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M&A And The Big Data Industry

“Big data” has revolutionized the once traditional methods of analyzing data, making it possible to source more data at a much faster rate and with a great deal of variables. Companies that curate these massive databases do so to help businesses across all industries make more carefully calculated business decisions.

Big data sources revenue from software, hardware and professional services. It encompasses security, storage, infrastructure, networking, discovery tools, applications, and analytics, just to name a few.

The power of big data has grown with the widespread use of smartphones, social media and apps, and its technology continues to grow into edge environments, such as network nodes and industrial machines. Data is flowing between organizations of all sizes to help save time, save money, improve relationships, provide valuable insights, and advance technology. Big data is a major player in automation, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and the Internet of things—innovations that are impacting virtually every industry in the world.

In an increasingly digitized society, everyone is looking to get a piece of the data pie. Technology companies are built on and around data. Advertising agencies look to acquire data companies in order to gain a competitive edge when it comes to understanding consumer behavior and targeting ads to audiences. Healthcare companies are spending billions on data companies to transform everything from precision medicine to medical records. In education, teaching and learning methodologies are being transformed by the use of big data. Mergers and acquisitions firms are using big data to improve target company searches and results. Essentially, there is no industry that is not somehow touched by the use of big data, and that results in sweeping opportunities for M&A transactions.

 

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Big Data’s Impact on M&A

While individuals, companies and governments across many different business sectors are using big data more frequently, new techniques are making it possible to analyze big data more effectively. This can have a significant effect on certain areas of M&A, such as strategy, business model validation, and valuation.

  • M&A strategies include value creation, operational synergies, risk arbitrage, and company turnaround. An M&A strategy is defined by the goals of the company, the skillsets of the M&A team members, and market factors that determine timing and viability. These factors are becoming more data driven in the making of strategic choices.
  • Big data is greatly improving M&A target searches and screening processes. Better screening can lead to better matching of buyers and sellers, leading to a higher percentage of successful deal closings.
  • Big data is making it possible to get a more detailed analysis of a company’s core business model regarding growth, market patterns, customer preferences, and market reaction to products.
  • Combining big data with market-based valuation techniques will make it possible to extract multiples from much wider market databases. It will also make it faster and more reliable to compare a target company and the company’s valuation reference set.

Regulatory and Privacy Issues

While big data offers major benefits for companies of all industries—with benefits that are passed on to customers through a heightened understanding of their needs—there can be certain challenges when it comes to legal issues that concern privacy, government regulations, international access, and increased scrutiny of information collection practices. 

A prime example of what big data must contend with is the changing privacy laws in Europe. In 2018, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)replaced an older law from 1995, creating a new regulation for privacy that affects organizations within the E.U., as well as organizations outside of the E.U. that offer goods and services to residents of the E.U. In addition to requiring clear privacy notices for users, the law also requires that organizations give 72-hours notice of a data breach. Users must also be given certain information about how their data will be used and are allowed to request deletion of their content.

The GDPR law is limited in that it only regulates data pertaining to individuals and not organizations, but it does have the potential to limit the type of data gathered. With such a rapidly growing industry that affects so many people and industries, it can be expected that other countries will take similar actions to regulate the use of big data, especially in the United States.

 

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We do things differently. Please reach out to our M&A specialists at Benchmark International if you are thinking of selling a company in the middle and lower middle markets. We will formulate a partnership that works in your best interests, using our unique databases to thoroughly identify every possible option until we find the perfect solution for you and your business.

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Don’t Delay Your Exit Strategy

In the latest to happen in the rollercoaster that is Brexit, another delay has been granted to the UK with EU members agreeing to an extension until the 31st January.

Meanwhile, reports from the EU are warning that economies may be falling into a recession with the potential decline in part due to Brexit, with countries particularly struggling when dependent on exports.

Despite this, M&A activity has not halted as there are still plenty of opportunities as it’s a way for companies to grow and develop and dealmakers are always on the lookout for strategic acquisitions. In fact, while dealmakers may be cautious and their timelines may be extended on deals, the uncertainty caused by Brexit has carved opportunities for dealmakers as they are ready to take advantage of factors such as the weak pound sterling making for cheap UK assets. This has resulted in the corporate mid-market remaining relatively robust with last year’s figures at record highs.

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Therefore, if thinking of an exit strategy the time to act is now before it is too late. Potential recession could be a sign of things to come and while M&A has prospered so far despite Brexit, too many business owners are leaving their planning for Brexit until the last minute to wait for certainty from politicians. If certainty is guaranteed, this could lead to the market becoming saturated once a deal has been agreed or, if uncertainty continues to persist more and more economies could fall into recession – so it’s best to strike while the iron is hot.

Still unsure if now is the best time to sell? Read the below: 

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M&A In The Global Health and Life Insurance Industry

Common drivers of mergers and acquisitions in the global health and life insurance industry include the entry into new markets, access to new technologies, valuation trends, and reaction to regulatory changes. With growth strategies leading the charge, market expansion is often made possible through the acquisition of target companies that optimize product portfolios and customer bases, especially those that provide relatively easy yet quite valuable add-on opportunities, as organic growth does not come easily in the insurance space.

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The Digital Marketing Industry and M&A

The trillion dollar advertising space is a rapidly changing industry with most of the action happening on the digital marketing side. As the world’s digital advertising revenues increase, there is a global demand for more online content. Lead generation, advertising, search engine optimization, and affiliate partnerships are major drivers of income in the 21st century marketing industry. This demand drives up the value of content-related businesses and digital marketing agencies in an era where everyone is glued to their connected devices. All of this screen time has caused traditional advertisers (print, TV, outdoor, radio) to shift their largest spends to digital marketing tactics and mobile internet advertising, even outspending television ads.

Worldwide digital advertising spending is predicted to reach $517 billion by the end of the year 2023.

The robust growth, sheer size, and high fragmentation of the digital marketing sector has led to healthy mergers and acquisitions activity involving digital agencies. Everyone from traditional advertising agencies to private equity investors is seeking target companies that offer growth benefits.

The establishment of digital capabilities and relationships has become a major priority for traditional ad agencies and their large holding companies as they look to grow their digital revenue and expand their portfolios. As conventional media continues to be displaced by digital marketing, the percentage of media spend on digital marketing on behalf of traditional ad agencies will continue to grow.

Evolving Technologies

In the digital marketing industry, there is also growing popularity of technologies that offer individualized features and more in-depth experiences. Brands are being pushed to invest and acquire these types of technologies while post-sales marketing has become a more prominent element along the customer journey.

  • The use of chatbots and personalized messaging is enhancing customer experiences.
  • Audio queries made possible by smart devices and digital assistants are driving voice search.
  • Online video advertising is a quickly growing segment.
  • Artificial intelligence analytics are helping to better target marketing strategies based off of real-time data. This data leads to meaningful insights that are used to improve customer interaction, and optimize media budgets and marketing strategies.
  • Social search is changing e-commerce and vehicles for product reviews and recommendations.

This industry is sure to see more and more future technologies that have yet to be developed, continuing to drive rapid change and growth, and create opportunities for M&A.

Large User Platforms

Giant platform companies such as Google and Facebook provide free digital products and services but are still able to profit because they reach such massive audiences.

The larger the platform, the more consumer data is collected. The more a consumer uses the platform, the more information is gleaned about them. And with more data, the platform can better tailor the content consumers see, and keep them on the platform longer. This results in improved customer experiences and more advertising capacity, which means better understanding of consumers, heightened influence, and more revenue from targeted advertising.

Affiliate Partnerships

Affiliate partnerships use affiliate websites to promote products or services that belong to another company. The valuation of an affiliate website depends on the specific terms of the affiliate program. These factors include longevity, product category and seasonality, commission tiers, high caliber content, and the link portfolio. Websites that fulfill these attributes often have the better earnings, margins and lifecycle, which are attractive to investors. For valuation purposes, advertising agencies are similar to affiliate businesses because they are dependent upon content and end-user action to produce revenue.

These types of partnerships that monetize content also apply to offline businesses that need new and better ways to generate access to audiences. Investors also tend to be drawn to this segment based on existing relationships that can be used to an advantage.

Exit Opportunities

Some digital marketing agencies are being established with the goal of selling in mind. There are extremely low entry barriers when it comes to creating a digital marketing firm, but there are also limited benefits to growth. Some brands do not wish to work with a huge firm. And low employee tenure means lower retained corporate knowledge in an industry where talent retention is already incredibly challenging.

An agency with strong historical growth and projected growth of more than 20% can lead to strong multiples. The purchase of smaller agencies offers opportunities for growth for the large advertising agency groups and an easy way to cash out for the leadership of the smaller agencies.

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Please feel free to contact our M&A advisors at Benchmark International to discuss your next move. Our industry expertise and global connections are true game changers when it comes to selling or growing a company, and forming an exit plan.

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The Global Packaging Industry and M&A

Manufacturers in the global packaging industry produce items such as bags, films, air pillows, bubble cushioning, heavy plastics, aluminum foil, paperboard, and corrugated materials.

In a segment that is greatly influenced by transportation and logistics costs, strategic buyers look for options that offer attractive margin profiles, cost-savings manufacturing advantages, shareholder growth options, and deals that broaden industry presence and consolidate business lines. Private equity buyers are inclined to focus on niche opportunities that leverage unique and proprietary capabilities and offer strong returns.

In this particular sector, lenders tend to show willingness to finance deals among packaging companies, which boosts healthy valuations. This is because packaging manufacturers are able to generate strong cash flow and are not overly vulnerable to economic downturns.

Growth from E-commerce

As long as e-commerce continues to thrive and the world demands sustainable and cost-efficient packaging solutions, the demand for packaging products will persist, driving mergers and acquisitions activity in this highly fragmented industry.

Protective packaging solutions are naturally of significant interest to e-commerce companies, as is machinery that uses automation to improve packaging processes. There is a demand for packaging companies that can offer innovative and attractive packing solutions that are protective but lightweight and focused on reducing package footprint size.

 

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Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG)

The FMCG segment involves high-volume, low-cost products that move quickly off the shelves of stores, such as paper products, cosmetics, medicines, detergents, and plastic goods. Packaging is top priority in the FMCG market because of how it directly affects brand positioning, differentiation, and high visibility through the use of graphics and product information. It plays a major role in consumers’ purchase decisions in a very competitive environment.

FMCG packaging makes up a large share of the costs involved in product manufacturing. Companies must look to innovation in packaging to reduce operational costs.

Increasing populations, technological advancements, and a demand for eco-friendly packaging are all key drivers of growth in the FMCG sector. Food and beverage is the largest market for investment from packaging companies.

On the supply side, the FMCG packaging market is highly fragmented with fewer companies having a substantial share in the overall market, leading to fewer barriers to entry. Additionally, the challenges for growth in this sector include issues surrounding skilled labor, equipment and machinery.

Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals

Medical plastics are a major driver of high valuations in the packaging sector. The healthcare industry is subject to significant regulatory and technical requirements and there is a need for companies that can fulfill their specific and complex packaging needs, which include thermoforming and injection molding techniques. The injection-molding sector is especially fragmented and highly competitive with steadily growing revenues and opportunities for consolidation.

There is also a demand for smart packaging technologies that help to combat the counterfeiting of medicines.

Packaging companies that serve medical device and component companies tend to enjoy stronger customer relationships, steadier revenue, better pricing power, and higher valuations. M&A activity in this area is highly focused on technology and expansion of capabilities.

 

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Sustainable Solutions

Sustainability is an important factor in the packaging industry at every step of the value chain, as consumers and regulators apply pressure regarding environmental impacts of packaging applications. In addition to functionality and convenience, it is a key criterion in purchasing decisions. This demand for novel solutions and green technologies creates a noteworthy opportunity for industry players. 

Plastics are cost-efficient, convenient, and have useful characteristics in packaging, so their use remains in demand. However, there is a sweeping campaign to reduce the use of plastic in packaging materials.

Airless packaging systems are a growing market. They are designed to limit waste and contamination while improving product shelf life. These packaging products include bags, pouches, bottles, jars, and tubes.

As there is a growing need for packaging companies to lessen the environmental effects of their products, those that stay ahead of the curve by incorporating these solutions will benefit from substantial growth opportunities and will draw plenty of attention for M&A activity.

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If you feel the time has come to enter into a merger or acquisition, reach out to our specialists at Benchmark International to get the ball rolling. Our customized solutions, global buyer network, and proprietary methodologies have the power to execute deals that are designed to always exceed seller expectations. 

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M&A In The Global Medical Services Industry

Globalization of healthcare contributes to a continually developing global medical services industry that encompasses hospital, physician and clinical, nursing and continuing care facilities, home healthcare, surgical facilities, emergency services, laboratories and other providers.

Value-based Care

An industry that was once about volume-based care has strategically shifted to value-based care. Because this requires improvements in facility efficiencies and quality, it also calls for more specialized external service providers. One tactic that medical services companies are using to gain competitive advantage is to keep their core caregiver and third-party caregiver groups under the same roof. As medical services must now deliver on value-based care, there is an increased need for integration of care and management of financial constraints.

 

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Workforce Demand

As populations increase, especially aging populations, and chronic diseases remain prevalent, the demand for medical services increases, and so does the demand for specialized medical caregivers.

By the year 2030, it is estimated that the global demand for health workers will reach 80 million workers, while the supply of health workers is only expected to reach 65 million over the same period. This will result in a worldwide shortage of 15 million health workers. 

Regulatory Factors

When regulatory burdens on healthcare companies are reduced, technological advancement escalates, creating opportunities for medical technology companies including mobile and wireless providers. Also, advancements in surgical techniques result in less invasive treatments and shorter recovery times, altering the traditional hospital model. Additionally, third-party lab providers and research companies grow in demand along with the need for more complex clinical tests and services.

M&A Due Diligence

Mergers and acquisitions in the medical services industry require especially savvy due diligence in order to obtain a completely accurate assessment and valuation. Deals can be particularly complicated between hospitals and health systems.

As a seller, it can be extremely important to have sell-side due diligence conducted. Getting ahead in the process months in advance can be well worth the costs. When it comes to the medical services industry, billing and coding issues can trigger major delays in any M&A transaction.

Other benefits of sell-side due diligence include:

  • Enhanced credibility and positive reputation of the seller on the market
  • The increased possibility of higher bids
  • Adequate preparation for management and employees so that there is minimal disruption in workplace operations
  • The potential of a shorter due diligence cycle on the buyer’s side
  • A decrease in the chances of surprises that can derail a deal, which can increase the likelihood of the transaction being a successful one

Medical Services M&A Drivers

Among the key drivers of M&A activity in the global medical services industry, the top reasons include:

  • The goal of increased market share to broaden networks and patient access
  • Improved integration across the continuum of care
  • Keeping pace with increasing prevalence of consumerism, which includes more convenient, non-traditional care settings
  • Gaining access to capital for investment in staff, new technologies, medical equipment, and improved operations
  • A way to improve efficiencies and enhance patient satisfaction
  • Reaction to rising consolidation among insurance payers
  • A growing need for alternative payment models, which reimburse providers based on value rather than volume of services

 

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Traits of High-value Targets

In this sector, the attributes of high-value M&A transactions can vary greatly, however certain characteristics can be found to be consistent across most successful deals:

  • A defined operating model with strategic vision and revenue-growth and cost-reduction strategies
  • Transparency in communications regarding culture and organizational goals
  • Focused integration planning that aligns with the deal’s rationale

M&A in Diagnostics

Diagnostics present unique circumstances for M&A activity apart from the medical services industry. Clinical laboratories in the medical services industry vary in size, business model, areas of concentration, R&D capabilities, as well as in their relationships with providers and payers. With countless labs in operation, acquiring the right one can be challenging. Large public labs tend to focus on deal volume, while other buyers are interested in the laboratory testing market, and private equity leans towards companies with attractive cash flow yields. In many cases, because diagnostic manufacturers, life-science companies, and big pharma all need access to patient and pathology samples for research and development, labs are strategically acquired by non-laboratory healthcare companies.

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If you are looking for exit and growth strategies, Benchmark International offers unique ways to identify the perfect buyer, take your company to the next level, and create dream exits. We look forward to working with you.  

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Why You Shouldn’t Wait For The New Year To Sell Your Company

A new year always conjures up the feeling that it’s a clean slate, so that may seem like a good time to take your business to market. And, yes, timing is everything, but waiting for the new year could mean that you miss out on the opportunity to get the maximum value for your business.

Get Ahead of Economic Uncertainties

No one can say for sure what the state of the global economy will be next year. But we do know what it is NOW. These are certainties that we know, understand, and can work within. We know what M&A strategies can be advantageous today based on the level of:

  • Buyer demand
  • Bank generosity
  • Current valuations
  • Tax breaks
  • Interest rates
  • Retiring competitors
  • Inflation
  • Political unrest

It is not uncommon for business owners to want to postpone a sale with hopes that they can sell at a higher price in the future. This can be a dire mistake. 

