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Rising Interest Rates – How Does This Affect the Sale of My Business?

Most business owners have become acutely aware of how a change in interest rates can impact their financing decisions.  Whether it means taking advantage of a competitive rate and refinancing previous notes or whether it means holding off on acquiring a needed piece of equipment until the monthly payment becomes more manageable; the interest rate associated with obtaining debt can play a major role in the decisions a business owner makes in the day-to-day operations of their company.  But, how do interest rates impact the sale of a business?  Is there a correlating relationship between interest rates and activity in the M&A market?  If there is, what is the importance of timing the sale of a business based on the indications provided by the Federal Reserve?  All of these questions are important to consider as a business owner begins to contemplate the potential sale of their company.

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The Federal Reserve has indicated that it is planning on increasing interest rates as it is continuing to pull back from its decade-long effort to stimulate economic growth.  As of November, 2018, the Wall Street Journal Prime Rate was 5.25% whereas one year prior it was 4.25%.  This metric is important as it consists of a survey of the 30 largest banks and is the rate at which banks will lend money to their most credit worthy customers; additionally, this rate will move up or down in lock step with changes made by the Federal Reserve Board.  So, what does this mean for those who are in the market to sell their business?  An increase in the federal funds rate increases the cost of borrowing and hence affects the value of merger deals, especially if a portion of the transaction is being financed through loans.  If the company to be acquired is highly leveraged and the cost of debt goes up, the internal rate of return is impacted, lowering the valuation of the company. 

The timing of when a business enters the open market for sale as well as the speed at which interest rates rise also plays a role in the impact that interest rates have on activity in the M&A market.  A methodical rise combined with a strengthening economy, which the United States has experienced over the past 18 months, should not have a detrimental impact on the aggressiveness with which buyers enter the acquisition market.  The reason that a controlled and steady increase in interest rates mitigates the risk associated with increased cost of debt has to do with the corresponding increase in corporate confidence.  With interest rates having been at historical lows over the past several years, many companies in the market to buy are armed with strong balance sheets earned via normal operations of the business as well as having taken advantage of low market interest rates to issue debt.  This cash held on the balance sheets of acquirers in the market may deflect some of the increase in borrowing cost due to the availability of deployable capital.  Specifically addressing those sellers looking to sell a business in the middle to lower middle market space – a slow rise in rates will give them an opportunity to cash out and use this new-found liquidity to put their money back to work in a recovering and dynamic market. 

In conclusion, the general consensus is that rising interest rates aren’t going to put a damper on mergers and acquisitions activity, at least not in the near-term.  However, as interest rates continue to increase, there will come a time when the increased cost of borrowing shifts the economics of valuation and activity.  The buyers most affected by the increase in rate will be those that rely heavily on financing through loans to complete an acquisition.  Fortunately for sellers, interest rates being at historical lows has helped buyers compile large amounts of cash on their balance sheet which, when combined with acquirer confidence in the business and consumer marketplace, a taxation environment that can be viewed as business friendly, the ideal conditions for selling begin to take shape.  It is important to take note that an increase in interest rates does not have as large of an immediate impact as the speed at which those interest rates increase.  As the Federal Reserve continues to be relatively transparent with their intentions regarding gradually increasing interest rates, and with firms having taken advantage of historically low interest rates and compiling large amounts of cash on the balance sheet, the ideal time to sell a business, particularly one in the lower middle market space, will be sooner rather than later.  As time goes on and increased rates continue to take a bite out of returns on investment, there will come a time when the balance will shift from a sellers’ market to one that is in favor of the buyer.

 

Author
JP Santos 
Senior Deal Associate
Benchmark International
Ready to explore your exit and growth options?

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

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View Our Exclusive US Opportunities

Benchmark International has been engaged as the exclusive sell-side broker for international companies across all industries. However, in this PDF, we are showcasing our Featured US Opportunities.

If you find the teasers you would like to see, please contact Garrett Spek at Spek@BenchmarkCorporate.com or call 813-898-2373 and provide the six digit 
alphanumeric code.

All of these clients have retained Benchmark International as their exclusive broker and we are not co-brokering any of them so if you have seen them elsewhere, we are the source. That said, we appreciate your passing this list on to any and all serious buyers you may know of.

Featured US Opportunities PDF

Benchmark sells over 100 businesses every year, many involving cross-border deals. If you have specific acquisition interests, please email your criteria to acquirerupdate@benchmarkcorporate.com.  You can also let us know if you would like to sign up to receive future opportunity marketing emails.

