerprint” process, which focuses on each client's unique value proposition when going to market. Regarding the Design Environments transaction, Benchmark International Transaction Director William Sullivan stated, “Our client’s goals and values were highly aligned with the buyer we sourced for them. From the leadership tier of the acquiring firm to the fund partners backing the deal, a shared vision was clear from the start. We are very proud of the role that Benchmark International played in the process.”

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What To Look For When Choosing An M&A Advisor

Selling your business is a paramount moment in your life. It’s something you absolutely want to get right so that you can extract the most value out of the deal—and so that you are protected from being swindled by a savvy buyer. It also takes a great deal of time and energy to sell a company, which can be rather difficult to spare when you are trying to focus on running a business. Most people simply do not have this time, energy, connections, or expertise that is required to put their company on the market. This is where the importance of an experienced M&A advisor comes in. By partnering with an M&A expert, they handle all the details of a deal, including due diligence, negotiations, marketing, vetting, and ensuring that you get the most value for your business. They also know how to navigate bumps in the process, and manage the expectations of all parties involved.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between WHS Homes and Jamaica Cottage Shop

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the transaction between Londonderry, VT-based Jamaica Cottage Shop (JCS) and WHS Homes of Claremont, NH.

Jamaica Cottage Shop has been in operation since 1995 and is a builder of sheds and small homes. WHS Homes, which builds an array of home types under multiple brands, adds a key piece to its diversified set of homebuilding options through the acquisition of Jamaica’s smaller-signature capabilities.

“With the current demand coming out of the pandemic, the company is in a very good place, so it was very strategic to pull the trigger in 2021,” said JCS founder Domenic Mangano.

 

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At the time of the closing, JCS was producing 2,000 buildings a year - most of which are used as cabins, cottages, and storage. In addition, the company sells kits and fully assembled homes and structures. JCS experienced buoyed results due to home purchasing dynamics fueled by Covid-19 during 2020 and 2021 and sought a strategic partnership to grow off a strong basis.

JCS staff and current leadership will continue to play key roles post-integration, helping to drive the company’s growth under a new set of opportunities moving forward.

“JCS is a key segment operator in a market that has experienced a significant boom during the last year and a half,” according to Benchmark International’s Transaction Director William Sullivan. “We knew now was the time to make this great match in a growing niche market. We believe that both the buyer and seller will benefit tremendously from this combination, and we’re very pleased to have played a key role in that process.”

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Ratliff Hardscape and ERW Site Solutions

ERW Site Solutions (an RW Assets, Inc. company) announced the acquisition of Ratliff Hardscape, LTD.

Ratliff Hardscape is a well-established hardscape construction company with a long-standing history of providing various services for civil and hardscape projects. These projects include single-family, multi-family, commercial, municipal, state, and oil & gas projects. Their turn-key solutions include budget and time management, self-performed concrete and masonry, construction management, and quality assurance.

Booder McWhorter will continue operating Ratliff Hardscape as Chief Operating Officer and President along with the entire Ratliff team to continue to provide quality services to their customers.

RW Assets, Inc is an infrastructure construction holding company. It owns ERW Site Solutions, a retaining wall and site service company; LandTec, a landscape, and irrigation company; and DesignBuild Consulting Services, an engineering firm.

 

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Randy O’Neal, Chief Operating Office of RW Assets, commented in the company’s press release, “This acquisition will further RW Assets’ market penetration from retaining walls, landscape and irrigation, engineering services and site services, into hardscape solutions such as screen walls, monuments, concrete solutions, such as sidewalks, patios, and other flat works. With the addition of Ratliff Hardscape, this aggregation will strengthen the brands of ERW Site Solutions, LandTec, and DesignBuild Consulting Services through the synergism created across the various product lines that are offered to our customers. Ultimately, we are now able to offer an array of products with an increased scope to better deliver our customers’ projects on time and on budget. The management team RWA has built over the last 5 years includes one hundred years of experience doing subcontracting and general contracting work across Texas and Southeastern United States.”

Kendall Stafford, Managing Partner at Benchmark International commented, “We are excited for ERW Site Solutions’ acquisition of Ratliff Hardscape. It appeared that the two companies share similar views in their visions and philosophies. We look forward to what the future has in store for the entities and wish them the best of luck with integration.”

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between The Fox Consulting Group, Inc and SIB Fixed Cost Reduction

Benchmark International facilitated the transaction of The Fox Consulting Group, Inc to SIB Fixed Cost Reduction.

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Why Leveraged Buyouts Are Making A Huge Comeback

The last time we saw leveraged buyouts (LBOs) occur with such frenzied speed and spending, it was during the years of 2006 and 2007, right before the financial crisis of 2008. As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, interest rates remain low, and many business owners forced into survival mode are seeking exit opportunities. Plus, private equity firms are more than ready to spend the record levels of cash on which they have been sitting for quite some time.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between an Undisclosed Client and Patrol Protect Secure, Inc.

Benchmark International is pleased to announce that their client, a vehicle patrol security company in select neighborhoods to both residential and commercial properties on the West Coast, sold to Patrol Protect Secure, Inc (PPS).

  • The acquisition was PPS’s fourth investment in the U.S. security industry. The value of this addition to PPS includes:
  • Partnering with a long-tenured, energetic management team will be a force multiplier for the PPS team.
  • Expanding the geographic footprint to include the West Coast market.
  • The company’s vehicle patrol services are staffed by off-duty law enforcement officers, a segment of the security market where we have had much success, driven by market demand and the desire to staff armed functions with highly-trained law enforcement officers.
  • The partnership provided ongoing leadership roles and opportunities for its management team while allowing one of the leaders to take a step back and transition into a part-time role, consistent with his goals.

PPS is backed by Sunlake Capital LLC and Mangrove Equity Partners. Despite challenges presented by COVID-19, Mangrove and Sunlake Capital worked closely with this add-on and Benchmark International’s transaction team to close the transaction with a straightforward structure.