 

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Waiting too long could mean that you end up trying to sell during a recession, a down cycle, or under other unfavorable circumstances that result in you not getting all that your company is truly worth. It can also mean that if you miss out on your ideal window of opportunity, you may have to wait five to seven years for such an opportunity to arise again.

Take Advantage of a Seller’s Market

What may be a seller’s market today, can just as easily become a buyer’s market tomorrow. If you decide to wait, you could end up losing your upper hand as a seller. There are millions of business owners that are approaching retirement age and if there is an influx of these sellers onto the market, it can result in increased competition and buyers will enjoy having their pick of the litter. That also means lower valuations for your company. You can easily get out in front of this scenario by not hesitating to start the process.

According to the Pew Research Center, 10,000 Baby Boomers will celebrate their 65th birthday every day through the year 2030.

Act Early for a Patient Process

Patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to selling a company. Ironically, getting into the sale process sooner rather than later will afford you the ability to be patient through the process. If you wait too long and end up in a situation where you are panicking to sell your company, buyers will sense your desperation and will try to low-ball you on a deal. By demonstrating to buyers that you have been carefully considering and planning for this, rather than appearing to just “want out” without an exit or succession plan, it will likely increase your sale price. 

 

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Test the Market

Maybe you are feeling too uncertain about selling now. Keep in mind that you can always test the market. Prepare your company for sale, put it out there, and see what kind of offers you get. You might find that there is interest in your company that you were not aware of, and eager buyers might come to the surface, surprising you with offers that are hard to turn down. In the case that the offers are lower than what you were hoping for, you can simply take the company of the market for the time being and wait for a better time.

Ready to Talk?

The process of selling a business can take several months. Even if you are simply considering a sale, reach out to one of our M&A advisors at Benchmark International to start the conversation. We can help you get a better understanding of the market timing, if you feel that you are ready to sell, and what exit strategy is right for you. We also understand that you have worked hard to build your business, and parting with it is going to be an emotional process. That is why we always work in the seller’s best interest, working relentlessly to arrange a deal that is the absolute very best for you and your family and with which you feel truly comfortable.

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The Aviation Industry and M&A

The transportation industry on a whole has seen major opportunities for investment thanks to a myriad of technological advancements such as self-driving cars, ride sharing and alternative fuels. As technology permeates all global industries, the aviation industry has its own unique circumstances, and must turn to acquisitions and market share to create competitive advantages in the 21st century.

Major areas of focus include aerospace, defense, supersonic travel, artificial intelligence, robotics, cybersecurity, surveillance, and communications. The idea of space exploration has become more privatized. It is not just about commercial astronauts anymore, but about making it possible for everyday people to engage in space travel. Also, urban on-demand air transportation is redefining the possibilities for how people commute to work. This technological advancement is proposed to use three-dimensional airspace to ease traffic on the ground, save commuters time and money, and provide a safer yet still relatively quiet travel option.

Aerospace and Defense (A&D)

As global A&D spending increases, so does the opportunity for M&A activity. In our digitized world, threat and risk mitigation continue to take on more importance, resulting in more mergers and acquisitions within IT, cybersecurity, and space companies.

Commercial aerospace firms are stretching their aftermarket capabilities to gain repair revenue over the lifespan of an aircraft fleet and benefit from improvements within the areas of electronics and avionics.

Private equity investors are also becoming more attracted to this sector, looking to sink capital into targets that have high growth prospects and high margins.   

 

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Aircraft Backlogs and the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Market

Commercial aircraft order backlogs also drive M&A activity in the middle market, as equipment manufacturers within the supply chain must respond to the demand, and are sitting on a tall stack of orders. Over the next 20 years, around 40,000 new aircrafts are slotted for production. Major airlines have a tendency to prefer larger suppliers, so consolidation to create more efficient and reliable MROs is a tactic that ensures the orders can stay on pace without major delays. As this consolidation occurs, it becomes more difficult for smaller, independent MROs to compete, causing them to team up with larger original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in order to meet demand and avert delays.  

Pilot Training

There is an existing and growing pilot shortage that presents a major challenge for all airlines around the world. According to Boeing, it is estimated that 800,000 new pilots will be needed over the next 20 years. More pilots are reaching the mandatory retirement age at the same time that an increasing number of people around the world are booking flights. Plus, military expansion means a reduction in the pool of military pilots that are typically sourced by commercial aviation. These factors all combine to create new opportunities in M&A in the global aviation industry through the need for pilot training and the creation of new, more efficient flight simulators, as well as the development of autonomous piloting technologies.

 

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A New Era of M&A

M&A activity is crucial to the many new types of developments in the global aviation industry. Private equity and venture capital are needed to keep the innovations coming, alongside the pursuance of new growth strategies and market retention by existing industry players. M&A in the aviation industry has become very much about bringing new services to new markets. This changes the way competitive companies must view each other, calling for more collaboration in order to drive innovation and create value.

It is strongly advised that anyone entering into the complex world of aviation M&A obtains an advisor that has the appropriate experience to conduct proper due diligence, navigate the intricacies of the industry, create the right connections, and be familiar with the industry-specific regulatory environments. 

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At Benchmark International, we’d love to start a conversation about how we can help you grow or sell your company. Schedule a chat with one of our M&A experts today. Our global network of buyers and our innovative processes make us recognized around the world for getting great deals done.  

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M&A In The Global Insurance Industry

Mergers and acquisitions in the global insurance industry carry their share of unique challenges. There is always the potential for increased regulation, and ever-changing technologies and infrastructures can make it expensive and difficult for companies to keep pace. When it comes to cross-border M&A, cultural integration is often overlooked. These factors make the world of M&A in the insurance sector complicated to navigate.

Key Drivers of M&A in the Insurance Industry

M&A activity in the global insurance sector becomes more dynamic as a result of several contributing factors and strategic objectives.

  • Companies acknowledge the need for economies of scale and seek to expand by moving into global markets.
  • Lower policy rates push industry players to consolidate to maintain profitability and find ways to remain competitive by uniting two synergistic companies and gain more value through scale efficiencies.
  • Stagnant domestic markets result in cross-border targets.
  • Organic growth cannot be relied upon to meet company goals.
  • Heightened interest comes from a broad range of backers, from hedge funds to international investors.
  • Low profitability results in low investment yields.
  • Insurers need ways to spend large cash reserves.
  • They need to integrate new technologies (such as mobile apps and big data) to revitalize flat business models, improve internal capabilities, reach customers, or gain market insights.

Due Diligence

As with all M&A transactions, meticulous due diligence in the insurance industry is critical to a successful deal. While many due diligence topics for an insurance company overlap with that of all types of M&A transactions (property, tax records, employee issues, etc.), the insurance industry is subject to some unique scrutiny, such as:

  • Regulatory issues (licensing, permitted practices, regulatory filings, and interactions with government agencies)
  • Assessment and adequacy of reserves
  • Structure of investment portfolio
  • Underwriting and claims administration
  • Market conduct and producers
  • Reinsurance collectability
  • Intercompany agreements
  • Data security
  • Compliance with privacy laws

Crafting of the purchase agreement in insurance M&A transactions is also an important part of the process. If done correctly, it will address both the unique nature of insurance companies and the regulatory environment in which they operate.

Insurance-Specific Indemnities

Indemnification provisions within insurance M&A agreements are similar to that of other industries, with exception of a few differences. An M&A transaction can call for unlimited indemnity protection for specific circumstances in which the buyer asks the seller to assume the risk. Common areas for specific indemnities include:

  • Policyholder claims for extra-contractual obligations or claims that exceed policy limits
  • Litigation specific to the insurance industry (i.e., class action policyholder lawsuits or regulatory actions for improper business conduct)

Cultural Integration in M&A

Global insurance executives have reported that overcoming cultural and organizational differences following a deal has been a significant challenge.

In order for cross-border M&A to be successful, leaders must look beyond financial motivations and consider how cultural integration can result in improved synergy and innovation. This can happen in several ways:

  • The acquirer can completely assimilate the culture of the target company.
  • The acquired company can maintain its own identity and independence.
  • The two can meld, creating an entirely new culture.

The route a company chooses to take depends on the size of the two companies, the post-deal organizational structure, and the advantages generated by different cultural traits.

When companies carefully take culture into account, they can greatly benefit from the positive outcomes and lower the risk of failure in M&A. A cultural assessment should be conducted alongside due diligence far before the deal nears completion. This assessment should study the geographic locations, management styles, work habits, and attitudes of both companies. Successfully uniting employees from diverse backgrounds calls for a customized process that should not be rushed and includes clear and honest communication.

Steps for Success

When insurance companies are considering M&A for financial growth, geographic expansion, and bolstered competitiveness, there are certain steps that leadership should take to find the right type of deal and ensure a positive outcome.

  • Assess the future of the industry, the trajectory of the business, and where the two align.
  • Plan for different scenarios that could trigger economic changes in the next one to two years.
  • Craft an M&A strategy that aligns with ownership’s goals.
  • Choose target companies consistent with leadership’s overall strategy and long-term goals. What seems like a good idea today may not make sense for five to ten years down the road.
  • Remain cognizant of the changing tax and regulatory environments.
  • Evaluate in-house corporate development and overall integration abilities.

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If you are ready to grow your company, sell your company, find a new investment opportunity, or plan your exit strategy for retirement, give us a call at Benchmark International. Our esteemed M&A advisors will craft strategies that deliver outstanding results for your plans for the future. 

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M&A And The Chemical And Plastics Manufacturing Industry

The chemical manufacturing industry converts raw materials such as gasses and oils into chemicals such as ethylene, propylene, methanol, benzene, chlorine, and paraxylene. These chemicals are feedstocks for value chains that produce a wide array of intermediates, plastics, and performance materials that are used to create more than 70,000 registered productsaround the world. It is an extremely diverse and complicated industry. Because many of the industry’s products are intermediates, the customers of chemical companies are often other chemical companies.

M&A Strategies

Among the many factors that influence multi-billion dollar investment decisions include energy market trends, global economic growth, and regional trade dynamics. Investors seek sustainable competitive advantages regarding the costs of energy and feedstock, technology and scale, proximity to markets, and degree of integration.

Mergers and acquisitions have been a long-time tactic used among chemical companiesto create growth, change strategic course, and consolidate segments. In an industry that has seen major expansion, certain factors can complicate M&A. This includes the substantial size of some transactions and merger-of-equals deals that are more complex to carry out.

Key drivers of M&A in the chemical manufacturing industry include:

  • The pace of organic sales growthin sub-segments
  • Consolidation driven by a need for innovation and fewer opportunities to differentiate from competitors in high-value and specialty-chemical areas
  • The state of capital-markets returns and a campaign for higher valuations
  • An abundance of capital and private equity interest and access to low-cost finance

Digitization & Optimization

Technology continues to transform all industries in the modern world, and the chemical manufacturing industry is no different. Data management through advanced analytics is enabling plant optimization across sites, improved supply chains, and infrastructure synergies. Digital solutions reduce downtime and costs as a result of maintenance and repairs. Sensors monitor plant and warehousing conditions, improving logistics. Also, a vast amount of field operator workload can be transferred to automation and robotics, allocating people resources elsewhere in the business and creating more opportunities for up-skilling. Implementation of these technologies results in revenue improvements.

The Circular Economy of Plastic Waste Recycling

Plastics production accounts for more than one third of the chemical industry’s manufacturing activities. But only a small percentage of these plastics are being recycled, resulting in resources that are lost forever into landfills. Global plastics waste volumes are expected to reach 460 million tons per year by 2030. Public outcry for sustainability is rising and raw material supplies are growing tighter, forcing the chemical industry to adapt on this issue. New plastic recycling methods offer new opportunities for value-creating growth for petrochemicals companies. Instead of focusing on the problem that plastic waste creates, companies are starting to recognize the billion-dollar profit pool it represents through new types of businesses, resulting in an entirely new landscape for M&A activity.

Activist Investors

Additionally, activist investors are playing a larger part in the chemicals sector. Activist investors attempt to create change within a company by purchasing a large number of shares or board seats. These players are emerging influencers of M&A activity and they have an ever-increasing role in the chemical industry through restructuring initiatives. This creates new challenges for industry executives because long-term strategic planning is not a typical priority of activist investors. Although activist investors are capable of delivering solutions that add value, they usually are more interested in shorter-term, higher valuations and results. This often results in cost-cutting measures, shareholder buybacks, and the splitting off of company divisions. 

Successful Chemical Industry M&A

Deals that employ proven M&A best practices will yield higher total returns to shareholders. Capturing the full value potential of a deal requires specific industry knowledge and expertise. To craft a successful deal in the chemical sector, sellers should enlist the advice and methodologies of dedicated M&A experts such as those at Benchmark International. They should also:

  • Monitor the field to identify potential opportunities
  • Review their portfolios to ensure current assets fit their core business
  • Look for gaps that may need to be filled for fast action when opportunities arise
  • Prepare non-core businesses in order to maximize value from a deal

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M&A In The Global Education Industry

Around the world, the global education industry remains shaped by population growth and access to education, and driven by new technologies and service offerings.

  • Solutions for professional education, teacher development, improved online and adaptive learning, and language training (especially English) are always in demand.
  • Online learning technology and the need for corporate workforce training drives increases in corporate spending on outsourced training programs.
  • Smartphone-only Internet users are reshaping learning models.
  • Enrollment in pre-primary education continues to rise as it has proven to show positive long-term results.
  • In primary and secondary education, technology investments directly impact school expenditures.
  • Higher education is being forced to adapt in the wake of changes to jobs, skills and increasing student debt.
  • Learning Management Systems are shifting the teaching focus away from content and onto learners.
  • Newer offerings include cloud-based student information systems, digital tools and learning platforms, and data reporting and analytics.

The global education market is expected to be valued at $10 trillion USD by the
year 2030.

 

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M&A Activity

In today’s digitized society, as education becomes more globalized, it presents newforms of private, for-profit involvement. In the global education industry, less than three percent of overall education expenditure is spent on technology. This is expected to increase in the future, yet at an alarmingly slow rate, giving investors a favorable position to get in on
the market.

Mergers and acquisitions opportunities are heavily influenced by the possibilities created by new innovations in digital education, instruction, and credentialing. The global education sector’s biggest strategic performers are diverse companies that continue a shift towards digital services and away from print. Target companies within the education landscape that are in drawing investment include those that provide adaptive learning solutions and assessment products, such as software that facilitates testing and scoring. Other areas that appeal to buyers include education-market-focused infrastructure software and English language learning solutions.

Education Infrastructure Software

Modern education-focused infrastructure software has the power to transform learning environments for students and teachers both inside and outside the classroom by balancing technology across all locations. The approach is comprised of cloud computing, enhanced privacy and security, connectivity, storage, and manageability. Additionally, virtual infrastructure not only simplifies troubleshooting, but it can reduce costs for institutions by reducing overhead through the reduced impacts of having to frequently replace hardware. With support of more devices, teachers can better tailor learning experiences to students learning needs, and a more collaborative learning environment can be created.    

Global English Language Learning Market

The global English language learning market is expected to exceed $22 billion USD by the end of 2025. These programs are in growing demand due to globalization, urbanization, and an appetite for improved education and job opportunities. The escalating numbers for student enrollment in graduate schools in English-speaking countries is deemed to be a primary contributing factor to growth in this market. In higher education, universities in the United States, the United Kingdom,  Australia, and Canada require applicants to pass language tests such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and International English Language Testing System (IELTS). This drives students to enroll in English language training programs, leading to notable demand for them in countries (such as an India and China) where the number of graduates relocating to English-speaking countries for advanced studies continues to grow at a significant rate.

The global market for digital English language learning is comprised of both regional and international manufacturers. As the international companies expand their reach, improve quality, and lower prices, the regional firms struggle to compete. Such an intensely competitive market for innovation and service extensions increases the number of M&A transactions.

 

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An Industry Continuing to Evolve

Innovation in education requires capital and government funding is limited even in the wealthiest, most developed countries. Private equity and M&A can strategically create and grow companies of scale in the education sector. Larger size means more attractive acquisition opportunities, more prevalence, and more potential for transformation in the industry and its subsectors.