Beyond this list, we also have EmbraceBenchmark.com, which showcases a complete listing of our US opportunities.

Looking to Aquire an Exclusive Opportunity in the Americas?
Contact Kendall Stafford at Stafford@BenchmarkCorporate.com

Looking to Acquire an Exclusive Opportunity in Europe?
Contact Bhavina Halai at Halai@BenchmarkCorporate.com

Looking to Acquire an Exclusive Opportunity in Africa?
Contact Andre Bresler at Bresler@BenchmarkCorporate.com 

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Webinar Video: Now That the Valuation is Set, Here's Where You Will Win or Lose the Deal

 

 

M&A Webinar: Now that the Valuation is Set, Here’s Where You will Win or Lose the Deal

Many sellers think they have reached the finish line once the buyer has been selected or perhaps when the letter of intent is executed. Even those who know they haven’t reached that line often believe all key elements of the transaction have been ironed out and all that remains is the “technical” part. To better understand many of the material issues that remain open after the letter of intent is executed, this webinar will walk participants through a wide array of those open issues. 

  1. Stock versus asset deals, which is really better?
  2. Tax elections = dirty words
  3. Monetizing the real estate portion
  4. Protecting yourself with employment and consulting agreements
  5. Seller notes and earn outs – never say never
  6. Escrows, who needs them?
  7. Winning the net working capital fight
  8. Your indemnification of the acquirer
  9. How the disclosure schedules protect you
  10. Can reps and warranties insurance assist you?
  11. The inevitable non-competes
  12. Meet the Grim Reaper of your sale process- Delays

You can also watch it here on Vimeo:
https://vimeo.com/282908864

Hosted By:
Clinton Johnston
Managing Director
Benchmark International

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Benchmark International Completes Sale of Fast of Florida, Inc to Southern Air & Heat Holdings

International M&A specialist, Benchmark International, has successfully negotiated the sale of its client, FAST of Florida, Inc. (“FAST”) to Southern Air & Heat (“Southern HVAC”), a portfolio company of MSouth Equity Partners, an Atlanta-based private equity firm.

Based in Clearwater, Florida, FAST is a leading provider of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), plumbing and electrical sales, installation, and maintenance services to the residential and commercial markets. In 1972, the company was established as a small air conditioning repair shop by Eddie Vaughan. Eddie’s wife, Melissa, joined the company in the early 1980’s, assisting with administrative duties and bookkeeping. As the company grew, FAST evolved to expand its service offerings in order to remain competitive and add additional revenue streams. In 2005, Mr. Vaughan passed away after a long illness, and Melissa assumed ownership of the business. Under Mrs. Vaughan’s leadership, FAST has continued to experience tremendous growth while continuing to offer the same level of quality service the company was built upon. Today, the company employs nearly 50 people serving Pinellas County, Florida and the surrounding markets.

 

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Headquartered in Orlando, Florida, Southern Air & Heat is a leading provider of essential maintenance, repair, replacement and new installation services for the residential and commercial HVAC markets. Currently, the Company serves over 100,000 homeowners across its target markets. Southern HVAC is financially backed by MSouth Equity Partners, a private equity investment firm that provides equity capital and expertise to support management teams of lower middle market companies. Founded in 2007, MSouth manages $1.3 billion with three active funds, and is the successor to Cravey, Green & Wahlen, which was founded in 1984.

President of FAST, Melissa Vaughan, stated, “Benchmark International played an instrumental role in helping me to exit my family legacy business gracefully. The team did an outstanding job of marketing my business toward motivated buyers, and ultimately finding the perfect fit in Southern HVAC. I would like to thank the Benchmark transaction team for the extraordinary effort in making this transaction a reality.”

“Our focus was to find the acquirer that shared FAST’s passion and commitment to providing a personalized level of service while retaining the culture that Melissa has worked so hard to preserve,” said Trevor Talkie, Senior Associate at Benchmark International. “FAST is a compelling addition to MSouth’s growing HVAC platform, and we are truly honored to have worked alongside Melissa and her team toward this successful outcome.”

Tyrus O’Neill, Director at Benchmark International added, “After the journey Melissa has been through, we’re happy to see the process reach an ideal end result. On behalf of Benchmark International, I’d like to wish both parties the best of luck moving forward.”

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