 

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Sunlake Capital LLC is a private investment firm focused on flexible, long-term investments in family and entrepreneur-owned companies with a sustainable competitive advantage. With diverse capital relationships, Sunlake is able to devote its resources to the operations and strategy of its portfolio of businesses. The firm further differentiates itself through its long-term investment style, unique management partnership approach, and focus on industries and situations often under-served by the private equity community.

Mangrove Equity Partners is a private equity fund in the lower middle market that leverages its extensive experience creating solutions and getting deals done. Mangrove’s four-person internal operating team allows them to work through the complexity and help the owner/operators build enduring value. Mangrove has completed 140+ deals in 60+ industries.

Kendall Stafford, Benchmark International Managing Partner, commented, “We are very excited for our client and the team at PPS, Sunlake Capital, and Mangrove Equity. Based on our client’s goals and the buyer’s position in the market, our team anticipated that there could be a strong fit between the various companies. We discussed the acquisition with the acquirers before going back. Once we went to market and our client had additional options for potential acquirers, it was clear that the cultural fit between the parties and the deal being offered was a great solution for our client.”

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Talema Group, LLC and KAMIC Group AB

KAMIC Group AB has acquired all the shares in Talema Group LLC (“Talema”). Talema is a leading manufacturer of magnetic components such as transformers, toroids, inductors, and chokes with associated design work. The majority of components are developed specifically for bespoke customer applications, but standard components are also offered. The company’s customers are across a broad spectrum of sectors where the most important include logistics and warehousing, freight and transport, audio, and renewable energy.

Talema was founded in 1975 and has its registered office in the USA, but operational management is based at the head office in Donegal in northwest Ireland. The company has its own production facilities in the Czech Republic and India. Sales are conducted through own sales offices in the USA, Germany, Czech, India, and Ireland as well as a global network of agents and distributors. Talema has approximately 750 employees and annual sales of about EUR 12 million.

Former part-owner and President of Talema, Madison “Mac” Daily, commented, “We were a very unique family-run company: five companies in five countries on three continents. We had a potential buyer but needed expertise and guidance through the process of executing the sale. Tyrus O’Neill of Benchmark International provided the methodology, experience, and support needed to guide us successfully to completion. Without Tyrus’ assistance, I cannot imagine how we could have possibly finished the sale in such a strong position.”

 

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KAMIC Group (www.kamicgroup.com) is a corporate group consisting of 40 companies active in both trade and manufacturing. KAMIC’s common aim is to be a leading supplier of technical products and services in several well-defined product and market niches. The Group has approximately 900 employees in 13 countries in Northern Europe, Asia, and North America and annual sales of approximately SEK 2.2 billion. Their customers are found mainly in the manufacturing industry but also among electrical installers and construction companies.

“Talema is a highly respected global player with strong skills in the design, development and production of magnetic components. They have experienced and powerful management, and the company’s customer base and geographic presence provide an ideal complement to our existing business in this area. Talema, therefore, is ideally placed to be a valuable addition to our corporate group,” says Fredrik Celsing, President and CEO of KAMIC Group.

Tyrus O’Neill, Managing Partner of Benchmark International, added, “We would like to congratulate and thank Mac, Fredrik, and everyone involved in this deal on a successful acquisition. There are numerous complexities to cross-border transactions, which would not have been possible without everyone working together. The synergies for the two organizations are apparent, and we are confident this will be a successful endeavor for everyone involved. Congratulations again, and we wish all parties the best moving forward.”

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How Your Company Can Benefit From Cross-border M&A

Growing a company once it has reached a certain plateau of success can be challenging. Mergers and acquisitions are a powerful tool for boosting the growth of an existing company—especially cross-border M&A. As a business owner, you should consider the different ways your company can benefit from an international deal.

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Can It Be Too Early To Put My Business On The Market?

Timing the sale of a company can certainly be a tricky decision. You don’t want to sell too soon, and you don’t want to sell too late either. In both scenarios, you risk leaving money on the table if the timing isn’t right. So what is a business owner to do?

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Why 2021 Is A Seller’s Market

A Seller’s Market Versus a Buyer’s Market

In a seller's M&A market, excess demand for assets that are in limited supply gives sellers more power when it comes to pricing. Such demand can be generated and galvanized by circumstances that include a strong economy, lower interest rates, high cash balances, and solid earnings. Other factors that can instill confidence in buyers—leading to more bidders willing to pay a higher purchase price—include strong brand equity, significant market share, innovative technology, and streamlined distributions that are difficult to emulate or recreate from scratch.

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The Importance of Timing When Bringing a Company to Market

Any company sale process features numerous factors outside of the seller's control. These include the overall state of the economy, finance market behavior, and advancements within specific industries. Most sellers do not fully appreciate that taking the time to thoughtfully prepare a company for its own sale is one of the biggest opportunities to exert control in the process. This opportunity should not be missed.

In business, thinking long-term is crucial – if the overall goal revolves around an exit, business owners need to take advantage of their ability to shape and polish their companies in a way that will ultimately increase their chances of a successful exit. Preparation is key and when a sale is being contemplated, timing is essential. The earlier sellers start preparing, the higher their chances of finding the right buyer and successfully exiting. Ultimately, owners that plan and take enough time to address small issues/details make their businesses more attractive to both financial and strategic acquirers.

 

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Typically, it is not feasible to make radical changes to the nature of a business, product line, or management structure just before a sale, so conducting an internal review is generally the most time- and cost-effective approach – and one that gives sellers the best chance to maximize value. Below is a summary of key items for review prior to your sale process.