Advancements that are impacting and will continue to impact this industry include:

  • Artificial Intelligence, virtual reality, and unified data solutions
  • Online education
  • Robotics
  • Specialized curriculum start-up companies
  • Improved curriculum storage and peer-to-peer sharing platforms
  • International schools
  • Digital classrooms
  • Chat bots and voice enabled hardware
  • English language training
  • Enhanced admissions management and student retention
  • Global school networks
  • Improved vocational training
  • Alternate university models
  • Online program managers
  • Job training boot camps
  • Primary education mobile apps
  • Increasing availability and free access to academic publishing resources
  • STEM and coding
  • Gaming and simulation

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The Engineering Services Industry and M&A

The engineering services sector is made up of Engineering Services Outsourcing (ESO) firms or Engineering Service Providers (ESPs) that specialize in planning, design, and technical work at each stage of a product lifecycle. ESO is commonly used by industries such as construction, automotive, telecom, energy, transportation, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing. Among the services offered by ESO that are consistently in high demand are structural, architectural, civil, and electrical engineering.

Industry Growth Drivers

Growth in the engineering services industry is stimulated by circumstances that include:

  • Increasing technical complexities regarding product development and manufacturing
  • A need to reduce costs
  • Shorter product lifecycles
  • Demand for innovation
  • Increasing tie-ups between ESPs and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)

The Demand for ESO

As clients demand more complex solutions and shorter product lifecycles, there is a growing need for the use of subcontractors through ESO. Shorter duration solutions result in renewed managed service contracts, helping ESO businesses to do well. Additionally, some engineering companies opt to use ESO as an extension of their own capabilities.

Other reasons that companies choose to use ESO include:

  • Access to more cutting-edge technologies and more complex engineering services
  • The ability to focus time and resources on other critical tasks such as marketing
  • Need for less office space and lower office equipment costs
  • Faster project turnaround that can result in improved client satisfaction
  • Access to services on an as-needed basis
  • Around the clock support services

ESO demand is also affected by the specific needs of individual industry sectors.

  • ESO in consumer electronics is driven by consumer demand for enhanced mobility and entertainment, and the better exchange of information between devices for data and media.
  • Both onshore and offshore ESO is used in the automotive segment in developing countries due to their high demand for passenger vehicles and economical cars. Demands in developed countries include car connectivity, advanced driver assistance, Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communication.
  • Tech companies, OEMs and semiconductor companies look to ESO for assistance in developing next-generation smart devices. These businesses also employ ESO to stay competitive by focusing on product localization needs, new features, and industry best practices.
  • The telecom industry accounts for a major share of ESO revenue as global telecom companies continue to expand their market presence around the world.

Adapting to the Tech Era

In today’s digital world, engineering services companies must adapt their business models to focus on emerging technologies and their integration with manufacturing and engineering services. This adaptation is crucial to realize the full potential of these growth opportunities. These technologies include data, sensors, the Internet of Things, embedded electronics, Machine-to-Machine adoption, and other digital transformative solutions.

The Need for M&A

As delivery methods for engineering services continue to change, engineering firms must either look to acquire new technologies, or diversify into higher value advisory services and focus on forming strong client relationships. Mergers and acquisitions are a resourceful path to establishing these services in a highly competitive market.

M&A strategies are also vital to creating growth and uncovering new strategic pathways. Larger companies look to acquire smaller companies in order to remain relevant, close talent gaps, expand to new regions, and strengthen their portfolio of offerings. This increased consolidation results in the prevalence of more one-stop service providers.

Because larger engineering services firms have more developed infrastructure and economies of scale, they are able to easily outbid smaller firms. This makes it problematic for the smaller firms that are trying to keep up and stay profitable. As a result of such challenges, many small engineering services companies are forced to rethink their options and consider partnership with larger firms through acquisitions.

M&A as a Succession Solution

Additionally, private engineering services companies may face succession issues because they typically have one or two founders who eventually plan to retire. When these particular business owners choose to exit the company, in many cases the next generation either cannot afford to buy out its departing leaders or is unwilling to do so. In these situations, M&A transactions are an ideal way for middle-market leadership to solve succession-planning issues, form a strong exit strategy, and set up the future trajectory for the company.  

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M&A And The Machinery And Equipment Manufacturing Industry

The modern manufacturing industry on a whole is continually undergoing somewhat of a seismic shift in operations thanks to rapidly changing technologies, globalization, rising wages, and demands for higher quality standards, shorter timelines, and more customization. These factors reshape strategic imperatives and decision making, largely in part to emerging disruptive technologies in the machinery and equipment manufacturing industries.

Technology Driving M&A

As is the case with most industries in the 21stcentury, the availability of new technologies is driving major opportunities for mergers and acquisitions in the industrial-equipment manufacturing sector. Some of these game-changing technologies include:

  • Data CentersAs the use of data centers becomes more and more prevalent in the machinery and equipment manufacturing industry, there is an increasing demand for mass power generation and back-up power generating systems. Because data centers consume a tremendous amount of energy, there is also a need for growth within the market of energy-efficient industrial solutions that have the capability to reduce operational costs. The data center construction market is forecasted to reach $45 billion by 2023.
  • Sensors and Control Systems: Wireless sensor networks offer a cost-effective way for data center operators to implement system changes that reduce energy consumption. Sensors detect and log specific operating conditions such as temperature, pressure, torque, load, and lighting. Control systems ensure proper workflow and identify potential problems and hazards. The addition of these technologies expedites digital strategies and creates a solid platform for connected solutions in safety and maintenance. By the year 2022, the sensor market is expected reach $27.4 billion and the control systems market is projected to reach $50 billion.
  • High-performance Computing (HPC): HPC is the practice of aggregating computing power in a manner that enables performance that is far beyond what is capable of typical desktop computers. It uses parallel processing to run advanced applications quickly and efficiently. Companies in the equipment-manufacturing sector are using HPC throughout the entire product lifecycle.
  • Automation: Industrial companies are increasingly using automation and predictive analytics to overhaul processes, improve capabilities and rectify previous operational inefficiencies. Specifically, automation is playing a major role in the use of industrial machinery in the food and beverage sector, driving M&A transactions. The global factory automation market is expected to reach $368.4 million by 2025.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT): The implementation of all of these technological advancements has led to a need for IoT networks that connect them across operational platforms. These networks enable machinery and equipment to communicate for the purpose of recording data, merging systems, and rooting out costly disruptions. The access to such knowledge gives companies the power to improve their manufacturing processes and the entire supply chain. The global industrial IoT market is expected to reach $933.6 billion by 2025.

Driving Acquisitions and Competition

Because it is simply easier for large industrial companies to buy smaller niche companies that offer specialized technological capabilities rather than attempting to develop them in-house, acquisitions in this sector are a favorable tactic. Additionally, the ability of a buyer to leverage new technology within its own operations and distribution channels gives strategic acquirers far better synergistic potential. Even in light of this fact, there remains growing interest on behalf on private equity investors, creating a competitive M&A environment in the machinery and equipment industry.

Target Company Attributes

Regarding M&A activity in the global machinery and equipment manufacturing industry, target companies that possess the following characteristics typically garner higher multiples:

  • Predictable revenue stream
    • Stable contracts with well-capitalized customers
    • Long-term customer relationships
    • Demonstrated sales diversification strategies
    • Business lines that can withstand cycles and recessions
  • Opportunities for growth
    • New end-markets and geographical locations
    • Cross-selling to existing customers
    • Bolt-on acquisitions
  • Growth-supporting infrastructure
    • Ability to maintain projected revenues
    • Long-term control over facilities
    • Proper maintenance of equipment
  • Technical product differentiation
  • Strong and stable management
    • Depth and continuity
    • Cohesive culture
  • Technology investments
    • Strong finance management
    • Post-enterprise resource implementation
    • Dependable, quality data

It is strongly advised that business owners who are seeking M&A strategies partner with an experienced M&A advisory firm that understands the intricacies of the industry and has the kind of global connections and prowess that maximizes value.    

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Provision of Healthcare To Patients, and M&A

The provision of healthcare to patients is the delivery of interventions within an organizational or home setting, including medical services, devices, health insurance, pharmaceuticals, and facilities.

Healthcare Around the World

The provision of public healthcare was not a priority until the last 100 years. Prior to World War I, public healthcare expenditure on healthcare was less than 1% of all national incomes worldwide. Today, the countries with the highest levels of public healthcare spending commit nearly 10% of their national revenue to it.

Wealthier nations spend more per person on healthcare and, not surprisingly, they have longer rates of life expectancy.

In most countries, government is heavily involved in healthcare markets. And in most wealthy countries, such as in Europe and Canada, the government runs the healthcare system. Universal healthcare is achieved in these nations through:

  • Government tax-funded systems
  • Privately run but government funded systems
  • Private insurance but with regulation and subsidies to ensure universal coverage and non-discrimination based on pre-existing conditions

The United States is the only industrialized nation with no universal healthcare option, where big pharmaceutical companies and insurance giants wield heavy influence on the industry.

Many developing countries make an effort to provide universal healthcare but face challenges associate with poverty, corruption, and inequality. There is also reliance on foreign aid.

A major difference between government-funded and market-based healthcare lies in the realm of medical innovation and advancement in new, effective treatments. Under government-financed systems, price and budgetary limits and other restrictions reduce investment in medical research.

Healthcare provision is extremely complex and is also subject to cultural, political, social, and economic conditions. This makes the sector very different from other business markets that operate based on supply and demand, especially when governments ensure that healthcare provisions are distributed in adherence with certain policies.

 

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A New Era in Healthcare Provision

Healthcare spending makes up a growing share of the world economy. As the 21stcentury progresses, the provision of healthcare to patients is undergoing changes to the overall landscape. People are living longer and spending more on healthcare. Evolving technologies are changing every aspect of healthcare. Chronic diseases remain a burden on healthcare systems. And more integration is needed for the continued improvement of the provision of healthcare to patients.

New technologies, such as fitness monitors for example, are empowering people to take more control over their own health. There is an opportunity to further help patients play a larger role in symptom disease management and their overall health through continued innovation in the healthcare sector.

There is a massive opportunity to improve patient outcomes through the engagement between clinicians and patients. Healthcare facilities are being reimagined so that they are designed around patient experiences rather than the need of the providers. They are also being digitally equipped with interfaces that streamline admission processes and recordkeeping, improve the continuity of care, and ultimately provide better patient care. New digital frameworks are allowing facilities to be updated rather than entirely rebuilt when technology undergoes drastic changes.

Integrated care is a growing focus in the healthcare provisions sector. How communities work with facilities is being reexamined to formulate the right platforms for patients and alleviate the demand for inpatient beds.

Healthcare Provision and M&A

Mergers and acquisitions in healthcare tend to always be a topic of debate, as they can have a serious impact on the patient experience. And as M&A healthcare deals become more frequent, concerns over monopolies arise. However, structure changes can be quite vital for some companies to survive in an ever-evolving industry. Additionally, M&A can actually help patients have better access to quality care and improve costs.

  • According to the American Hospital Association, certain mergers can boost access to capital and other resources, lowering costs for patients.
  • When small independent facilities are acquired by larger organizations, they can remain open and patients do not lose access to care.
  • Under a merger, it is common to streamline protocols, which can lead to enhancements and new standards in quality care. This can also reduce the instances of patients undergoing surgical procedures at a facility with limited experience in that area.

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M&A In The Global Mining Sector

The Role of Mining in the World

The global mining sector employs millions of people worldwide and its role in the global economy continues to significantly evolve. Standard functions in the mining industry include production of metals, and metals investing and trading. Additionally, there is a strong correlation between the global mining industry and other industries. For example, elements such as copper, nickel, and aluminum are core components used in the construction, aviation, automobile and other industries. In areas where mining is more concentrated, the industry plays a more important role in local economies.

According to the International Council on Mining and Metals, at least 70 countries are extremely dependent on the mining industry, and most low-income countries rely on it to survive. The same study shows that in many low-middle income countries, mining accounts for as much as 60-90% of total foreign direct investment.

Increased populations and urbanization drive the demand for growth in mining activities, as there is more demand for cars, buildings, and consumer products.

 

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M&A Challenges and Considerations

Mergers and acquisitions can be intense in the global mining industry. They are heavily influenced by timing, fluctuating commodity prices, supply uncertainties, and come with many variables depending on transaction size, volatile markets, and the geo-location of the mine. There are certain considerations that are unique to the industry:

  • Mining projects can have limited lifecycles depending on the availability of deposits.
  • Mines cannot be relocated to areas that may be more beneficial economically or politically.
  • Because there are great technological and geological constraints, mining companies are not able to adjust production to increase revenue.
  • Funding is less readily available, access to bank financing is limited, and investors tend to be more cautious and selective.
  • Countries may have greater government regulations, and indigenous mining agreements designed to mitigate negative effects and to share the benefits from commercial mining activity.
  • In some parts of the world, there are human rights concerns, increased policing for corruption, and environmental impacts.
  • Once the ore is extracted, mine closure procedures can take several years, in turn, expending money and labor for activities that are not yielding any profits during that time frame.

Gold Mining Sector 

The gold mining industry is known for placing a high premium on growth. As of 2019, analysts reported that the leaders of gold mining companies say that they find mergers and acquisitions to be an easier path to growth than exploring for new untapped deposits underground. Modern M&A deals in the business of gold mining now focus more on capital efficiency and operational excellence, with heavy emphasis on evaluation of the management team.

Copper Mining Sector 

Copper is an essential metal needed by industrial economies. Globally, the copper mining industry is one of the leading metal mining markets. The continued innovations in battery technology continue to attract investment into metals such as copper, which plays a critical component in the function of batteries.

Coal Mining Sector

Coal has been widely used to provide power since the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s. In the 21stcentury, coal mining faces new challenges alongside the pursuit and popularity of renewable energy sources. At the same time, innovation in the coal mining industry remains alive. New, state-of-the-art technologies are being developed. Sophisticated robotic mining machinery and computerized systems are being used to streamline mining and boost production to unprecedented levels. And industry leaders are looking into new uses for coal beyond its long-standing role in the energy sector. An example is the development of carbon fiber, currently used in the aerospace field, and potentially used in prosthetics, electrodes, 3D printers, and more.

 

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Shared Buyer and Seller Risk

In the mining sector, both buyers and sellers alike face risks of deal failure, but are more likely to see success if a strategic plan is followed. Two of the most important factors are pricing efficiency and post-sale integration. Both buyers and sellers tend to be more cautious in this industry.

  • Sellers should expect buyers to be on the lookout for the risk overpaying for your company, not being able to integrate the company as efficiently as possible, and dealing with issues such as uninsured legacy liabilities. Buyers may become interested in underperforming assets because they have more experience and access to financing that the existing owner, as well as better government relationships, a different risk profile, and the option of consolidation with existing mines or facilities.
  • Sellers risk facing purchase price disputes and post-deal issues with warranty and indemnity claims. Plus, fluctuating markets, especially in mineral-rich regions such as Africa, can make valuation difficult.

If proper precautions are taken to understand and avoid these issues, overpayment or post-close surprises can be averted. Other benefits that come with proper preparation include improved sale and purchase agreements, smoother integration, and more efficient corporate governance. Enlisting experienced M&A advisors as early on in the process as possible can aid in significant mitigation of transactional risks.

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The Information Services Industry and M&A

The global information services (IS) industry employs integrated methods to gather, process, communicate and store different types of information for the purpose of improving efficiencies for society and organizations. IS data—which typically covers people, software, hardware and procedures—is used for study, analysis and better decision-making processes. 

The IS landscape is comprised of companies that vary in size, including:

  • Global multi-billion-dollar firms that cover several sectors
  • Firms with hundreds of million of dollars in revenues and more concentrated areas of focus
  • Smaller firms that focus on niche markets and specific geographic regions

M&A in the IS Industry

Many large IS companies use regular acquisitions to execute business strategies such as product enhancement, geographic expansion, keeping pace with changing marketplaces, and expansion into adjacent markets. Acquisitions in this sector can also serve as an alternative path to product development, allowing companies to purchase capabilities and content rather than create it themselves. IS companies typically look to acquire content that fits well within their existing offerings.

Synergy and Value

Value through M&A in this industry comes in the form of clear synergies and improved distribution capabilities. This is partially due to the fact that IS content can be used several times at no added cost. After a one-time integration of content and capabilities between the two companies, there is much versatility in how the content can be used. Synergies are especially important to M&A deals when they are part of a business owner’s exit strategy in order to maximize the value of the transaction and fulfill the business owner’s personal objectives and vision for the company.

Consolidation planning is key to company valuations. IS companies do not typically view acquisition targets as stand-alone enterprises, but rather as opportunities to consolidate acquired content into existing platforms, therefore gaining positive revenue, improved cost synergy, and reduced technology costs.IS transactions can happen at a higher price if earnings and product synergies can be pinpointed and their profitability is clearly identified.  

Active IS Market Segments

In the IS industry, mergers and acquisitions activity tends to occur most in the following segments:

  • Business Intelligence
  • Financial Markets Information
  • Legal, Tax & Regulatory Information
  • Credit & Risk Management Information
  • Marketing Information

Business Intelligence IS

The Business Intelligence segment of IS—defined as information on industries, products and services that help companies identify market opportunities, respond to competition, and plan new products—is a highly active area for M&A. These companies use acquisitions to increase their existing coverage and expand into adjacent markets.

