Martin Deschênes
Partner | CPA, CA | Financial advisory

Are you looking to stimulate the growth of your SME by acquiring another business? Now that’s an exciting project! However, in order to reap the benefits, it’s best not to skip steps and seek out the guidance of expert advisors throughout the entire process.

Do you think you know all about the business in question? Do you feel the need to act fast because you’re scared of missing out on a unique opportunity? Be careful: there could be skeletons in this business’s closet or the salesperson’s statements could be false; to find out the truth, a thorough due diligence should be performed. You wouldn’t want any nasty post-transaction surprises!

Another determining aspect of a successful transaction: the integration of the acquired business’s activities and employee engagement, because while the purchase may be complete, the work is not.

Here are five tips for success to reducing risks to a minimum and getting the most out of your investment when acquiring a business.
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1. Letter of intent to purchase

The purpose of this document is to serve as a basis for negotiations, without being a formal offer to purchase. Rather, it is a commitment between two parties to negotiate in good faith. As a buyer, you’re stating your intention to acquire the business according to certain conditions that were discussed in preliminary discussions.

The letter of intent establishes in particular:

  • The sales price and possible adjustments;
  • Assets included in the transaction and liabilities assumed;
  • Terms of payment and certain representations and warranties.

It is essential, as of this step, to properly establish the terms and conditions of the transaction. Do not under-estimate the importance of this document.

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2. Due diligence

This too is a crucial step. When properly executed, with the help of specialists, it allows you to know just exactly what you’re purchasing.

Due diligence provides you with a detailed look at the financial, tax, legal and operational aspects of the organization involved, as well as the main transaction risks.

Among other things, it helps validate information provided by the seller and protect you from unpleasant surprises. It also helps detect any of the acquired entity’s business issues and those relating to the integration of activities (obsolete computer systems, possible departure of key employees, etc.).

This verification process can certainly be demanding, but trust me when I say: all those entrepreneurs who took the time to do this step don’t regret it. Moreover, due diligence can sometimes help lower the purchase price.

3. The purchase agreement

You now have an accurate idea of the business you want to buy. You’re ready to sign a purchase agreement containing the conditions and warranties that will protect you from various risks, in particular, those detected during due diligence. For example, you can include in the agreement indemnity, confidentiality, non-solicitation and non-competition clauses.

Plan ahead: a well detailed purchase agreement prepared by an expert can help you save a lot of money and offer you adequate protection from the most significant risks.

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4. Achieving synergies

We’re not done yet! There’s still much work to be done for the transaction to yield the desired results.

As a matter of fact, you need to implement a well-prepared integration plan. Do it quickly: integration should not take more than two years to produce the expected synergies.

Make sure to properly merge the operation method and the information technologies of both businesses. Often, incompatible IT systems can be a costly failure.

Carefully analyze how things are done within the purchased company. Perhaps certain corrections need to be made, but the best practices could be deployed within your group.

You might also want to involve the people in charge of the transition as early as the due diligence step to enable them to get a better understanding of quick integration issues pertaining to the process.

5. Employee engagement

The success of your integration plan depends on your employees’ engagement. After all, they will be the ones to implement it!

Engage all of your employees by sharing your vision and the values you hold dear, in order to create one common business culture. Explain your objectives and how you intend to attain these goals.

Furthermore, provide your key employees, including those from the acquired business, with advancement opportunities. This is one of the best ways to motivate them.

The HUMAN aspect is a key factor behind every successful acquisition.

Are you thinking about acquiring a business? Don’t hesitate to contact our experts. They will be more than pleased to assist you in this major step of the growth of your business.

22 Feb 2018  |  Written by :

Mr. Deschênes is a partner at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton. He is your expert in Transaction...

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