 

  • Financials – Getting your company's financials in good shape is essential and will ultimately facilitate getting a deal through each stage of the process smoothly. Choosing adequate accounting principles and standardizing monthly, quarterly, and annual statements (P&L, Cash Flow, and Balance Sheet) typically ensures businesses are valued fairly. Being able to show strong performance credibly – and present long-term sustainability – is essential. 
  • Litigation – If possible, sellers should settle all litigation before coming to market. Litigation is simply part of doing business, and buyers understand that. However, any more serious or particularly risky legal disputes will present an element of perceived risk and should be dispatched prior to the sale process.
  • Online Presence – Investing in sharpening the company's website and overall online presence is often a worthwhile use of time and resources when contemplating a sale. Consider developing and regularly updating the company's website. Be sure to announce company "wins," partnerships, contracts, and milestones on social media platforms. Prospective buyers will most likely access every available platform when engaging in purchasing activities; the more quality information they find, the better.
  • Management – In most cases, the Owner/CEO's leadership, relationships, and practices were key contributors to the business's overall success. When looking for the best deal, sellers must convince buyers that the stream of sales/earnings will remain unchanged (or, even better, grow) after they are no longer behind the wheel. This can be done by elaborating a succession plan (hiring/grooming a number two to take the Owner's position) and delegating critical tasks/functions of the business to members of the team that will remain with the company post-acquisition. 

Although the preparation period requires time and resources, by putting the effort in early, sellers can best leverage their companies’ overall position when entering the market. The chance of a successful transaction increases proportionately as time and effort are invested into preparation. When the business is fully prepared for a sale, all parties win, and the process usually runs most smoothly.

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How Do I Get The Most Out Of My SaaS Company?

As the owner of a Software as a Service (SaaS) company, there are several strategic steps you can implement in order to drive growth and maximize the value of your business.

1. Expand Geographically

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Sunbelt Waterproofing & Restoration and Northaven Capital Partners

Benchmark International’s client Sunbelt Waterproofing & Restoration, a Dallas-based commercial waterproofing, building restoration, and roofing company, has successfully obtained growth capital from Northaven Capital Partners in Dallas, Texas allowing the management team to pursue their growth plan.

Sunbelt Waterproofing & Restoration provides complete waterproofing services for commercial and independent contractor clients throughout Texas and parts of Oklahoma. It also includes restoration and maintenance services for commercial buildings and new construction projects. With over five decades of experience in solving unique structural and waterproofing problems, Sunbelt has proven it can provide outstanding and affordable quality solutions.

Northaven Capital Partners is an operationally focused firm investing in lower middle market companies with strong potential for growth. They focus on collaborative partnerships with experienced, driven, and ethical management teams to build alignment and drive value. Their principals have deep experience as operators across various industries from early-stage to multi-billion-dollar enterprises. Northaven Capital has a long-term investment horizon to support meaningful, long-term growth.

 

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Benchmark International proved its value in finding a partner with experience in the industry through its proprietary multi-medium marketing strategies. In addition, Benchmark International incorporated several campaigns with local, regional, and national associations.

Transaction Director Amy Alonso commented, “We are excited to watch our client continue to grow their business with a new partner. Our client has obtained growth capital allowing the management team to grow and provide a great working environment for its employees. On behalf of Benchmark International, we are excited to see continued success for both companies now and in the future.”

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Houston Crating, Inc. and MEI Rigging & Crating

Benchmark International’s client Houston Crating, Inc., a Houston, Texas-based Specialty Export Crating & Packing Company, has successfully sold to MEI Rigging & Crating.

Established by Ray Lubojasky in 1994, Houston Crating, Inc., a provider of crating and export packing services to the energy and logistics industries.

The seller stated regarding the process, “I have been very satisfied with Benchmark’s excellent service throughout this sales process, and I appreciate the hard work and professionalism offered by the Benchmark team.”

MEI Rigging & Crating, a portfolio company of Dorilton, was founded in the early 1990s and has grown to one of the largest providers of rigging, machinery moving, millwrighting, mechanical installation, commercial storage, crating, and export packing services in the US. With thousands of customers served, over 30 years of experience, and ten locations across the country, MEI is driven by its corporate vision of excellence, market leadership, and enduring value. MEI has a growing team of over 450 employees in 10 offices across the United States.

 

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Dorilton is a private investment firm that invests in businesses across a range of industry sectors, working in partnership with management to grow value over the long term. By providing funding and expertise to drive growth, Dorilton helps its companies and their people achieve their full potential.

Dan Cappello, the CEO and President of MEI, made the announcement: “We are delighted to grow the MEI-Houston team and enhance our service offering through this combination. MEI and HCI have performed joint work on customer projects in the past, and we see HCI’s professional approach and focus on safety as a great fit with our organization.”

Transaction Director Amy Alonso commented on the transaction, “We enjoyed working with Houston Crating to achieve a successful outcome on behalf of our client. Our client had several offers to choose from but felt that MEI was the best fit for the company, its employees, and its customers. We continue to see strong demand for acquisitions within the exporting and logistics space and have several bidders on standby. We hope that integration goes smoothly for the companies and look forward to seeing the combined companies have a strong future.”

 

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between TMI Electrical Contractors, Inc. and an ESOP

Benchmark International is pleased to announce that TMI Electrical Contractors, Inc. has successfully restructured as an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan).

TMI Electrical Contractors, Inc. is a full-service licensed electrical contractor headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, servicing commercial, industrial, and residential clients.

 

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Mark Gillespie, President of TMI Electrical Contractors, Inc., added: “TMI initially engaged Benchmark to explore exit strategy options. We worked with numerous potential groups while weighing the pros and cons of an internal restructuring and ultimately decided that an ESOP was the best route for not just our exit, but the wellbeing of the business and its employees long-term. I would like to thank Neal, Jonathan, Tyrus, and the Benchmark team for their professionalism and assistance through the ESOP process and their contribution to an overall successful result.”

Regarding the deal completion, Tyrus O’Neill, Managing Partner of Benchmark International, stated: “Mark and the team at TMI are a fantastic group and we’re excited to see them take the ESOP path. It was a pleasure working with them through the process and we wish them nothing but the best moving forward.”