Financial Markets IS

In the segment of Financial Market Information, acquisitions frequently focus on adding content and capabilities to their distribution platforms to serve large portions of rapidly changing financial markets. New data is always in demand and new types of analyses are needed. Companies seek innovation, new customers, and stronger financial market data versus that of their competition.

Legal, Tax & Regulatory IS

The area of Legal, Tax & Regulatory Information is subject to ever-changing laws and regulations around the world. Also, IS companies face added regulations with the expansion of cross-border trade. To adapt to the need for product changes, these firms turn to acquisitions to expand content and capabilities.

Credit & Risk Management IS

In this particular IS segment, it is most common to see specialized firms being active in M&A transactions, with their primary strategy being to obtain more individual credit content. Also, as new entrants emerge in this space, the major credit ratings agencies see buying them as a way to strengthen their existing credit rating models.

Marketing IS

Marketing IS companies provide market research, audience management and other general marketing services. Companies in this diverse area use acquisitions for market consolidation, increased synergies, and the expanded mix of tools and information.

The Importance of Expert Guidance

As with any industry, it is recommended that business owners within the IS space engage the expertise of reputable M&A advisors to execute a deal in a sector that is subject to fast growth and high margins. These deals involve high levels of complexity and require the perspectives and resources of a partner that is committed to serving the best interests of the seller.

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M&A In The Ride Services And Autonomous Vehicle Industries

Two of the most transformative factors in the world of automotive and technological development have been the advent of ride-hailing platforms and autonomous vehicles. They each create various mergers and acquisitions opportunities both individually and in concert with each other in various capacities on a global scale.

Ride Service Companies

Ride services—also known as ride hailing and ride sharing—will continue to create opportunities for M&A in decades to come as their popularity around the world continues to increase. Uber, DiDi Chuxing, Gett, Grab, and Lyft are some of the leading firms in the market. As more companies emerge, the market becomes more and more fragmented. The right M&A transactions can help companies increase market share and improve service quality.

It can be relatively inexpensive to start up a ride-hailing company. After all, they depend on contract labor that does not rely on special skills or loyalty, and are powered by free mobile apps that easily bring their service to the public’s fingertips. While this makes it easy for more smaller firms to enter the space, it also creates ripe opportunity for M&A activity in an incredibly competitive industry that has been predicted to one day be dominated by only a couple of major players.

The ride hailing sector is not unlike other transportation industries, as it is subject to strict laws and regulations that can make M&A challenging, meaning that deals in this space require added due diligence.

 

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Autonomous Vehicles

A strong investment climate lies in the sector of autonomous or self-driving vehicles. Traditional auto manufacturers are investing billions of dollars and stepping up efforts to try to catch up with advancements already pioneered by the big tech companies. It is both faster and easier to acquire existing technologies than to try to reinvent the self-driving wheel. While they retain the advantage of being capable of the mass production of vehicles, it is expansion of their capabilities that is a major driver of M&A.

Companies at every level of involvement in the auto industry need to adapt their strategies, from manufacturers to suppliers to retailers. M&A is a necessary strategy for all existing industry players to maintain any foothold as newer digital companies transform the space. This includes rethinking business models and emphasizing innovation to establish themselves as a leader in the future.

Autonomous vehicles also present the possibility of major ramifications for other industries.

  • Law enforcement: With self-driving cars programmed to obey traffic laws, fewer police resources may be needed on roads and less local revenue could be earned from citations.
  • Insurance: With fewer accidents come fewer insurance claims, reducing the cost of insurance premiums.
  • Healthcare: Ideally, fewer traffic accidents can reduce reliance on emergency services.
  • Air & rail: Using autonomous vehicles for long-distance travel can mean fewer passengers on airplanes and trains.
  • Advertising: Withdrivers turned into passengers, their attention can be shifted from audio to visual, and advertising could be targeted by location.

Many companies around the world have demonstrated enthusiasm over the prospect of disrupting public transportation as we know it, and have been eager to invest in companies that are focused on bringing autonomous vehicles into this realm. This includes robotic taxis, driverless shuttles, electric car ride services, and taxis that are not equipped with steering wheels or pedals.

Countries leading the way in the development of autonomous driving technology include Norway, Singapore, the United States, Germany and Israel. 

Many challenges exist before the proliferation of autonomous vehicles on roads everywhere is a real possibility. While careful planning and programming goes into the technology that makes these vehicles both operational and safe, there are unexpected scenarios that are not easy to predict or take into account. These situations include other drivers’ errors such as going the wrong direction or making illegal maneuvers that can confuse the technology that a self-driving car relies upon. Essentially, the radar and high-resolution cameras in autonomous vehicles are able to detect and identify objects (such as a bicycle or pedestrian), but it cannot predict what those objects might do next.

These types of uncertainties, along with the strict regulatory environments surrounding self-driving vehicles, can also make the M&A market in this sector more complicated to navigate. It is prudent to consult with M&A experts regarding the opportunities in this area.

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M&A In The Hotel, Lodging & Hospitality Industry

Hotel and hospitality brands have an insatiable appetite for rapid growth and there is an endless ongoing battle for global share. Because the industry is highly fragmented and brand driven (the top hotel brands only account for a third of rooms worldwide), mergers and acquisitions are always on the table as a key growth strategy. Since 1985, there have been more than 13,800 deals in the hotel and lodging industry, valued at $809 billion.

Studies have shown that, on average, lodging M&A is unique versus those in other industries because both the target and acquirer are better off following a merger.

Hotel M&A Value Drivers

There are several value drivers when it comes to hotel brand M&A.

  • Strategic value drivers include more customer offerings, the creation of new markets, and further reach into existing markets.
  • Operational value drivers include factors such as expanded loyalty programs, consolidated corporate teams, and improved technologies and reservation systems.
  • Additional key value drivers of a hotel brand include the integrity of its global trademark portfolio, and the value of both existing and potential management/franchise agreements and real estate portfolios.

 

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Clearing Hurdles in Hospitality M&A

It is not uncommon for various issues to arise during M&A transactions between hospitality companies. However, taking the proper steps can alleviate these concerns.

Clarify intellectual property.

Portfolio expansion through the acquisition of additional brands is a major reason for many M&A transactions within the hotel sector. In these cases, the target company's ownership of its intellectual property is very important to buyers, so it is just important to sellers. This is where third-party ownership claims can arise as an issue in a transaction. If a hotel brand shares valuable restaurants or other brands with a third party, and there is any chance that the third party could claim ownership of any interest in the brand, it can significantly devalue the brand and the target company. Ownership agreements must be adequately and clearly documented before entering into an M&A transaction. It is going to be crucial to the accurate valuation of the company.

Protect your data. 

Technology is integral to every step of the hotel booking process, which is why, as a seller, you can expect buyers in M&A transactions to heed the risks and liabilities surrounding the target company's data protection and cybersecurity practices, and its compliance with governmental regulations. There are web and mobile bookings, check-ins, complicated reservation systems, and even customer review websites to consider. Due diligence in regard to detailed data protection and cybersecurity at length is imperative. In order for a target company to maximize its value, management should thoroughly review its current compliance with existing regulations and take all precautions to ensure best practices are in place to minimize exposure to potential data breaches.

 

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Minimize withdrawal liability. 

Large hoteliers and hospitality companies typically have unionized employees covered by collective bargaining agreements that require contributions to one or more multi-employer plans. Withdrawal liability can occur when an employer has a significant reduction in union workforce, a complete union workforce reduction, or a withdrawal of all employees from a pension plan as a result ofthe event of a change in management or a sale of a hotel. Labor laws vary by country, but it should still be noted that there could be issues with determining whether the hotel owner or manager is the employer by legal definitions in that reason (for example, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 [ERISA], in the United States). Multiemployer plans have the ability to disagree with who is considered the employer, and assess withdrawal liability on the party it determines is the employer. To mitigate the risk of withdrawal liability, all parties should consider who is the employer for labor law purposes, and who bears the liability under the management agreement.

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Working with an experienced M&A advisor is a game-changer in minimizing risk and closing a successful deal. We look forward to hearing from you about your interest in M&A as a seller of a company in any industry. Our global M&A experts are waiting for your call.

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M&A And The Electronics Manufacturing Industry

The electronics industry manufactures electronic equipment used within industrial electronics such as semiconductors, as well as consumer electronics such as televisions and smartphones.Companies in this sector design, develop, manufacture, assemble, and service equipment and components.

By the year 2024, the global consumer electronics market is expected to reach
$1.78 trillion.

Growth within the electronics manufacturing industry is driven by the following factors:

  • The demand from emerging market economies
  • Investment in foreign production of electronics, which results in new factories and factory expansions
  • Increased consumer spending
  • Increased competition that drives down production costs and expands the availability of affordable electronics products
  • Development of new technologies

The Semiconductor Segment

The semiconductor industry creates products such as memory chips, microprocessors, integrated circuits, and specialized processorsfor a wide variety of uses in electronics and computers. Primarily, large companies dominate this particular industry segment, but smaller, niche players are carving their place in the market.

The semiconductor industry is highly influenced by new technologies and global economic cycles. When product prices are high, companies produce more of them. This saturates the market and prices drop. As a result, some companies choose to produce less, gradually driving prices back up. The industry also requires a great deal of capital, and research and development, and is subject to long lead times from concept to production.

Because there is much reliance on economic environments—plus there is the high degree of risk due to cost of R&D—smaller companies and startups tend to prefer to be acquired by a larger semiconductor company as a more realistic strategy to create steady future growth.

Next Wave Tech

Over the next couple of decades, printed, flexible and stretchable electronics will continue to represent a massive opportunity in the future of tech, as well as M&A activity. These electronic innovations include:

  • E-textiles, smart clothing, and wearable electronics
  • Flexible displays and screens
  • High-performance, low-power electronics
  • Wearable and mobile health monitoring tools
  • Flexible, foldable, roll-able batteries and photovoltaic technologies
  • Miniaturized components

Automotive Electronics Evolution

As software and electronics play an increasingly essential role in vehicles, the communication technology giants have been aggressively investing in the automotive industry. At the same time, traditional auto manufacturers are actively seeking to partner with technology companies in order to be more productive at digitizing and innovating their offerings. These market dynamics and adaptive strategies are key drivers of M&A in the automotive electronics sector.

The market for automotive electronics is expected to exceed $100 billion by 2025. 

Restructuring through M&A enables these companies to better integrate, reconfigure, and pool resources, gain new and specific knowledge, and enhance overall capabilities.

Integration of cultures can be an important challenge when a smaller tech firm converges with a giant conventional automaker. For M&A to be successful, both companies in the transaction must be mindful of how greatly differing cultures need to be integrated with care.

Achieving Successful M&A

Beyond cultural integration, other important considerations in an M&A transaction between organizations include:

  • Proper targeting and vetting of both companies
  • Identification and mapping of internal processes of both organizations
  • Evaluation of the structural fit for each organization
  • Locations of all global and regional offices and facilities
  • Synchronization of the data, applications, and types of technologies used by each organization
  • Assessment of how their legacy systems and languages might conflict or be enhanced

It is also critical to the deal that both parties are kept on track and expectations are properly managed. This is where the partnership with an M&A advisory firm can make all the difference in a smooth transition and the ultimate success of the deal. This valuable partnership can also save significant time and financial resources.

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If you wish to formulate a plan to sell, grow or exit your company, contact us at Benchmark International today. Our experts are uniquely qualified to coordinate deals that deliver on every single wish and stipulation expressed by the business owners with which we form long-lasting partnerships. 

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M&A In The Global Transportation and Logistics Industry

By investing in the transportation and logistics sector, global companies open up the opportunity to advance the flow of goods throughout the world. Businesses in this industry, both domestic and international, benefit from integrated supply chain networks that connect companies and consumers through multiple transportation modes within industry subsectors.

Industry Subsectors

  • Logistics services include the management of fleets, warehousing, order fulfillment, logistics networks, inventory, supply and demand, third-party logistics, and other support services.
  • Air and express delivery provide accelerated end-to-end package delivery services, as well as infrastructure for exporters. Growth in this subsector is greatly driven by the expansion of e-commerce.
  • Freight rail moves high volumes of heavy cargo and products long distances via rail network.  
  • Maritime includes carriers, ports, terminals, and labor involved in the transportation of cargo and passengers via water.  
  • Trucking  moves cargo over the road by motor vehicles over short and medium distances. 

The transportation and logistics industry is consistently a highly fragmented sector. This is largely due to the fact that most fleets are small and there are few barriers to entry when it comes to starting a small fleet. Another major factor is that larger carriers have difficulty retaining drivers and achieving organic growth. Owners are always looking to gain efficiencies, optimize routes and spread fixed costs across more operations. In order to do so, they must create greater scale. It is common in the transportation and logistics sector for acquisition strategies to revolve around broadening service offerings, branching out the customer base, and expanding geographical reach. 

 

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Economic and Industry Factors

Burgeoning economies drive demand in the transportation and logistics industry. More freight demand stems from strong consumer confidence and upward surges in manufacturing, resulting in more loads and vehicles on roads. When this climate is met with driver shortages, it increases transportation costs, which can reduce margins.  

The Impact of Amazon.com

Amazon has greatly raised global consumer expectations when it comes to rapid fulfillment. This demand has shifted distribution patterns, pushing companies to move warehouses closer to customers. Getting products to consumers faster increases the number of touch-points along the freight network.

Automation Technologies

The introduction and evolution of new technologies in the transportation and logistic industry are addressing over-the-road challenges such as driver shortages. Long-haul robotic trucks are being developed and tested. Driverless and remotely piloted deliveries are being incepted, such as aerial delivery drones. Experts expect it to be a very long period of time before these advancements face more mainstream use, but someday in the future, the possibilities they hold will be very real.

Data-Driven Tech

Artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, data collection, machine learning, and blockchain are all being used within the transportation and logistics industry to gain major competitive insights and advantages, and therefore make better decisions that improve the performance of the company.

 

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Transportation and Logistics M&A

In the 21st century M&A market, transactions in the transportation and logistics industry are often driven by specific demographic, macroeconomic, and regulatory factors.

Sellers are motivated by:

  • The desire to take advantage of a strong overall M&A market
  • Volume limitations due to driver shortages, tight labor markets, aging drivers and increasing hiring costs
  • Aging ownership without a succession plan in place (usually companies with <$50 million in sales)
  • Unease about industry regulations around safety, driver hour limits and logging devices
  • The use of cross-border deals to counter negative impacts on operations, access new markets, and protect supply chains, as remaining agile in a globalized market is critical

Buyers are motivated by:

  • Leverage of economies of scale in order to maintain profitability
  • Capitalization on domestic economies with strong growth potential
  • The need to hire drivers while facing tight labor markets and rising hiring costs
  • Acquisition of smaller companies that expand service offerings
  • Use of various asset models to free up capital and invest in better equipment

A high level of activity in M&A in the transportation and logistics industry is contingent upon suitable timing in a growing economy, low interest rates, and widely available capital. It usually takes up to nine months to complete an M&A transaction, so timing and forward thinking should be considered when deciding to take your company to market.

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Are you considering selling your company? Even if you are merely exploring the idea, our M&A specialists at Benchmark International can help you decide if and when a merger or acquisition may be right for you. We’ll work closely with you to ensure that you never have to compromise value or timing, and that you are only matched with the most suitable opportunities.

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M&A In The Renewable Energy Industry

The renewable energy industry is one of considerable expansion. Global efforts to cut back on the use of non-renewable energy and to reduce carbon emissions are proven to stimulate investment and growth.As the world’s energy needs continue to change, the opportunities for mergers and acquisitions continue to evolve. And as the big technology companies get involved in renewable investments, major oil and gas companies follow their lead.

M&A activity in renewable energy is driven by traditional energy businesses striving to acquire new capabilities, institutional investors seeking stable returns, public demands to address climate change, and countries working to integrate cleaner energies into their existing energy mix. The European Union expects to achieve 32% of renewable energy consumption by 2030.

Established, traditional power companies must rely on M&A to fill gaps in capabilities because they do not possess needed skills that were never part of the mix in traditional grid-based power systems.

 

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Once viewed as a luxury form of energy only used in developed countries, renewable energy is now being adopted worldwide and in many developing countries, such as those in Africa and Latin America. Fossil fuel energy can be costly and difficult to transport and distribute in remote areas, making locally sourced renewable energy a practical option.

There are also other areas of continued development in the realm of renewable energy that offer M&A opportunities for investment and growth. These include the further development of electric vehicles, the electricity storage market—particularly battery technology—extending from technology manufacturers into the mineral supply chain and storage control systems. Digitization of the sector also presents the types of abundant opportunities that are inherent to technology and data in the 21stcentury.

Business Valuation As a Factor

Among the deal-specific factors that influence the valuation of individual renewable assets are:

  • Asset quality
  • Finance costs
  • Regulatory stability
  • The state of the wholesale energy market
  • The competitive environment
  • The lifecycle stage of the asset relative to the prevailing subsidy regime
  • Curtailment risks beyond the control of the asset owner

Many governments offer incentives and subsidies for renewable energy production and use, strengthening the value of companies of this sector. 

 

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Key Due Diligence Areas

In the acquisition of a renewable power project, the following due diligence topics must be considered:

  • The venture must have an energy generation license (or exemption from a license) and adhere to the terms of the license. It is also important to know if there has ever been a breach of the license.
  • There must be assessment ofthe project’s profitability and any credit support requirements.
  • It must be determined whether there will be any government subsidies for the project, which can affect its funding.
  • Property rights and planning permissions must be documented, ensuring that the correct leases, easements, planning permissions, and consents are in place and compliant.

The following key contracts are specific to the renewable energy sector and will be needed:

  • A shareholders’ agreement or joint venture agreement
  • Power purchase agreement
  • CFD or capacity agreement
  • Fuel supply agreement (in the case of biomass or biofuel generating plant technologies)
  • Engineering, procurement and construction contract
  • Operation and maintenance (O&M) agreement
  • Connection agreement
  • Financing documents

Because completing an M&A transaction in the renewable energy industry is extraordinarily nuanced and complicated, and embroiled in tedious due diligence processes and paperwork, it is highly advised that you seek the expertise of an M&A advisory firm before attempting to broker a deal.

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If you are considering selling your company, or even looking to plan an exit for your retirement, please call our M&A experts at Benchmark International to see how we can help you formulate a winning strategy. We are eager to get to work.

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The Ultimate Glossary of Terms for a Mergers & Acquisitions Transaction

If you are a seller or buyer that doesn’t have a lot of experience in the world of M&A, it can be frustrating and confusing trying to understand the terminology that is used. As much as we try not to confuse our clients, it is many times more efficient to use the specialized terms of the profession. To help, we have put together a list of common M&A terminology that we hope will assist you and make the process smoother if you are buying or selling a business.

Acquisition: One company takes over the controlling interest or controlling ownership in another company.

Add-On Acquisition: A strategic acquisition fit for an existing platform/portfolio company.

Asset Deal: The acquirer purchases only the assets (not its shares) of the target company.

Confidential Information Memorandum: Sometimes called “the book,” pitchbook or a deck, the Confidential Information Memorandum is a description of the business including products, history, management, facilities, markets, financial statements and growth potential. This is used to market the business to potential buyers.

 

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Data Room: Secure online website that contains information including contracts, documents, and financial statements of the business being sold. These online data rooms can track who views the information.

Deal Structure: May include seller debt, earn outs, stock, or other valuables besides cash.

Due Diligence: Part of the acquisition process when the acquirer reviews all areas of the target business to satisfy their interests. This includes viewing the internal books, operations, and internal procedures.

Earn-Out: A type of deal structure where the seller can earn future payments based on certain achievements or the performance of the business being sold after the closing. These are often based on revenue targets or earnings.

EBITDA: Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.

Goodwill: An intangible asset that comes as a result of name, customer loyalty, location, products, reputation, and other factors.

Indication of Interest (IOI): A letter from the buyer to the seller that indicates the general value and terms a buyer is willing to pay for a company. The letter is non-binding to both parties.

Letter of Intent (LOI): A document that lays out the key terms of the deal. LOI’s are typically non-binding for both parties except for certain provisions such as confidentiality and exclusivity.

Multiple: Common measure of value to compare pricing trends on deals.

NDA: A confidentiality agreement that prohibits the buyer from sharing the confidential information of the seller. This is usually signed before the seller provides detailed, sensitive information to a buyer.

 

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Purchase Agreement: The contract that contains all the specifics of the transaction and the obligations and rights of the seller and buyer.

Representations and Warranties (reps & warranties): Past or present statements of fact to inform the buyer or seller about the status and condition of their business and its assets, employees, and operations.

Search Fund: This is an individual or a group that is seeking to identify a business that the individual or group can acquire and manage. Usually, search funds do not have dedicated capital but instead, have informal pledges from potential investors.

Teaser: An anonymous document shared with potential buyers for a specific business that is for sale.

Working Capital: A financial term used as a measurement of a business’s ability to meet its financial obligations over the coming business cycle (which is 12 months for most businesses). It is not defined under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). However, it is commonly calculated using this formula: Working Capital = Current Assets – Current Liabilities.

If you are thinking about buying or selling a business, Benchmark International has a team of specialists that can help answer your questions. A simple phone call or email to us can start the process today.

 

Author
Amy Alonso 
Associate
Benchmark International

T: +1 615 924 8522
E: alonso@benchmarkcorporate.com

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Environmental Services Industry M&A

Waste disposal and recycling companies provide essential services to global communities, giving this sector a relatively high level of resistance to changing economic cycles. Urbanization, increasing populations, and consumer spending drive the ever-growing demand for waste and recycling services.

By the year 2050, global waste generation is expected to rise from 2.01 billion metric tons to 3.40 metric tons - an increase of 70%.

Of the massive amounts of waste created globally, less than one third of it is recycled. Canada and the United States lead the world in waste production, followed by Europe.

The management of sustainable materials, including recycling, can help conserve resources, reduce waste, and minimize the environmental impacts of materials. An increasing number of regions of the world are using sustainable management practices for regulation. National governments are developing long-term strategies that assess their country’s current waste situation and are setting targets for recycling, sustainability, citizen awareness, and rehab of contaminated sites. There is also a movement in low-income countries toward better recycling, and waste disposal in controlled or sanitary landfills.

 

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Environmental Consulting

A sub-sector of the environmental services industry is environmental consulting. Environmental consultants ensure company compliance with environmental regulations.

With the world’s heightened focus on environmental issues, this global market continues to expand. A relatively small group of firms dominates this market. In order for other firms in this industry to remain competitive, they need to focus on specialized expertise, targeted M&A activity, and dependable client relationships.

Waste and Recycling M&A

In the waste and recycling sector, mergers and acquisitions activity is stimulated by quality and consolidation. Positive debt financing and public equity performance drive M&A valuation higher for waste and recycling companies. Investing in waste management and remediation is especially attractive to private equity for several reasons, including:

  • Lower risk through essential services
  • High barriers to entry
  • Demonstrated track records
  • Modest capital investments outside the recycling sector
  • Large number of industry players

From a seller perspective, you should be aware of the three most common considerations for M&A deals in this sector.

  • The buyer’s strategic rationale: Does the transaction tap new markets, complement existing markets, or deliver new service offerings?
  • The health and growth of the target company: Does it have favorable contracts and strong assets that will not require a significant infusion of capital?
  • The company’s management team: Can the buyer be confident in a smooth transition and a good post-acquisition relationship?It is not uncommon for waste management companies that have more impressive management teams in place to garner higher valuations.

Owners should focus on removing any uncertainty surrounding their company. In the months leading up to a possible sale, contract negotiations are key. Owners should also be aware of the possibility for anti-trust issues to arise, even when the geographic impact is limited to a single local area. These issues can impact the timing and outcome of a deal so an anti-trust risk assessment should be conducted prior to going to market.

When to Sell

As a seller of a waste management company, determining when to sell can be a difficult decision, but certain factors should be considered.

  • Are contracts secure with favorable terms?
  • Are revenue streams are diverse and trending positive?
  • Is the fleet is in good condition?
  • What are the conditions of the market?

 

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Procure M&A Experts

Company owners in this sector who enlist experienced M&A advisors are less likely to leave money on the table in a sale. It is important to choose the right buyer, get proper valuation of the business, and exit at the right time.

Industry lenders have reported that there are many more unannounced deals in the waste industry than those anyone hears about. For this reason, it makes perfect sense for a buyer to partner with an expert to seek viable acquisitions. The waste industry is highly fragmented and, other than the top three major players, most companies post less than $20 million in annual revenue. Typically, they do not have the knowledge or bandwidth to blindly jump into the M&A market. The right M&A advisor can identify quality companies not being offered on the market and negotiate a successful sale.

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If you are thinking that the time has come to sell your business or to formulate a growth strategy, contact us at Benchmark International today. Whether you are in the waste industry or any other industry, we can connect you with the right buyer. Our approach is proven to get results that exceed our clients’ expectations time and time again.

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M&A In The Nuclear Power Sector

Population and economic growth drive the global demand for energy. Nuclear energy is the world's second largest source of low-carbon power and it makes up 11% of the world’s electricity generation. Around 50 countries use nuclear energy, and there are hundreds of nuclear reactors in operation around the world.

There are also around 225 research reactors under operation, with more under construction. These reactors are used for research and training, and produce medical and industrial isotopes.

As the world increasingly focuses on ways to reduce carbon emissions, nuclear power has the potential to play a more pivotal role, yet the industry is seeing the state of things go both ways. Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan shut down 48 of its reactors, and Germany began phasing out its nuclear program. And in several countries, the creation of new reactors is facing delays and cost issues. However, there is a bit of a dichotomy, as France still obtains 75% of its electricity from nuclear power, and the United States generates about twice as much as France.

The United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that reducing emissions will be far more expensive without the availability of nuclear power.

 

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M&A Optimism

A single nuclear power plant is capable of generating a significant amount of electricity. It also requires very expensive components. For this reason, markets see drastic fluctuations from year to year. But there is still a great deal of optimism for the nuclear energy sector.

A strong appetite remains for companies that are of service to the nuclear industry. Acquirers and investors recognize the value that companies can gain from the multitude of services or products that are needed to keep the sector operational. This particular industry generates significant spending year after year in order to keep nuclear power plants compliant with the scores of federal, state and local regulations that exist. These companies must also keep up with increases in power production, which translates to regular spending on equipment and services. This type of reliability represents a quality investment opportunity. In general, the industry itself is always facing uncertainty, but the companies that have a history of serving this sector remain a solid investment.

As the energy industry transitions toward more sustainable cleaner energies, power companies are forced to alter their business models, and are faced with consolidations.  Mergers and acquisitions have the power to streamline this very fragmented sector. Some companies are simply incapable of organically achieving the level of change they need. Plus, the nuclear energy industry has to compete with the increasingly popular natural gas industry.

Also, a new class known as small modular reactors (SMRs) has been introduced to the world and is garnering a great deal of enthusiasm and support.SMRs are less expensive, more efficient, offer more flexibility for utilities, and are easier to finance. This represents a stellar opportunity for growth and investment in the nuclear power industry.

There is also another sector that wholeheartedly relies upon the operation of nuclear reactors, and that is nuclear medicine. While nuclear medicine has existed for some time (widespread clinical use began in the 1950s), later 20th-century developments increased its role in healthcare (diagnostic imaging), and it is seeing an entirely new renaissance in the 21st century. Conventional pharmaceutical companies are eagerly seeking to get in the game of radiopharmaceuticals, radiotherapeutics, and radiotheranostics. In fact, it is predicted that by the year 2030, radiotherapeutics will account for more than 60% of the market and nuclear medicine will be worth $26 billion. This represents a staggering opportunity for M&A activity.

 

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Nuclear Energy M&A Expertise

Any energy M&A transaction requires a specialized level of expertise in order to avoid pitfalls that can blow a deal. Finding the right company broker is advised.

  • Knowledge of the industry and the nature of the markets are key
  • The ability to identify areas of risk is imperative. The due diligence required for deals in this sector is exceptionally painstaking
  • Complex regulatory issues must be firmly understood. Laws and regulations in the energy industry go beyond the energy regulatory governance to include environmental, health, safety, tax, employee benefits and property issues
  • Cross-border transactions require global and local understanding of the market and the regulatory differences and how it plays into the company valuation

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At Benchmark International, our global M&A experts are eager to help you make the next big move for your company and your future. Whether you wish to sell your business or plan your retirement, we have the strategies, connections, and technologies to make great things happen for you. 

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M&A In The Pharmacy Sector

Even though consolidation in the pharmacy services industry has been ongoing for several years, ample opportunity remains for mergers and acquisitions activity. It is inevitable that people will continue to need treatments for illnesses, which means that the demand for pharmaceuticals is always a robust market, and that directly correlates to the pharmacy industry. High demand translates to unique opportunities for sellers.

If businesses plan to stay competitive in the pharmacy industry, there are certain areas of focus in which they will need to remain vigilant.

  • The pressures of an increasingly on-demand society and getting medications to patients faster
  • Transparency must be clearly demonstrated when it comes to costs and start-ups are poised to capitalize on this market
  • Enhanced offerings to patients such as improved medication compliance or unique services that will help maintain a competitive foothold within an aggressive industry

 

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Specialty Pharmacy

The subsector of specialty pharmacy has been a burgeoning industry and includes pharmaceuticals that are subject to certain criteria. They are used to treat chronic, rare, or complex conditions, and they typically come with a high price tag. Availability for these specialty treatments is only through exclusive or limited distribution and they can often require special handling, storage, or administration requirements. Their safety is under continuous monitoring and patients who require these treatments also require significant education regarding their use.

Therapies categorized under specialty pharmacy are often injections or infusions, but can also include oral biopharmaceuticals. The types of diseases typically managed by specialty pharmacies include cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV/AIDS, and hepatitis C.

It has become common for specialty pharmacies to collaborate with hospitals, retail, and manufacturers. Such collaborations can improve patient access and patient care. It has also become more common for specialty pharmacies to consolidate for growth of market share and enhanced capabilities. New technologies play a large role in specialty pharmacy scalability. While scale is a clear marker of success, growth spans beyond the biggest companies to mid-tier pharmacies. Independent retail community pharmacies are finding more cost-effective ways to serve customers by creating collaborative networks that also make them more appealing partners for manufacturers. When it comes to M&A in the arena of limited-distribution drugs, strong capabilities and payer relationships are key to gaining exclusive access to these higher-priced therapies.

Infusion therapies are already a major driver of revenue growth, and are seeing more attention in the specialty pharmacy market to boost margin growth amid a slowdown in the introduction of new drugs. Additionally, more and morepatients are being treated in outpatient settings and in their own homes. Herein lies a major opportunity for specialty pharmacy to establish complementary strengths in infusion therapy.

Institutional Pharmacy

Nursing homes, hospitals and hospices that do not have an on-site pharmacy rely on institutional pharmacies to repackage and deliver prescription medications and other services for administration. Demand in this sector grows as the population ages, and there is a need for nontraditional revenue streams such as patient therapy evaluations, regulation compliance strategies, and clinical management programs that employ newer technologies.

In this multi-billion-dollar market, institutional pharmacy providers are faced with a particularly intricate set of organizational and regulatory challenges. Navigating these issues requires innovative solutions for institutional pharmacy providers across a multitude of topics that range from pricing to compliance.

 

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Keys to Successful M&A in the Pharmacy Sector

Innovation is driving the charge to unlock rapid growth in this space with focus on smart, actionable data, lower cost-of-care workflows, and better technology platforms. A skillfully executed M&A strategy makes all the difference in achieving meaningful growth aspirations.

A solid integration strategy plays an important role in pharmacy M&A to ensure that the structure creates advantages and retains talent while aligning corporate cultures, values and objectives. M&A transactions in the pharmacy space require careful planning, due diligence, and attentiveness to manage the intricacies of integrating multiple systems, processes, and organizations. Aspects that should be evaluated include relationships, clinical platforms, therapeutic areas, IT capabilities, business development, marketing, and sales.

Market timing is key, and you must have a concrete plan for how to partner effectively to expand capabilities. These deals demand a clear vision and organizational leadership focus across multifunctional disciplines in order to achieve M&A synergy.

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Are you ready to sell your company? Even if you are not sure, it is a great idea to have a conversation about your future with our M&A specialists. We can offer you expert strategies for how to grow your business, create a winning exit strategy, and executing a lucrative deal.

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Business Services M&A: Office Administration & Recruiting

When companies seek to enhance their margins and better serve their customers while reducing the cost of providing services, they outsource non-revenue producing functions to outside business services providers, known as business process outsourcing (BPO) companies. In the area of recruiting, it is a form of BPO, commonly referred to as Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO).

The business process outsourcing industry is valued at nearly $1 trillion USD. The United States leads the market with 40% share worth more than $400 billion, followed by Europe and the Middle East with a market valued at $300 billion. The global RPO market is valued at around $5 billion.

Technology has greatly expanded the capabilities in this sector, as it is not uncommon for companies to have virtual contact centers where employees work from their homes, or to have offshore centers where support staff works from another country or continent. It is less efficient for companies to have functions performed in-house that require overhead costs. This is a major driver of growth in the BPO industry and represents a relatively still-untapped opportunity in many countries that use little outsourcing.    

There are also several other benefits that companies gain by outsourcing services.