 

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Owning a Lifestyle Business

A lifestyle business is a business that sustains or supports the income and personal needs of the owner. The business is profit-oriented, but the owner's goal is not to grow the company but maximize profits. The goal of a lifestyle business is for the owner to enjoy a work/life balance while generating enough profit to support the owner's current lifestyle without negatively affecting the owner's personal life.

Often, lifestyle businesses are small businesses and center around the owner's passion. Some examples of lifestyle businesses include e-commerce clothing boutiques, breweries, and art galleries.

Lifestyle businesses are different than being self-employed. Typically, when you are self-employed, you work defied hours. Like any business, a lifestyle business has additional time requirements. You open it up daily and work long hours and weekends, but it intertwines with your personal life. The business may be online or have a physical presence. It may or may not sell goods, or it may provide services to others.

 

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Why would someone want to own a lifestyle business? The owner does not have to sacrifice their personal life. You are not required to work certain hours, answer to superiors, or deliver specific amounts of work on strict deadlines. There are no obligations to investors because the owner provides the funding for the business, so they also receive all the profits. You have freedom of time and location, so you can come and go as you please. The owner controls all aspects of the business. There is no board or third party to report to on the state of the business. The business provides financial freedom because the owner is earning an income that supports their chosen lifestyle. Typically, since there are few employees or other overheads, the lifestyle business tends to be positive cash flow early on.

Like all businesses, there will be challenges. The owner may struggle to fund the business at times or have limited funding. Finding the right employees could be challenging because a lifestyle business tends to have fewer employee benefits than other employers within the market.

When considering starting or buying a lifestyle business you should take the following steps:

  • Define your goals: Make a list of what you hope to achieve with a lifestyle business. What do you want to accomplish with the business? What are your personal goals? Consider the amount of freedom you are seeking. Set an income target for your personal needs.
  • Identify a passion or interest: Businesses can fail because the owner losses interest. A lifestyle has a higher chance of succeeding because the owner is passionate about the business or purpose. People tend to excel at their passion because they tend to spend more time on the topic because they enjoy it.
  • Find a problem that needs to be solved: The business is likely to have more customers for your business if you offer them an option to solve a problem. People should be willing to pay for the problem’s solution.
  • Decide on the business: After assessing the items above, you should have a good idea of what type of business to buy or start. Put together a business plan to help execute the strategy.
  • Execute on the plan: Now is the time to execute your business plan. If you are going to purchase a lifestyle business and need help, there are many resources available to help with the purchase process. If you are going to start the business, begin by establishing the business. You may need to purchase inventory and begin to target clients.

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Selling Your Company? Beware Of Strangers Bearing Gifts

If you are considering selling your company, you should be aware of a certain menace that could have you in its crosshairs. There are direct buyers out there who intentionally prey on business owners, attempting to acquire a company by blindsiding its owner with big promises and, more importantly, taking advantage of their lack of guidance from a seasoned M&A professional. These buyers purposely look to avoid competition for a company because competition drives valuations higher, and they want to make an acquisition on the cheap—in addition to other shady maneuvers.

Bait & Switch
Some buyers will attempt to pull “bait & switch” tactics. To initially intrigue a seller, the buyer will present a high dollar amount. As they conduct due diligence and get the target more and more committed to the deal, they begin chipping away at the value until they reach a price and terms that are far more favorable for the buyer. This is typically an exhausting process for the seller and can lead to plenty of regret. If the deal falls apart, the seller may be reluctant to restart the process with another buyer, thinking the process will just be the same. In reality, it could have been completely different for the seller if they had a reputable M&A specialist on their side from the beginning.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Harryco LLC and Silverbridge Capital

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the acquisition of Richmond, Virginia-based Harryco LLC by Silverbridge Capital.

Harryco is a mental health organization that provides a variety of personal, group counseling, and mental health services to children, adolescents, adults, and their families. Harryco was founded in 2009 by Dr. Harold Watkins as a small mental health organization offering intensive in-home counseling services to children and adolescents. The company has since grown operations to four cities and counties in Virginia and now provides a full range of community support services to a wide set of patients.

Silverbridge is a New Jersey-based private equity firm with investments in mental health and other patient-centered healthcare organizations.

 

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Harryco’s partnership with Silverbridge represents a key next step in the company’s mission to provide best-in-class mental health services to an expanding base of patients. Community leader and Harryco founder, Dr. Harold Watkins, will stay on with the company to continue guiding Harryco during this next phase of growth.

On the acquisition, Dr. Watkins stated, “the Benchmark International team was fantastic throughout this entire process. They did an amazing job as an advocate for me and my company. I would absolutely recommend Benchmark International to anyone in healthcare services considering a sale process.”

Benchmark International Transaction Director William Sullivan commented: “Dr. Watkins is an impressive individual who has built a great organization that serves its communities well. Our team was dedicated to getting a great outcome for him individually and one that would enable his business to partner for continued growth. It was a pleasure working with Dr. Watkins and his team, and we wish him every success moving forward.”

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Benchmark International Facilitated the Transaction Between Regatta Real Estate Management Inc and Fyve, LLC

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the transaction between Regatta Real Estate Management Inc (“Regatta”) and Fyve, LLC (“Fyve”).

Founded in 1994, Regatta is a Florida-based business headquartered in Miami. The company is a full-service real estate property management provider specializing in association management, investment property management, and condo conversions. Throughout its operating history, the company has remained focused on the small business, customer service-oriented approach.

Fyve is a nationwide, full-service real estate management solutions company that is redefining the experience for owners, residents, and tenants. Prior to the acquisition, Fyve had 11 locations across six states. With this acquisition, they will be able to reach into the Miami market and expand their Florida operations.

Senior Deal Associate Nick Woodyard at Benchmark International added, “It is always great seeing two companies come together where both parties can substantially benefit. It was a pleasure working with Tim and the Fyve team throughout the transaction. On behalf of Benchmark International, we wish both parties continued success.”