  • It frees up the time and energy of internal resources to focus on bigger picture strategic goals.
  • There is no time or cost associated with training new staff members.
  • It offers access to regulatory experts to ensure compliance in an increasingly regulated world.
  • There is no employer liability.
  • Administrative services can be paid for when they are needed, as opposed to employing someone full time and having them be under-utilized.
  • The interviewing and hiring processes can be avoided, saving additional time and money.
  • Employers do not need to pay benefits, leave or holidays for outsourced staff.
  • It also opens up the opportunity for smaller companies to carve out more market share by increasing their global reach.

 

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Office Administration Outsourcing

A large and growing segment of this outsourcing is office administration. Essentially any company in operation has administrative tasks that must be accomplished to keep the day-to-day operations running smoothly. Administrative functions that are often outsourced include payroll, accounting, human resources, data management, employee benefits, insurance claims management, and client support.

Recruitment Outsourcing

RPO companies emerged from traditional recruiting needs, but are designed to work differently. All or part of a company’s recruitment processes is assigned to an external service provider. RPO services differ from that of staffing companies in that they do not simply find candidates to fill job openings. They focus on the overall improvement of a company’s recruiting process as more of a strategic, consultative partner. They study factors such as turnover rates, technology, scalability, and how much time it takes to fill a position.

Many companies choose RPOs to improve recruitment efficiency, reduce cost, make hiring more scalable, improve the quality of hires, meet the talent needs of short-term projects, and improve workforce analytics and planning.

The industry sectors with the largest market shares are technology, telecom, finance, insurance, healthcare, biotech, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment.

BPO M&A Activity

As the use of BPO services becomes more common around the world, the M&A activity surrounding them increases, with a large concentration in the middle market. There is a tendency for customers to prefer fewer vendors with more diverse service offerings, motivating BPOs to use M&A to diversify to increase customer wallet share.

In this highly competitive market, BPO companies typically acquire target companies in order to gain:

  • More capabilities for broader service offerings
  • Exposure to higher growth end-market verticals
  • Broader geographic reach to offer more global services
  • Economies of scale to lower proportion of fixed costs

 

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RPO M&A Activity

RPO companies are becoming increasingly globalized as a result of mergers and acquisitions. To be successful in this growing market, RPO providers have found different ways to distinguish themselves.

  • They specialize across geographic regions, vertical markets, related jobs, and buyer segments.
  • They offer value-added and technology-based services, such as analytics and mobile recruiting.

For an M&A deal to be successful, sellers should conduct an all-encompassing assessment of their value proposition and how it ultimately aligns with the buyers’ interests.

M&A Due Diligence

Conducting due diligence for a merger or acquisition is always a time-consuming undertaking, and this is especially true when the target is a BPO company. Location analysis of the target company should be performed for any potential acquisition to help form an accurate purchase price and avoid costly post-closing issues. It assesses site location, economic development, competition, real estate markets, workforce issues, saturation levels, historical attrition rates, recruitment, and retention viability. Partnering with a specialty company broker who has this type of experience is advised.

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If you are ready to take the next step with your business, whether it is selling, expanding, or retiring, contact our M&A specialists today. Our expertise, global connections, and proprietary technologies are here to guide you to a prosperous future. 

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Global Investment Banking Companies And M&A

New technologies are constantly reshaping industries, and global investment banking is not immune to these impacts, as newfinancial startups create technologies that cut into the relationship-based work that investment banks do.In order to continue to thrive, the big investment banks must keep up with innovation.

 IPOs

The underwriting of initial public offerings (IPOs) has always been a major source of profit for investment banks. Prominent investment banks play a large part in IPOs, as they come with prestigious reputations that instill confidence among public investors in the legitimacy of a deal.

However, tech companies have changed the game by negotiating lower fees, exploring alternatives to IPOs, and simply electing to not go public at all. Technology companies are usually the highest-returning public offerings. When venture capitalists and sovereign wealth funds put more cash on the table, some startups are able to remain private, providing challenges for investment banks.

Going public is a complicated legal process and most companies need the guidance of investment banks, which profit from the large fee that they earn to protect themselves from risk if the company’s stock underperforms.

Big investment banks have had to shift their strategies and turn to internal automation and technology in order to secure their competitive advantage in the world of IPOs. This allows them to hire fewer junior bankers, complete more IPOs in less time, and maintain high profit margins.

 

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Asset Management

Asset management is a highly profitable financial service, but it has faced increased regulation since the 2008 financial collapse. These regulations make it more difficult for investment banks to trade with client money because of checks and balances that ensure the banks are not carrying too much risk. Dedicated asset management firms do not face the same regulations as investment banks, so they tend to be a more popular growth option for investors. Also, money management firms are able to drive returns at smaller fees.

Strategic M&A

Traditionally, mergers and acquisitions were solely viewed as a pathway to increase earnings per share for companies combining assets with similar businesses. Big investment banks were once major players in these transactions, prior to the shift in focus to more strategic M&A solutions that require less financial management and more product vision. Middle market M&A expands with more technology options and big investment banks become less relevant in a shifting process that calls for more concentrated expertise, strategic vision, and an interest in delivering on the goals of business owners rather than just collecting hefty fees. M&A advisory firms are more suited to achieving the individual aspirations of owners through the crafting of strategies that are carefully tailored to their needs.

M&A is a very relationship-driven industry. The biggest investment banks often do not garner a high level of trust among executives for M&A transactions, and are subject to more potential conflicts of interest than that of smaller banks or advisory firms—which are also able to conduct M&A deals more quickly and affordably.

 

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As the industry landscape changes for big investment companies, they are being forced to adapt in different ways. Some banks are selling off dwindling operations and focusing on areas that are still profitable. Some are hurrying to launch new technology and digital products. Others are restructuring and hiring new workers in places where it costs less to operate. Overall, big investments banks must change the way they do business in order to fend off further decline.

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When you need global M&A expertise to guide your business into the future, contact us at Benchmark International. We will leave no stone unturned when it comes to crafting the right kind of strategies that work for you.

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Solar and Hydroelectric Power and M&A

As the world calls more and more for renewable energy sources to replace carbon-burning fossil fuels, the industries of solar and hydroelectric power offer important alternatives, as well as opportunities for mergers and acquisitions.

Solar power converts energy from the sun into thermal or electrical energy. It is one of the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy sources available. In recent decades, the cost of solar power has decreased substantially.

Hydroelectric power uses turbine-driven generators to convert the energy of moving water into mechanical energy. As one of the oldest methods of creating power, today it is one of the most largely used forms of clean, renewable energy. Because the use of hydropower relies on flowing bodies of water, its use varies based on geographical locations and circumstances.

As the world seeks to turn to cleaner sources of energy, major corporations are also doing so as part of a larger growth strategy. For example, oil giant Shell has a plan to become the world’s largest power company AND cut its carbon footprint in half by the year 2050. To achieve this goal, a majority of the energy capacity added to its portfolio must be derived from renewable power sources.

 

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Solar Power M&A

There are several factors that are proven to create opportunities for M&A in the solar energy market. Solar is still a relatively young industry, which opens up the opportunity for many newcomers to enter the industry and consolidate to grow in scale.

  • In Africa, there is an abundance of access to solar power, but there are obstacles to financing. By 2050, Africa is expected to grow from 1.1 billion to 2 billion people, with a total economic output of $15 trillion. This money can be targeted to infrastructure, energy and transportation, and global investors are taking note.
  • In the United States, the government makes it an attractive venture for companies to get into solar power through tax breaks, which translates to growth. In fact, in the U.S., solar power deals have already surpassed the $10 billion mark.
  • In Europe, companies view M&A as a strategy to enter the U.S. market.

Other opportunities for M&A in the solar energy sector surround installation and manufacturing. As the industry evolves, installers grow in size, brand, and geographical reach and gain market share through consolidation. Regarding manufacturers, the outsourcing of panel production and assembly can motivate solar companies to sell those capabilities as an outsourcing strategy.

The solar power industry is quite a global market. In order to successfully complete cross-border transactions in this space, companies should wisely enlist the expertise and network of a globally connected M&A advisory firm.

 

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Hydroelectric Power M&A

Hydropower may be a much older technology than other forms of renewable energy, yet there are still plenty of opportunities for the development of new facilities or expansion of existing infrastructure. Some of the positive aspects of hydroelectric power projects include their low operating costs, clean power generation, and lengthy service lives. On the downside, the regulatory approval process can be drawn out, and these projects call for significant early capital spending.

As in most industries, investment in hydropower is based on the project's risks and projection of future revenue. For developers to gain access to capital, they need to identify the revenue streams that will service debt (energy projects typically have several revenue streams), offer a return on investment, and have a plan to minimize regulatory and construction risks. It is typical for banks and other investors to only invest in new projects when there is certainty in the power purchase agreement.

The earlier investors are brought into the project, the more careful developers must be with regard to the terms offered. Investors may ask for ownership share or control that is excessive. Enlist the counsel of an experienced advisor to determine whether a proposal is fair. You may need more funding down the line, so the transaction must be flexible enough for more investors to get involved. The earlier you partner with an M&A advisor, the better you can plan the project’s future, and the more risks you can avoid in the long run.

Even the most encouraging and favorable hydroelectric projects can fall apart due to perceived risks. Any risks must be identified and addressed by developers as early as possible.Many issues can be environmental in nature. Research into the project’s impacts on local fisheries and species must be thoroughly conducted, and early communication with public officials is key.

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Any energy M&A transaction calls for a specialized level of expertise to ensure that the deal is done right. Finding a highly experienced global firm is in your best interest. If you desire to be on the sell-side of a deal, contact our M&A advisors at Benchmark International to begin the process of finding the perfect fit and solution for you, your family, and your company.

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How to Do a Re-trade: 5 Easy Steps

At Benchmark International, we work exclusively on the sell-side, so we would love to say, “The way to do a re-trade is to never do a re-trade.” However, when you have completed countless deals, there are times when we are tied so closely into those deals that we know the terms of the original offer do not stand up to the target company’s actual position following due diligence. In other words, we will admit when there is a legitimate reason to re-trade a deal term, including the price.

Our experience also tells us that these instances are rare when sellers have been through our process, and there is a right way and wrong way to do it if you want the deal to close. We encourage you to avoid blown deal costs by following these simple steps:

 

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Step 1: Discuss it with us first. Yes, we are going to push back. Yes, we are going to support our client. But we will also be able to keep the deal on track by doing the following:

  • In a best-case scenario, clarifying a misconception on your part that moots your need to re-trade
  • Giving you a read on how our client will react
  • Suggesting the best means of communicating the issue so that the reaction you receive best matches the severity of the actual change
  • Providing our client our open and honest view of the change and the reasons for it before he or she has had a day or two to lock themselves into a position that may be based on less than the clearest picture possible
  • Delving into our resources to convert what starts as a win-lose scenario to something closer to a win-not-lose-too-much scenario

Step 2: Have your data lined up. Very often we see re-trades supported by vague concepts and no numbers. These cause extra problems. If the amount of the re-trade can come over on the left side of the page with a numerical breakdown of the reasons for the re-trade on the right side of the page, and the seller can see that the two balance one another out—even if just figuratively—we are all in a much better position to get to the closing.

Step 3: Don’t wait. When you find something in diligence that looks like it is building to be the source of a re-trade, don’t save it all up and then dump it on the sell-side at the last minute. Conditioning the recipient of bad news is always the best way to get the most appropriate response to that news.

Step 4: Don’t overreach. Even in our smallest deals, we are not operating in a Turkish bazaar. There is no need to ask for $500,000 when you need $250,000. That type of negotiation works well in one-off trades but not when you are trying to build a relationship that is expected to hit additional bumps before the deal closes and likely needs some level of ongoing trust after closing.

Step 5: Be open to creative solutions. Regardless of how meaningful the problem is and how large a fix you need, your solution may not be the only acceptable one. It may not even be the best one for you.  There are many ways to change a deal to address an unforeseen risk and provide the protection you need to offset that risk. The key to getting the transaction closed is often finding the amount of offset you need using the method of offset the seller can accept.

Benchmark International works hard with its client to avoid the need for re-trades. We collect extensive data on our clients prior to going to market. We run a very process-driven data room and often pre-populate it. We encourage our clients to get in front of disclosing detracting factors to avoid any surprises. We comb through every financial statement and tax return our clients can produce. In some countries, we are able to verify returns against official tax transcripts. Unlike many other brokers, we will even put known issues into our Confidential Information Memorandums. We attempt to place our clients with experienced M&A legal advisors. We understand—and make every effort to ensure our clients understand— that hiding an issue is not going to get them a better deal, may cost them a very good deal, and will never make it through due diligence.

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M&A And The Textile And Apparel Manufacturing Industry

The Course of the Apparel Industry

Several factors have reshaped, and continue to reshape, the worldwide textile and apparel manufacturing industry. The paradigm has shifted into a digital market that demands speed and agility from industry players. These sweeping influences create drivers of increased mergers and acquisitions activity in this market.

  • Online expansion, the reduction in brick-and-mortar store locations, and omni-channel shopping
  • Sophisticated tech-savvy consumers and social media influencers
  • Digitization of payments, points of sale, logistics and delivery
  • Demand for fashion at lower prices
  • A growing market for fair fashion and demand for increased sustainability as younger generations call for reduced impacts on the environment
  • Cost-cutting measures and restructuring to focus on core brands
  • Emerging markets of second and third-tier cities and the assertive expansion of fast-fashion retailers

The E-commerce Race                                                                                  

Becoming a go-to platform for customers in the apparel industry means that companies are forced to innovate and diversify their offerings to provide added value, relying less on retail margins. This not-easy task can be accomplished through internal research and development, or mergers and acquisitions.

 

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Changes in Fashion Ownership

Consumers are becoming more interested in different ways to extend the lifespan of fashion items as new companies crop up that offer used clothing, refurbished apparel, and even clothing rental. As more of these new companies emerge, the existing fashion retailers must to adapt to embrace these new ownership models, which are being heavily driven by younger generations that still want new clothes but are more concerned with sustainability. Even luxury brands are embracing this model, but are buying resale or rental businesses so that they can maintain control over the marketing of their brands.

Thinking Small

More and more consumers—and investors—are being enchanted by small brands with interesting and genuine stories. Younger generations prefer small brands and authenticity. Digital marketing changes how the brand narratives are conveyed and provides a cost-effective vehicle to reach larger audiences. And retailers want the differentiation that draws customers in and boosts their margins. Small brands are also able to cater to niche shoppers and more nimbly react to market trends. These small apparel companies are seeing billions of dollars in funding. The giant fashion brands must adapt to this shift in philosophy and add small brands to their portfolios.

On-Demand Fashion

Data analytics and automation have created a new market for companies that focus on made-to-order manufacturing of apparel. Small-batch production cycles are a result of the need for a more rapid response to changing trends and consumer demands, as well as a reduction in overstock.

From a financial viewpoint, on-demand fashion production has both benefits and drawbacks. It requires lower capital investment. It leads to smaller inventories, which means more agility. And faster turnaround cycles can ease demand uncertainties and make production more sustainable. In contrast, production and transport costs are typically higher because of the smaller batches.

Digital Textile Printing

Conventional textile printing methods (rotary screen or flatbed) are being abandoned for newer digital printing methods, especially in European countries. Digital printing allows textile manufacturers to respond to an increasing demand for fast fashion through shorter production runs and customization.

This tech-driven printing sector is drawing the attention of private equity and strategic investors. M&A deals in this space create companies that combine specialty technical mastery with the market and monetary reach of large corporations.

 

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M&A Motivation

There are several reasons to sell a company in this sector. It can be too expensive to keep up with new trends in such a quickly changing operating environment. It can be beneficial to sell within a segment that has high valuation levels (such as affordable luxury or athletic wear). Additionally, brick-and-mortar retailers can sell assets to focus on the development of their flagship and online stores.

There are also many reasons to buy a company in this sector, such as the integration of the supply chain from manufacturers to wholesalers. It can also drive geographical expansion or growth into a new segment, especially emerging markets with developing economies. Another tactic can be to leverage existing brand equity to profit from a known brand that the current owner cannot afford to maintain or grow. Plus, the ever-changing technology landscape means new opportunities within tech companies that serve the industry.

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Let’s talk about a plan to sell your business. Contact the experts at Benchmark International to start strategizing for a sale, growth, or your exit from the company. We are eager to get to work with you.

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M&A And The Furniture Manufacturing Industry

The furniture manufacturing industry includes the design, production, distribution and sale of household, institutional and office furniture and related products. Global furniture sales are expected to increase 5% each year through 2025. According to Dun & Bradstreet, the countries that are home to the most furniture manufacturing companies are Brazil (72,063), China (62,832, Poland (22,389), with these three accounting for more than half of the world’s furniture manufacturers (54.9%).

Mergers and acquisitions deals in the furniture manufacturing industry are driven by a variety of factors:

  • Healthy economies and housing trends
  • Major retailers looking to tap new markets
  • Vendors seeking category and price-point expansion
  • Foreign manufacturers looking to grow geographical production
  • Increased investor confidence due to Millennials approaching their prime spending years
  • Family-owned businesses with aging management and no succession plan

Consolidation Within the Industry

Furniture needs are evolving and the industry is seeing overlap between residential, hospitality and commercial projects, creating increased appetite for acquisitions.

Strong, existing industry players are known to utilize M&A to expand their global footprints, product lines and price-point offerings. Building out helps companies to gain market strength and enhance shareholder value.

In some regions, labor shortage issues present a challenge. Therefore, companies with trained and skilled labor are able to command a premium in a sale.

Vendors that design furniture but outsource it from overseas are seeking competitive advantages. And those overseas producers are looking to increase their global presence. Geopolitical factors have a good bit of influence on how prosperous these M&A transactions can be so they are contingent upon global economic situations and trade relationships.

Large furniture companies that have a cash surplus from operations, reduced taxes, and funds recouped from offshore business, have liquidity that drives them seek out strategic acquisitions.

The Role of Private Equity

Private equity investors look to the furniture industry to create value within vendors and retailers, as well as add-on acquisitions that create platform companies. In the case of furniture production, manufacturers have assets that can be leveraged in a purchase, especially for the upholstery sector.

Consolidation at the retail level also increases investment interest in the furniture industry. As more retail store locations close their doors, private equity investors see opportunities for new retail concepts to replace them. And when larger investors show interest, smaller investors take notice. Consolidation also creates synergies of shared office, logistics and warehousing costs, which can lead to higher profit margins.

Value Drivers for Furniture Manufacturing Companies

  • Online sales: In today’s world, the majority of furniture sales now take place online. Businesses must have a compelling and secure e-commerce platform and a strong online advertising and digital marketing presence in order to remain competitive.
  • Factory maintenance: The actual manufacturing conditions are a key component in valuations. This includes equipment service and maintenance, inventory, and overall environment. 
  • Vendor relationships: Having a variety of healthy, trusted vendor relationships shows buyers that profits can be expected to remain steady due to changes in ownership.
  • Skilled staff: The creation of high-caliber products and a company’s reputation hinge upon the craftsmanship and retention of the staff. Satisfied employees produce consistent quality, which translates into higher sales numbers.
  • Safety measures: The furniture manufacturing industry is more prone to employee injuries than most because of its labor intensiveness, making on-the-job injuries a costly expense. Highly detailed and enforced safety plans can save businesses money, making prospects less risky and more appealing to investors.

Careful M&A Approach

A major challenge that furniture companies run into with M&A transactions is maintaining the day-to-day operations of the business throughout the course of a deal. A merger or acquisition can be a significant distraction that can put strain on financial departments and senior management, putting the everyday work on hold. For this reason, buyers typically look to target add-on companies. It is wise for business owners seeking M&A strategies in this industry to enlist the experience and guidance of a reputable M&A firm to facilitate a value-driven deal that allows for the sustained success of the company and takes advantage of proper market timing.

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If you are a business owner and would like to consider ways to grow or sell your company, our M&A experts at Benchmark International are waiting for your call. We can even assist you with exit planning for your retirement. We look forward to hearing from you.  

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Global Government Contractors And M&A

Mergers and acquisitions in global government contracting (specifically the technology, aerospace, defense, and government services industries) is a market that tends to remain stable and ripe with opportunity. This sector offers many positive qualities such as revenue transparency and predictability. Strategic buyers seek products, services, sales channels, and geographical presences that broaden capabilities and make them more competitive. Companies with advanced technologies are in an especially advantageous position for acquisition.

Yet, even in an environment that consistently sees a strong flow of defense M&A deals, there is a heightened level of risk with plenty of opportunity for errors and setbacks. The business of government contracting is highly regulated and can be extremely complex, with a great deal of challenges. It is also subject to the effects of government spending budgets—and budget cuts.

Governments enforce intricate legal and regulatory requirements. Failure to adhere to these requirements can result in government actions that include contract termination, suspension, debarment, damages and penalties. Suspension and debarment, which means that a company can no longer conduct business with the government, can be a result of unfair trade practices, fraud, commission of crimes, and even a lack of business integrity or honesty. There is also a great deal of emphasis placed on conflicts of interest.

 

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With so many possible risks, careful planning is imperative when considering a transaction in this space. It is recommended that sellers engage M&A experts with a strong reputation, transaction experience in their sector, and strong connections within the global buyer community.

It is also recommended that sellers prepare for a sale from the perspective of the buyer.  

  • Determine areas of exposureDue diligence is always important in determining an accurate valuation of a company, and this is even more so in the case of government contractors. It demands a meticulous level of scrutiny. The company’s level of compliance can directly impact the valuation. Often, many contracting companies also run commercial businesses and have less strict compliance programs versus pure government contractors, yet carry the same risks.
  • Assess risk and successor liabilitySerious risk mitigation strategies are necessary when it comes to proper recordkeeping regarding compliance, including cyber-security and socio-economic topics, as well as a lack of negative factors such as prior suspensions or debarments, tax violations, investigations, and claims. Additionally, what is the exit strategy that is in place, and how can it improve the quality of buyer conversations and increase valuation?
  • File regulatory notices and approvalsBe prepared for the filing of government notices, regulatory approval prerequisites, and post-M&A integration. These filings should be identified in the agreement, and the parties should preemptively agree to a process for securing government approvals.

Other important considerations regarding government contracts mergers and acquisitions that any seller should anticipate include:

  • Analysis of existing and prospective government contracts held by the entity to be acquired and assignment of contracts to the buyer
  • Any potential socio-economic impacts as a result of the transaction
  • The transfer of facility and top-secret clearances, as well as intellectual property rights
  • Assessment of conflicts of interest that could exclude the buyer from future contracts
  • Whether the target company is compliant with specific government regulations
  • Any existing subcontracts and teaming agreements
  • Past performance of the target company and its impact on the buyer’s ability to win other government contracts

 

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Foreign transactions may face additional challenges in completing M&A transactions in the government-contracting sector. These include more stringent due diligence processes, export law compliance, security clearances, cultural differences, and foreign investment scrutiny. This applies even further regarding higher risk regions, such as Africa.

In the case of cross-border deals, there are key concerns as to:

  • Whether the seller is considered an inverted domestic corporation and no longer eligible for future government contracts
  • If there should be inclusion of a board of directors as part of a mitigation plan to allow continuation of the seller’s facility clearance

Proper due diligence can identify risks in a transaction, create accurate representation and certifications, confirm that the adequate disclosures and indemnifications are obtained, and secure necessary government approvals, resulting in a successful and profitable acquisition.

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If you are interested in making a move in this sector, please consult with our international M&A specialists, as we have the desired experience in transactions involving government contractors and companies that support them.

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Understanding The Inverted Yield Curve

The inverted yield curve is a situation that occurs when the interest rates on short-term bonds are higher than the interest rates paid by long-term bonds. It basically means that there is enough concern about the near-future markets that people move their money into less risky long-term investments. Any time this scenario arises, investors get nervous because it typically warns of a recession.

Short-term vs. Long-term Bonds

In thriving economies, bondholders demand a higher yield (profit) for longer-term bonds versus short-term bonds.

  • Short-term bonds mature in less than five years and carry a lower interest rate risk. These funds do not yield large returns. They give investors a safe way to earn higher yields than they would with extremely low-risk investments and do not require money to be tied up for a long period of time.
  • With long-term bonds, there is a much longer maturity period and people are required to invest their money for greater lengths of time. While these types of bonds yield higher returns, there is also an increased risk that higher inflation could reduce the value of payments, and that higher interest rates could cause the bond's price to drop. A longer-term bond also carries a higher risk of default.Basically, the longer it takes to be repaid, the greater the risk that inflation will swallow your investment.
  • Most investors choose to have a mix of both short- and long-term bonds.

 

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Treasury Bonds

Government debt securities are known as Treasury bonds or T-bonds. These types of bonds are considered to be virtually risk-free. They earn fixed interest until they mature (a period of 10-30 years). Once they mature, the owner is also paid the face value of the bond. Treasury bonds make interest payments semiannually and the income earned is only taxed federally.

The Inverted Yield Curve

Treasury bonds help to form the yield curve, which includes the full range of investments offered by the United States government and diagrams yields by maturity. It usually curves upward, with longer-term bonds having a higher yield. The yield curve becomes inverted when long-term bonds are in high demand and the rates are shown to be lower than those of shorter-term bonds.Essentially, in this scenario, investors expect that they will make more money by holding onto a longer-term bond than a short-term one.

The yield curve inversion can also point toward expectations by investors that the Federal Reserve will cut short-term interest rates in an effort to boost the economy.

A Predictor of Recessions

Although it can happen months or years before a recession begins (usually an average of 18-22 months), the inversion of the yield curve has been a consistent predictor of every recession since the 1960s. For that reason, any time it happens, there is heightened anxiety and anticipation of slowed economic growth.

The last time the yield curve inverted was in 2007, prior to the financial crisis and recession of 2008, which was the worst recession since the Great Depression. The yield curve also inverted prior to the recessions of 2001, 1991, and 1981.

In this latest case, the yield curve first inverted in December of 2018, and inverted even further in March of 2019. Then, the 10-year yield hit a three-year low of 1.65% on August 12, 2019.On August 15, the yield on the 30-year bond closed below 2% for the very first time in history. Fears of the ongoing economic effects of the trade war between the United States and China are fueling the market concerns around the world. 

The science of forecasting financial futures is never a 100% certainty, and while the inverted yield curve has proven to be a reliable indicator of things to come, it does not necessarily guarantee that a recession will happen. As of August 2019, the Federal Reserve has said that there is only around a 35% chance of a recession.

 

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What It Means for M&A

An inverted yield curve can have implications for mergers and acquisitions, especially if you are aiming to grow your company.

For example, let’s say that part of your growth strategy requires funding for building expansion or new equipment. Under an inverted yield curve, short-term interest rates become higher than long-term interest rates. Some businesses may find this to be good news because they can lock in a good rate for the long term.

It may be impossible to predict financial futures, but enlisting the help of experience M&A advisors can help you formulate growth and risk management strategies for your company that make the most of available capital for expansion and lower your risk in all yield-curve situations.

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The Global Technology Industry and M&A

The trillion-dollar technology industry is inherently subject to massive growth, disruptive mega-trends, and voracious corporate and investor appetite. Companies such as Internet software and services, e-commerce, telecom, financial tech, cybersecurity, data analytics, social, travel tech, and auto tech are the world’s major players.

The main drivers for M&A in this sector are the creation of revenue growth, improved efficiencies, acquiring key talent, and staying ahead of competitors. It can be more efficient for a big tech firm to buy a smaller technology company in order to gain new functionality or services without creating them itself. It also serves as a pathway to ease into newer areas, as non-technology companies look to acquire technology companies to avoid disruption.

Mergers and acquisitions are commonly used as exit strategies for businesses in the technology industry. Company owners tend to prefer to cash in through M&A versus IPOs because IPOs can take longer and involve more regulatory authorities. 

 

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The Software Sector

Enterprise software and software as a service (SaaS) companies comprise a major segment of the technology industry. IT, data and cloud-based services have permeated every field of business in the world. Traditional and legacy software providers are using M&A in order to remain relevant. Healthcare, financial, and customer relationship management services software are continually in high demand. And digital marketing deals play a key part in the software M&A landscape.

Tech Company Valuations

Technology businesses that garner the highest company valuations for M&A typically share the same set of qualities:

  • Reliable growth metric performance
  • Good product/market fit
  • Above-average margins
  • Strong and predictable cash flows
  • Positive key performance indicators
  • Low owner involvement
  • Streamlined operations
  • A formulated exit plan

Additionally, investors are usually willing to pay more for businesses that have well-built brands because they are able to focus on long-term growth strategies without worrying about being eclipsed by intense competition while changes are being made.

Due Diligence

In the technology sector, careful due diligence is especially important to coordinating a successful deal. In an industry where lifecycles can be short and technologies can change quickly, there is great risk. Understanding the future relevance of the product or service is key. If a company is profitable today, it does not mean it will be tomorrow, making growth potential a larger motivating factor for M&A than current profitability. Therefore, in addition to financial due diligence, there needs to be a high level of technical and commercial due diligence. There are intellectual property issues, and due diligence must fully assess patents, copyrights, trademarks, domain names, trade secrets, and mask works

 

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Cross-border M&A

Technology has completely blurred global borders, which greatly increases opportunities in M&A. While acquirers can expand their worldwide reach, this can also make the processes more complicated and time consuming for several reasons.

  • Countries have varying and evolving regulations regarding technology and privacy, as well as tax and labor-related factors.
  • Integration becomes more complex because of cultural differences, language barriers, and variances in corporate philosophies.
  • The geographical distance between the companies can also make coordination difficult when trying to communicate in opposing time zones.
  • Geopolitical factors can cause uncertainty and influence the feasibility of deals.

All of these circumstances change the implications for M&A strategies and calls for heightened expertise in dealing with cross-border transactions.

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If you are considering a merger or an acquisition, you will love the way we do things at Benchmark International. We are motivated to achieve all of your aspirations and will never present you with a deal that we think will fall even the slightest bit short of your wants and needs. Count on our industry experts to use their global connections to deliver the right options for you.

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10 Facebook Pages About M&A To Follow

Benchmark International

@BenchmarkCorporate

Benchmark International is a leading worldwide M&A advisory firm that specializes in the lower to middle markets. On the company's Facebook page, you will find regularly updated news and information regarding the organization and its involvement in the world, as well as relevant topics and insightful articles regarding different industries, topics in M&A, and additional useful information for entrepreneurs, business owners, business buyers, and anyone eager to learn more about M&A.

 

M&A Leadership Council

@MALeadershipcouncil

The M&A Leadership Council is a global alliance of companies and experts in everything related to mergers & acquisitions, including best practices, training and certification, resources, and information about M&A companies. Their Facebook page offers a nice compilation of content that is relevant to people working in M&A, as well as CEOs and business owners, and it keeps followers updated on interesting events.  

 

The Middle Market

@themiddlemarket

This M&A-focused page offers breaking news, in-depth commentary, and helpful analysis about deal making in the burgeoning middle market. It is frequently updated with information regarding current deals that are being made or have been made, and articles that focus on other happenings in certain industries, as well as M&A events.

 

Entrepreneur

@EntMagazine

This popular publication caters specifically to entrepreneurs and topics relevant to them, offering tips, tools, and insider news to help businesses grow. Here you will find occasional articles regarding M&A news and insights mixed in with a wealth of other quality information that is relevant to business leaders.

 

Institute for Mergers, Acquisitions & Alliances

@imaa.institute

IMAA is a global, non-profit M&A think tank and educational provider. They offer M&A trainings and workshops for executives worldwide, and offer the only globally oriented M&A Certificate Program. Their Facebook page is frequently updated with information and coverage regarding their events, as well as news and opinions on M&A from around the world.

 

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Harvard Business Review

@HBR

Founded in 1922, Harvard Business Review promotes smart management thinking for business professionals worldwide through reliable insights and best practices, with the ultimate goal of making leadership more effective. Their Facebook content spans a myriad of business-related topics and news, including happenings in the world of M&A.

 

Morningstar, Inc. 

@MorningstarInc

With a mission to power investor success, Morningstar is a top provider of independent investment research in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. It provides data and research insights on a range of investment offerings, including managed investment products, publicly listed companies, private capital markets, and real-time global market data, and their Facebook page reflects these related topics.

 

Investopedia

@Investopedia

For 20 years, Investopedia has provided educational information on complex financial concepts, investing, and money management. While not exclusive to M&A, on their Facebook page you will find a variety of topics covered that are relevant to businesses of all types, stocks and the economy, including articles that delve into mergers, acquisitions, trends, and historical transactions.

 

CNBC International

@cnbcinternational

The self-proclaimed "home of all things money" network is a leading business and financial news organization that reports stories from around the world. Here you can access real-time market coverage and news related to careers, entrepreneurship, leadership, personal finance, and mergers and acquisitions.

 

Seeking Alpha

@Seekingalpha

Seeking Alpha is a substantial worldwide investing online community, and their Facebook page is a great extension of their online presence. The platform connects millions of investors and money managers every day regarding news and investment ideas. They handpick articles and podcasts from the world's top market blogs, money managers, financial experts, and investment newsletters, publishing approximately 250 articles daily. 

 

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Contact one of our analysts if you are ready to start a conversation about M&A for your business.