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Benchmark International Facilitated the Transaction of CPR Plus, LLC to Allied 100, LLC

On April 30th, 2021, Benchmark International facilitated the sale of CPR Plus, LLC (serving the Greater St. Louis area) to Allied 100, LLC of Madison, WI.

The seller, CPR Plus, provides life-saving skills training to more than 100,000 individuals for close to 30 years in the St. Louis area. Their comprehensive and convenient CPR training courses are accredited by the American Heart Association and administered by friendly instructors with extensive experience.

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The Impact of COVID-19 on Healthcare M&A

The Covid pandemic has placed us squarely in unprecedented times. We know this is not exactly news at this point. However, counter to the tenor of most pieces you've probably read on the topic during the past 12 months, this one aims to shine some light on one industry that has thrived: The US healthcare market, more specifically, healthcare M&A. Healthcare M&A has generally been a big winner in 2020 and into 2021 and it's happening at both ends of the market.

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Benchmark International's Gregory Jackson Named CEO Of The Year

In the GAMECHANGERS (ACQ5) 2021 GLOBAL AWARDS, Gregory P. Jackson, CEO of Benchmark International, has been named CEO of The Year in the area of Corporate Finance.

The ACQ is a leading corporate news publication serving the sector since 2003, with a global audience of more than 261,000 subscribers. The GAMECHANGERS (ACQ5) GLOBAL AWARDS celebrate achievement, innovation, and brilliance, recognizing the world's most outstanding organizations and professionals.

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Tips for Making Sellers Comfortable with You as a Potential Buyer

The acquisition process can understandably be a very daunting task for sellers, let alone an uncomfortable experience that pulls back the curtains on their business and its most intimate information. Many sellers realize this is not their area of expertise and will make the informed decision to contract with a sell-side M&A advisory firm before officially entering the marketplace. The M&A advisory represents the seller, but can function as your ally as a buyer if you let them because they have incentive to get a deal done. Although M&A advisors can guide a seller through the sales process and educate them on market norms, they’re not capable of self-fabricating the comfort level between buyer and seller. Over time, a seller’s relationship with a potential buyer will prove to be most advantageous in getting to the finish line of a transaction, as there will be numerous items both sides will have to work through together. Unfortunately, agreements can fall apart due to a lack of mutual comfort between the buyer and seller, and this is typically a result of a combination of multiple factors set in motion long before official due diligence even began. The following are steps you should consider when working side by side with a seller during the transaction life cycle.

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M&A Expectations After The Covid-19 Pandemic

It’s no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic slowed M&A deal activity overall in 2020. According to data from PitchBook, more than 2,000 transactions closed for a value of $336.8 billion in Q2 of last year. That represents a 41 percent decline in the number of deals from Q1. Yet, deals did pick up in the second half of the year, which is likely to continue, as businesses are poised for improved economic conditions that leave COVID-19 in the rearview mirror.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated The Acquisition Of ASAP Group By Terratest Group

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the transaction between ASAP Group (“ASAP”) and Terratest Group (“Terratest”).

Founded in 2006, ASAP is a leading foundation company specializing in a broad variety of shoring and foundation support methods, with a unique patented Sheetpiler™ technology that makes ASAP one of the premier shoring companies in Florida.

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The Importance Of Being “Sale Ready”

As a business owner, maybe you haven’t given much thought to selling your company. Or maybe you’ve bounced the idea around but not too seriously. It’s pretty common for business owners to think, “I have years before I plan on selling my business. Why would I worry about that now?” Well, here’s the thing. Life is unpredictable. Just look at how prepared the world was for the COVID-19 pandemic. We think it’s safe to say that no business owner was prepared for that.

But being prepared for the unexpected isn’t the only reason that it is important to have your business in “sale ready” shape at all times, even if you’re not ready to sell. If the company is not in ready condition, it could cost you financially. And it goes beyond that. Always operating your company as if you are ready to sell accomplishes several very beneficial objectives. It ensures that you are operating at peak performance with a focus on profitability at all times, and it helps you avoid being too late to the game to make the necessary changes to be ready to sell. A person’s priorities in life can change quickly or even gradually over a span of years, and you might not have the time to correct any issues that would impact the valuation of your company and, ultimately, its sale price. It’s important to remember that properly preparing a company to go to market can take years. When push comes to shove, if you end up in a situation where you need to sell, not being ready can be a costly mistake.   

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10 Factors That Drive Business Value Beyond Revenue

The value of a company extends beyond the amount of revenue it generates. As a business owner, you should be monitoring the value of your company at all times, but it is especially important if you are considering exiting or retiring within the next several years, or even up to a decade from now.

Company valuations are based on far more factors than just financial statements and multiples. The process involves the forecasting of the future of the business based on several key value drivers. Sometimes these can be sector-specific, but there are many core drivers that apply to any type of business, as outlined below.

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Mid-Management: Dreams of Owning a Business

Have you always dreamt of owning your own business? What about having your boss’ job? If you are in management and in a privately owned company, it might be possible for you to be the boss and the owner one day. However, many mid-level managers do not know how to accomplish their dream of owning a company that currently employs them. The good news is that your dream can become a reality.

One of the challenges of transitioning from an employee to a business owner is thinking like a business owner. As an employee, your manager/owner provides guidance, and often you may not question the guidance. As a business owner, you make all the decisions, set goals, and create a plan that will drive the future of the company. Then, you will be the one that has to drive and financially fund the vision. Yes, you will develop mentors around you, but as a business owner, you are the one that benefits and suffers from the positive and negative outcomes of your decisions.  

While you may work long hours currently, be prepared for a more immense workload and additional hours. Employees have a work schedule, and business owners that operate the company do not have work schedules. You are on call 24/7, and it is hard to get away from the business as you always carry that burden with you. Vacations are interrupted and weekends are often spent at the business. However, if you are in a place in your life where you can dedicate the required time, mentally and physically, to the business, the long term pay-off, whether it be financial or time freedom, can be significant.

Interview your owner and shadow him/her if possible. Ask the company owner for insight into their day. Understand the stresses that the business owner deals with daily. Some of the stresses will be confidential, such as employee issues or financial issues, so anticipate that your receiving limited insight.

 

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

 

Then commit to making your dream a reality. Ask the business owner their exit strategy. Some owners may be open to a slow exit where you can purchase the company over a few years, or they may want a clean exit where you have the option to purchase the company immediately and the current owner walks away after a short handover period. Having an introductory conversation about your interest in purchasing the company is going to be important. Once you understand the business owner's personal goals regarding their exit, it will allow you to structure a deal to achieve both parties' goals.

It is important to prepare your financing so you know how much you can afford. This knowledge is key to structuring an offer. The business owner will need to share the information around the business' performance for a bank to underwrite an acquisition. The company's current banker might be a good starting point. After your conversation with the business owner, ask if they would be open to making an introduction to the company’s banker. The banker understands the business and risk as they have underwritten the business previously. Their goal would be to underwrite the business to incorporate the new ownership. 

Be patient and ask for help when needed. Purchasing any business can be an emotional process. If you have never been through the process previously, you may need to seek help from your advisers or hire an experienced buyer side M&A advisor. There are many resources available to you to help with the purchase.

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Understanding Working Capital

Working capital, also referred to as net working capital, is the measure of a company's liquidity, operational efficiency, and short-term financial status. It is the difference between a business’s current assets, its inventory of materials and goods, and its existing liabilities. Net operating working capital is the difference between current assets and non-interest-bearing current liabilities. Typically, they are both calculated similarly, by deducting current liabilities from the current assets. So, essentially, if a business’s current assets total $500,000 and its current liabilities are $100,000, then its working capital is $400,000. But there are a few variations on the calculation formula based on what a financial analyst wants to include or exclude:

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Trufora and Genesis Group, Inc.

Trufora, brings a new standard to dermatology by providing the market with skincare products that contain ingredients proven to be effective, safe, and non-irritating, and used at levels proven to achieve a visible, clinical benefit. The company provides products that allow every woman to feel confident, inspired, and beautiful in their skin. The products are made to simplify a women’s route and life with fewer steps but more results. Their consumer skincare line is free from more than 1,300 known toxins.

Trufora’s skincare line has been a featured product for HSN, Birchbox, and Ipsy to name a few. The company has also launched a membership model allowing customers to have access to their favorite Trufora products at a discounted price.

 

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

 

A critical element of completing this transaction was identifying and marketing to a variety of potential acquirer classes on behalf of Trufora. We were pleased to see that three very different strategies each produced at least one eager acquirer to submit an LOI to acquire Trufora. One of the buyers had a marketing background heavily tied to Amazon, one of the platforms Trufora utilizes for its products. Another buyer was from China and looking to acquire a US brand to help increase their Asian beauty empire. The third buyer, Genesis Group, was an interesting fit given, its founder, Artem Mariychin’s background in the consumer predictive analytics space. Trufora believed that the partnership with the Genesis Group was the best fit for the future of the company and is positioned to grow the company to the next level. This supports the notion that the obvious buyer or the usual suspects are often not the best prospects.

The Genesis Group was founded by Artem Mariychin with the goal to invest in opportunities that could benefit from his experience. Artem is the co-founder and CEO of Zodiac. Nike acquired Zodiac, a predictive analytics company, in 2018. While CEO of Zodiac, Artem built a company that provided retailers with a tool to predict the long-term value of each customer instantly and accurately, also known as the customer’s zCLV or Zodiac’s Customer Lifetime Value. Marketers use the zCLV to discover who their future highest value customers will be so that they can retain those valuable customers long-terms and acquire similar customers.

Prior to Zodiac, Artem worked at Goldman Sachs, Highbridge Capital, 3G Capital, and Perry Creek Capital.

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Can I Put My Business On The Market Even Though I'm Not Actively Looking To Sell?

Maybe you’re not sure if you are ready to sell your business, but you’re curious about what you could learn if you put it on the market. You can always put your company on the market at any time, but you should understand the right way to do it, and everything that you need to consider.

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Benchmark International Completes 52 Transactions in 52 Weeks for US Offices

What Does It Take to Complete 52 Transactions in 52 Weeks?
2020 brought us all a huge amount of uncertainty. From an unexpected global pandemic to an election year, business owners tooling with the idea of a transaction were skeptical of success and market interest. With immense challenges presenting themselves, Benchmark International US offices took the year by the horns and hit another record year of completed transactions.

Following their 2019 accomplishment of 40 successful deals, Benchmark International’s US  transaction teams saw the opportunity to take it one step further, completing 52 domestic deals. This is a 33% growth rate in the midst of one of the most trying economic environments to date.

The question here is: What does it take to complete an average of one deal per week, every week, in the midst of a global pandemic?

Keep the Consistency

The five US transaction teams showed consistency when working with our clients, no matter the deal size or time on market. Being industry agnostic allowed Benchmark International to bring a wide range of companies to market in 2020; from quick deals to major transactions, the team displayed prodigious work ethic to find the perfect fit for their clients.

COVID-19 tested global corporate environments, but Benchmark International adapted to the temporary work from home changes with ease. Distractions while working from home could have easily altered the company's success, but with virtual communication and determination to find the best for our clients, the team proved resilient. Benchmark International’s 2019 modernization of its tech systems, from top to bottom, paid off handsomely.  A new CRM, the move to cloud-based storage, and widespread adoption of Microsoft Teams for inter-office communications all occurred in the first months of 2020, just in time to a two-month work from home period, a minor annoyance as opposed to a hinderance.