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Global Media Industry and M&A

Global media and entertainment conglomerates and their subsidiaries distribute mass media to the public such as television, gaming, radio, amusement parks, Internet, and publications. It’s in the nature of these types of companies—of all sizes—to continually pursue avenues for growth.

Over the years, we have seen just how much reinvention occurs in the global media industry. Consider how drastically the landscape has changed. In 1983, the media industry was dominated by 50 major companies. By 1987, that number was down to 29. In the early 1990s, the figure reduced to 23. By the end of the 1990s, there were only ten major conglomerates. In the 21stcentury, mega-deals starting taking place, causing the largest media groups to decrease in number but grow in size.

Key transaction areas for pursuing mergers and acquisitions in this global industry include:

  • Horizontal-scale deals: Companies consolidate within their own sector to increasing earnings and improve operations.
  • Cross-sector deals: Companies look outside their core sector to add products and services and integrate vertically across the supply chain.
  • Cross-border deals: Companies target growth into different global markets that offer favorable long-term fundamentals.
  • Portfolio optimizers: Companies use divestitures to streamline diversified asset bases and allocate capital to the most favorable opportunities.

 

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Competition to Innovate

It is common in this sector for the attractive opportunities to draw a great deal of competition for acquisition. The landscape is rapidly and constantly evolving as new technologies emerge and key players are always seeking ways to be the one to introduce the next big thing. Streaming service and cord cutting have been the most recent significant drivers of change. Big tech firms such as Apple, Amazon and Netflix continue to ramp up the pressure on the conventional stand-alone media model, bringing content consumption to the forefront and making the need for differentiation and integration more critical to strategies for media companies.

Unique Due Diligence

In an industry where content is king, there are very specific due diligence challenges for M&A that require meticulous attention if the goals of the transaction are to be fully achieved.

  • Copyright and Intellectual Property: Entertainment assets are subject to intellectual property protections that vary on regional, national and global levels, such as copyright, trademark and naming rights. Due diligence needs to dive deep into these rights, their usage and how they impact all parties involved, which can be extraordinarily complicated. The results of such a careful examination can directly affect valuation, so it must be conducted as thoroughly as possible.
  • Large Volumes of Content:M&A transactions in the media and entertainment industry involve massive amounts of content that can be owned by a target company. There can be millions of individual items of content that could have been created decades ago and are now owned as a result of prior acquisitions. There should be prioritization of the most valuable content, especially if there are competing acquirers and a deal must be made quickly.
  • Contractual Agreements:The production and distribution of entertainment content involves many different agreements and contractual arrangements. Careful due diligence will uncover key information regarding financial obligations, royalties, residuals and other contingent payments. How are royalty amounts determined and recouped? How do they compare with revenue and expenses in other financial documents? Does the transaction include agreements that expect the acquisition of more content in the future? Are there any unusual provisions or clauses regarding talent? These kinds of issues require solid understanding of how this industry operates.

 

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Integration Challenges

Integration has been proven to pose a unique challenge for M&A in the media industry. One cannot simply plug and play a typical M&A process that works for other sectors. To win out, leadership needs to carefully evaluate the possibilities for value creation through integration, as well as any risks. This requires fastidious due diligence and effective communication. There must be a set of clearly defined goals. Cost and revenue synergies need to be properly valued. And retention of management is often critical to a successful integration strategy. When there is awareness of the potential integration pitfalls in media M&A deals, a plan can be formulated to help guard against them.

Contact Us

Are you planning on selling your company? Give us a call at Benchmark International to start the process. Our M&A experts can provide you with a comprehensive market analysis for your specific industry and arm you with exclusive information that will help you get your maximum value for your business.

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Leisure Industry in M&A

The global leisure industry is comprised of restaurants, bars, hotels, casinos, sports facilities, travel agencies, tour operators and other customer-focused business segments. This industry is subject to some very specific influential factors such as geopolitics, weather conditions, natural catastrophes, fuel costs, and changing consumer habits and demands. Technology also plays a key role in how people plan their activities and choose to experience them. This presents new opportunities for growth, and at the same time, new challenges.

M&A can be used as an effective solution for vertical integration to fill gaps across the value chain and to offer more efficient global platforms in the leisure industry
and its subsectors.

Opportunities and Challenges

The impacts of new technologies can be beneficial to businesses, but they also present new obstacles. The good news is that people are never going to stop wanting to enjoy themselves. It’s just a matter of how they go about it that faces significant changes.

 

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  • Sports Venues: With large and complicated physical infrastructures, sports facilities aim to attract more fans, fill more seats, and maximize returns. Technology aids in getting fans to engage more and spend more money both in person and from their devices. The Internet offers viewers immediate access to scores, stats and updates. While this can enhance sports venues’ offerings, there is also the challenge of competing with home entertainment systems that allow consumers to create their own fan experience in the comfort of their own homes.
  • Travel Agencies and Online Booking: There was a time when booking a vacation meant picking up the phone and calling your travel agent. But today, people turn to travel booking websites and apps to plan their trips, leading to overhauled business models. Online travel agents are looking to expand, increase their geographic reach, and be more integral to their customers’ experiences. Additionally, in the world of platforms such as Expedia, Kayak and Priceline, there remains little differentiation among brands, keeping the segment ripe for consolidation.
  • The Gaming Industry: The loosening of sports-betting regulations is driving change in the gaming industry. People are increasingly able to gamble online in various capacities, and while casinos are adopting strategies to capitalize on these opportunities, there is still the prospect of less foot traffic that would have transferred to more money spent on in-house dining and other in-person gambling options. This sector is prime for consolidations and partnerships.
  • Restaurants: Once a very brick-and-mortar focused sector, new technologies allow customers to opt for food delivery companies and apps to bring dinner to them rather than dining out at a physical restaurant location.
  • The Cruise Industry: Cybersecurity is an important concern within this sector, as more people spend more time on their connected devices while they enjoy their cruise vacation. Personalized data-driven technology improves the passenger experience, but it also requires more integration so that more systems can share more information.
  • Hotels: Web platforms such as airbnb have changed how people lodge on their vacations, moving tourism traffic from concentrated urban areas to more residential neighborhoods.
  • Amusement Parks: Consumers seek out unique and immersive experiences through their tech. Theme parks are creating new partnerships to cater to these demands, and seeking out novel ways to tap into new markets. These partnerships can be less capital intensive and give businesses flexibility to adapt to changing trends.

 

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Cross-Border M&A Considerations

Cross-border M&A transactions can involve several issues as political, cultural and economic environments evolve and regulations change. Certain due diligence factors should always be considered for these types of deals are expected to result in success stories.

  • Transaction framework: This involves careful evaluation of pricing (maximized value), timing, and certainty (public reputation and proof of funds)
  • Regulatory compliance: Focus oncybersecurity, foreign investment laws, national security laws, fraud, sanction violations, and money laundering
  • Antitrust and competition: This includes overlaps between brands, overlaps between operations, market concentration, and specific clearances
  • Technology and intellectual property: Thoroughly assess trademarks, domain names, IP rights, third-party licensing, existing claims, infrastructure, loyalty programs, data privacy laws, and databases

As with M&A transactions in any industry, there are several other areas that must be considered for due diligence and company valuation, including management agreements, financing, tax structures, employment issues, and other operational risks.

Contact Us

If you are thinking about selling your company, or would like to start exit planning, contact our M&A specialists at Benchmark International to start the process. We can help you understand your options and key factors for consideration, and get you on your way to a deal that works best for your vision of the future.

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A Trip Back in Time: M&A 20 Years Ago

The year was 1999. The world was transforming thanks to new technologies, and society was bracing for what Y2K and the millennium bug might bring. The popularity of the Internet was skyrocketing, and home computers were becoming a necessity rather than a luxury. Napster, Blackberry, Tivo, and Bluetooth were introduced. The "Melissa" E-mail Virus infected millions of computers and caused more than $80 million in damage globally. The Euro currency was established in 11 countries. The cost of a gallon of gas was $1.22. Bill Gates became the wealthiest man on earth, and Jeff Bezos was named Time Person of the Year. But what about the world of mergers and acquisitions twenty years ago?

1999 M&A in Review

The year 1999 was known as the year of the hostile deal. Strategic refocusing of companies was at an all-time high. Companies were motivated to act quickly to fend off larger rivals. The philosophy was that the bigger a company became, the more dominant it would be in the market.

  • Total worldwide mergers and acquisitions grew from $286.9 billion in 1991 to $3.2 trillion in 1999, with a total of 24,436 transactions that year.
  • Also in 1999, worldwide hostile deals reached more than $473 billion in dollar volume representing more than 14% of all announced worldwide deal value.
  • There were 9,192 M&A transactions valued at $1.4 trillion in the U.S alone, including 15 hostile deals valued at $112.7 billion.
  • Deals valued at over a billion dollars increased from 13 in 1991 to 194 in 1999.
  • There were 47 transactions valued at more than $10 billion worldwide in 1999.

 

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Making M&A History

Several of the biggest M&A deals in history took place in the years 1999 and 2000.

  • Vodafone AirTouch of Britain negotiated the hostile $183 billion merger of Mannesmann of Germany. This all-stock transaction set a record for a corporate takeover.
  • Also in 1999, Exxon and Mobil merged to become an energy industry superpower.
  • In January of 2000, America Online's announced the $165 billion purchase of Time Warner.
  • The same year, Pfizer acquired Warner-Lambert for $90 million, creating the second-largest drug company in the world.

These four deals are among the world's largest mergers of all time. 

Tech & Communications Revolution

The years of the mid to late 1990s were an economic game-changer. The tech and communications revolution certainly had a major impact on M&A activity. It stimulated the globalization of markets by improving cross-border communications and transactions, and it enhanced capabilities in modeling cash flows and structuring transaction scenarios. It also resulted in a boom in new business launches and the reimagining of established businesses.

1999 was the height of the Information Age, and the dot-com tech bubble was fatter than ever. Markets were booming. Dot-com startups were going public. Online shopping was becoming an actual thing. People were quitting their jobs to engage in full-time day trading and personal investing. We saw the rising popularity of online companies such as eBay, Amazon, Yahoo!, AOL, Match.com, and WebMD.

Of course, the bubble burst, leading to the early 2000s recession. Many online companies went under, and other major corporations lost a large portion of their market cap. Pets.com lost a whopping $1.75 trillion in value only nine months after its IPO.

Unfortunately, the dot-com crash also led to the telecoms market crash of 2001. Telecom providers over-invested in their networks, and mobile phone companies overspent on 3G licenses. The high levels of infrastructure investments were out of proportion to cash flow, and increased competition led many telecoms providers to slash prices for services, especially in the European market. Within one year, 100,000 jobs were lost in telecoms support and development across Europe.

Now vs. Then

The recession in the early 2000s cooled M&A activity for obvious reasons. The good news is that 2019 has actually been the most dynamic year for M&A activity since the year 2000, driven by a surge in North American deals. CEO confidence is on the rise, and investors are showing a willingness to take risks.

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Wind Power and M&A

Renewable energy transactions are on the rise as the demand for clean, sustainable energy grows around the world. Europe in particular has seen a surge in investments into wind power as big oil and gas companies try to shift to renewables. And there is significant competition in North America for high-priority assets. Both offshore and onshore wind investments are relatively safe as far as mergers and acquisitions because demand continues to rise in emerging markets as the worldwide weaning off of fossil fuels is certainly not going to happen overnight.

The wind energy industry is still relatively young to the world. There remains plenty of opportunity for technological and design advancements, as well as how they relate to financial possibilities. 

Offshore wind in particular has inherent benefits. Because it is located out at sea, the visual impacts are minimized. Also, wind tends to be stronger and more consistent at sea then it is on land. It is highly sustainable and highly predictable. Floating turbine foundations for deep-water locations are emerging and have already been successfully implemented in countries such as Norway, Japan and Portugal. 

 

 

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Wind and Large-Scale M&A

Wind power transactions dominate large-scale renewable mergers and acquisitions because of the sector’s economy of scale. The larger a windmill is, the more efficient it is. So, one big windmill is more efficient than two smaller windmills. This translates into large construction projects—an attribute that the industry likes to see. Large corporations with bold goals for renewable energy are buying an abundance of wind power.

Innovations in wind energy make it more affordable, setting the stage for demand and growth, especially for large corporations that need a great deal of power and are looking to save money. (Think about Amazon’s huge wind farm in Texas that has 100 turbines and can power 90,000 U.S. homes). This corporate need calls for large projects and contributes to why wind power dominates large-scale M&A.

The Role of Tax Equity Investments

The wind energy industry is also subject to tax equity investing—a very important part of financing in the sector and popular in the United States. Tax equity deals for renewable energy projects are common with private energy developers seeking to extend capital, and financial institutions wanting credits to ease their tax liability.This can make the environment more competitive.

How it works:

  • A tax equity investor and a developer create a holding company that owns the project's assets. The financial institution provides capital and in return gets tax benefits and cash distributions within the first 10 years of the project’s operation.
  • This allows the investor to recoup and earn on their investment.
  • Once the investment is recovered and tax credits captured, the ownership structure is reversed.
  • The developer is now the majority owner and can have the right to buy out the investor's remaining stake.
  • Therefore, the developer built a wind project for a small part of the installed cost in exchange for relinquishing the tax credits and cash distributions to the investor.

 

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Clean Energy M&A Expertise

Any energy M&A transaction requires a specialized level of expertise in order to avoid pitfalls that can blow a deal. Finding the right company broker is advised.

  • Knowledge of the industry and the nature of the markets are key
  • The ability to identify areas of risk is imperative with painstaking due diligence
  • Complex regulatory issues must be firmly understood. Laws and regulations in the energy industry go beyond the energy regulatory governance to include environmental, health, safety, tax, employee benefits and property issues
  • Cross-border transactions require global and local understanding of the market and the regulatory differences and how it plays into the company valuation

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Ready to make a move? Schedule a consultation with one of our M&A geniuses to see how we can help you sell a company, buy a company, create growth, or conduct exit planning.

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5 Things Sellers Wish They Had Known Before Selling Their Business

You’ve decided to sell your business. Congratulations! Whether you are retiring, looking to embark on a new business adventure, or wanting to hand off the reins and take a different role in the company, the process of selling a business can be a trying one without the correct preparation and support. Fortunately for you, you can learn from other entrepreneurs who have been in your shoes and have shared the five things that they wish they had known before selling their business.

1) Neglecting to perform pre-transaction wealth planning can result in you potentially leaving a lot of money on the table. Before you sell, consider your family members’ wishes and concerns. Communicating with family members before the sale can help ensure smooth sailing through the deal negotiations. Effective tax-planning to support family members’ needs, philanthropic plans, or creating family trusts can help increase the value gained from the transaction.

2) Don’t underestimate the importance of a good cultural fit with a buyer. While the price is always at the forefront of a sellers’ mind, cultural fit can mistakenly be pushed to the back burner. One of the many things that you have worked hard to create in your business is the employee culture. Most likely, you want to see the close-knit “family” that you have built continue when you are no longer working there. Benchmark International understands that and will help you find that partner. We remain committed along with you to your goal of finding a buyer who will carry on your legacy.

 

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3) Skimping on your marketing materials does not pay off in the long run. With confidentiality being of the utmost importance, how can you engage buyers without them knowing who you are? Preparing a high-quality, 1-2 page teaser that provides an anonymous profile of your business is the tool used to locate a buyer confidentially. This is followed by the Information Memorandum, with an NDA that is put in place for your protection. Benchmark International will prepare these high-quality documents and put your mind at ease.

4) Sellers wish they had known how detail-oriented the process would be, how many documents would be needed, and how labor-intensive each phase would be. One of the most crucial pieces of advice that the majority of sellers wish they had known is that you need to have a team. Sellers need to continue running their business as they were before, or operations can really start to slow. The last thing you want is for the value of your company to take a nosedive because you are investing all of your time into a transaction. With the team at Benchmark International as your partner dedicated to the M&A process, you will be free to continue to focus on the growth and operations of your business. We will handle the details for you.

5) Finding a like-minded partner can give a seller a false sense of security that the transition from two companies to one will be easy. You need a trusted advisor that will help you navigate the complexities of integration, giving you insight on some of the other intangibles that need to be negotiated. Those intangibles include the details of your role after the sale, employment contracts, earnouts, etc. With Benchmark International’s vast knowledge and experience in M&A deals, we know what is usual and customary to request throughout the negotiation process and will bring more value to your transaction.

Congratulations again, this is an exciting time for you! With the right partner, it can be a smooth and profitable process as well. Benchmark International has a team of specialists that arrange these types of deals every day. We can answer your questions and help you determine what is best for you, your business, and your exit plan. A simple phone call or email to us can start the process today and move you one step closer to accomplishing your goals.

 

Author
Amy Alonso 
Associate
Benchmark International

T: +1 615 924 8522
E: alonso@benchmarkcorporate.com

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