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

Show Resilience

Both buyers and sellers saw a shift in focus when COVID-19 hit challenging the way M&A firms traditionally go about business. It took tedious due diligence amongst the five transaction teams to ensure the value of the companies represented was preserved.

2020 financial concerns are guaranteed to be on business owners' minds when moving into conversations regarding a full/partial sale in 2021. There is not yet a "market standard" on COVID-19 "add backs." However, owing to the breadth of its transaction experience both domestically and globally over the last year, Benchmark International is helping to shape that emerging standard, pushing for fairness to sellers wherever possible and reminding buyers that their true interest lies in determining how the business will perform under normal circumstances..

Stick True to the Foundation of Benchmark International

Benchmark International was formed on the ideology that every business is a family business. The dedication demonstrated by everyone at the firm (from analysts to directors to executive leadership) is what stands this team apart from their competitors. Sticking to the robust business model originally set forth by the founders, Benchmark International was ready and able to handle challenges that were unrecognizable prior to the year 2020.

As Benchmark International continues to set records statewide, the notable accomplishments extend beyond that; for SIX years in a row, the company as a whole completed 100+ transactions per year. This shows that geographical location, although important, doesn't outweigh work ethic, consistency, and resilience amongst a team like Benchmark International.

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Can A PPP Loan Help or Hurt My Company Valuation?

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted businesses of all sizes, affecting the value of many of those businesses. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was created by the U.S. government to get businesses through the pandemic, and includes the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which is designed to give private businesses access to cash so that they can continue to pay employees and cover other expenses, such as health insurance, rent/mortgages, and utilities, over a 24-week period. The loans contain provisions for forgiveness as long as the company meets certain requirements and certifications. The PPP loan and its associated forgiveness have impacted how company valuations should be determined for the recipients.

For company valuation purposes, there needs to be an understanding of the reasons that the business got the PPP loan. The loan could indicate that the company has been under duress. Because of this, past financial statements may not accurately represent the future of the business.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between The OpenSource Group of Companies and Workforce Holdings

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the transaction between OpenSource International LTD, OpenSource Intelligent Solutions (Pty) Ltd (OpenSource) and Workforce Holdings Ltd.

OpenSource is a South African and Mauritius-based business that was established in 1993. The company places skilled SAP resources on both a contract and permanent basis as clients utilize SAP’s Enterprise Resource Planning system. The company also provides SAP training and other services, including SAP site maintenance and payroll outsourcing. OpenSource is an accredited SAP partner and resources consultants across all SAP modules and complementary technologies for companies internationally.

Managing Director Michelle Viret has over 35 years of IT experience and specialises in marketing and sales, focusing on resourcing and training. Delighted with the outcome, she commented on the transaction, saying, “Again, thank you for introducing OpenSource to the right company upfront. You heard our brief, and from the first meeting, the long-term choice we made is right for us. Our business fits hand in glove with the Workforce philosophies, operation, and culture – it is certainly a ‘can do’ attitude, and it is refreshing to have input from leaders that have years of business knowledge and savvy, specifically someone like Mr. Ronny Katz.”

Workforce Holdings and its Group of companies provide employment, training, healthcare, wellness, financial services, and lifestyle benefits to individuals and their employers. Established in 1972, Workforce Holdings is listed on the JSE Altx exchange, employing over 1,340 permanent staff and paying approximately 34,000 assignees.

 

Is transformation important to your business?

 

The Group’s business model reflects its diversification and is structured into five operating segments: staffing and recruitment, training and consulting, employee health management, financial and lifestyle products, and process outsourcing. This structure facilitates integration and diversification of services, including expansion into adjacent services and new markets.

Detailing their motives for the acquisition, Workforce stated that this transaction allowed it to further expand its human capital services offering. “This is consistent with Workforce’s previously stated growth and diversification strategy. The acquisition introduces a profitable and specialised business with a broad footprint and a driven, entrepreneurial management team into the Workforce group,” it said.

Ronny Katz, chief executive officer of Workforce, said, “The OpenSource Group offers services as an accredited SAP partner, allowing Workforce to offer leading solutions in a new and diverse market. Also, this complementary offering provides both Workforce and the OpenSource Group with exciting cross-selling opportunities within their respective customer bases.” He added: “Dealing and engaging with Benchmark was a positive experience. The professionalism and pragmatism of their deal team assisted us as buyers in expediting, and ultimately finalize, the transaction.”

Tiaan Smit, representing Benchmark International’s South African office, added, “For the Benchmark International team, understanding Michelle and the unique strengths of the OpenSource business that she has built up over the last 28 years was key to finding the right acquirer. We believe that Workforce is the perfect match, and by leveraging Workforce’s established backing and support, Michelle’s drive, energy, and strategic foresight will take the businesses to even greater heights. We’ll be following their progress closely and look forward to their mutual success.”

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between ParcelNinja (Pty) LTD and Imperial Holdings LTD

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the transaction between ParcelNinja (Pty) Ltd and Imperial Holdings Ltd.

ParcelNinja (Pty) Ltd was founded in 2013 by Justin Drennan, Ryan Drennan, and Terence Murphy, launching its first commercial services in October 2014. It offers South African online shops an affordable outsourcing solution for all their fulfillment needs.

Delighted with the transaction, Justin Drennan added: "I was genuinely amazed at the pace and energy injected into this process by the team at Benchmark. Being prepared to engage directly with Imperial and having the advice I needed to get the deal done correctly certainly boosted my confidence at the negotiation table. Imperial is an outstanding company, and we are exceptionally pleased to have found a home with them."

Imperial is an African-focused provider of integrated market access and logistics solutions, focusing on five key industries - healthcare, consumer, automotive, chemicals, and industrial and commodities. Ranked among the top 30 global logistics providers and listed on the JSE, Imperial actively seeks out and leverages new technology to deliver innovative, end-to-end solutions to improve their customer's lives with access to quality products and services.

 

Is transformation important to your business?

 

"Enabled with leading software, processes, and people capabilities in South Africa, ParcelNinja provides fulfillment in both B2C and B2B channels including the informal market, supported by the management and optimization of courier parcel deliveries," said Mohammed Akoojee, Imperial Group Chief Executive Officer. "This acquisition supports Imperial's strategic ambitions to accelerate our digital capabilities and expand our logistics and market access services into last-mile distribution, e-commerce fulfillment, footprint and scale in Africa while ensuring local relevance for our clients and principals."

Commenting on the transaction, Dustin Graham added, "It is certainly encouraging for Benchmark to conclude a transaction that provides distinct advantages to both buyer and seller by each leveraging off the other's strengths and existing capability. We look forward to seeing ParcelNinja grow in concert with Imperial and deliver outstanding service to a vast new basket of customers throughout South Africa."  

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Accelerating SaaS Growth With A Strategic Partner

Strategic partnerships can be game-changers for SaaS (Software as a Service) companies. Sales revenue is clearly of vital importance, but it takes more than just those numbers to make things happen on a larger scale. Relationships are the bedrock of business. If you are looking to drive growth, a strategic partnership can be a very powerful tool to help your company increase its audience, build upon the brand, and tap into new markets. All of this, in turn, can prop up your sales team and boost your overall growth.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction of Greentex Landscaping, Inc. to Zodega Landscape Services, LLC

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the acquisition of GreenTex Landscaping Inc. by Zodega Landscape Services, LLC.

GreenTex Landscaping Inc. performs landscaping, groundskeeping, edging, trimming, mulch, aeration, and other lawn care services across the North Dallas area, servicing residential and commercial customers. GreenTex has been successfully operating for more than 13 years and has received the Angie’s List Super Service Award for outstanding customer service for six years in a row.

Zodega offers high-quality lawn care and landscaping services to high-end residential and commercial properties across the Houston metropolitan area. In addition to standard landscaping and lawn maintenance, Zodega provides tailored pressure washing and pest control to suit customer needs.

 

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

 

Bill Biancaniello, President of G-Tex, Corp. and former owner of GreenTex Landscaping, commented, “The Benchmark team did a fantastic job of keeping the transaction on track. They were available to provide support throughout the entire transaction process and were particularly supportive in giving the final push which got the transaction over the finish line.”

Regarding the deal completion, Anthony Hernandez, Benchmark International Transaction Director, shared, “the Benchmark team is delighted to announce the successful sale of GreenTex Landscaping to Zodega Landscaping. The team is excited to see Zodega’s successful expansion with the strategic acquisition of GreenTex. It was a particular pleasure for Benchmark International to work with G-Tex and the team wishes each of the parties every success in their future endeavors.”

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Yellow Jersey Logistics and LCS Evolution

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the transaction between Yellow Jersey Logistics (PTY) Ltd and LCS Evolution (Pty) Ltd.

Yellow Jersey Logistics (Pty) Ltd offers niche transport solutions to the clearing and forwarding industry. The company has become entrenched in the industry, forming an integral part of their clients’ service offerings through reliability, speed, and the ability to tailor bespoke solutions. The company’s client base comprises leading freight forwarders and clearing agents, dealing with the import and export of a variety of goods. The company has maintained these relationships through excellent customer service.

The LCS Group (Pty) Ltd is a diversified logistics and end-to-end supply chain solutions business, operating primarily within the bulk mining and materials industry. The Group is driven by an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire for innovation and comprises several companies, including LCS Logistics, LCS Transport Solutions, Bay Shipping, LCS Fuels, LCS Prime Agri, LCS Fleet Support, and LCS Financial Services.

The LCS Group’s Head Office is situated in Heidelberg, Gauteng, with satellite offices/depots in Newcastle, Richards Bay, Durban, Kuruman, Brits, Delmas, Cape Town, Hoopstad & Camperdown.

 

Is transformation important to your business?

 

Reon Britz, the CEO of LCS Group, said: “Yellow Jersey represents a key pillar within LCS’s logistics and supply chain portfolio and will enable the Group to further diversify its offering within the industry as well as positions it strongly for future growth. We would like to thank the Benchmark Intl team and in particular, Johann Haasbroek, for all the assistance in getting this important transaction across the line. We really appreciate all the efforts.”

Commenting on the transaction, Transaction Director Johann Haasbroek with Benchmark International added, “Transactions of this nature are particularly enjoyable when the synergies are self-evident, and the benefit to both entities easily apparent. I am confident that with LCS’s resources brought to bear, an already very successful company will go on to flourish still further in such a group environment.”

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between River City Medical Associates and Skylight Health Group, Inc.

Benchmark International successfully facilitated the transaction between River City Medical Associates (RCMA), a Florida network of medical clinics, and Skylight Health Group, Inc. of Ontario, Canada.

The seller, RCMA, is a multi-location, multi-specialty medical group offering various services, including primary care, urgent care, chiropractic treatment, physical therapy, pain management, neurology, otolaryngology, plastic surgery, and podiatry. The buyer, Skylight Health, is a healthcare and technology company operating in the U.S. market with more than 30 medical clinics across 14 states.

The acquisition of a U.S. healthcare provider by a Canadian healthcare company introduced unique vectors for a successful deal. Regulatory hurdles existed on both sides, adding depth to the deal dynamics.

 

Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

 

Skylight Health Co-Founder and CEO Prad Sekar noted of the process, “Benchmark International was able to facilitate a smooth and quick transaction that helped both parties achieve their goals. We highly recommend them to anyone looking to purchase a company.”

Regarding the deal completion, Transaction Director William Sullivan and Benchmark International commented, “Because this process involved the purchase of a private US healthcare provider by a publicly-traded Canadian acquirer, there were a number of regulatory and other issues to navigate. Ultimately, however, we found the right buyer for our fantastic client and were thrilled to manage the complexity necessary to get a great outcome for both parties.”

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