The future of maple syrup production looks sweet. During a business transfer, financing is a crucial step which can often be accomplished via a liquidation.

Quebec proudly produces more than 100 million pounds of maple syrup each year, dominating the world production totalling 160 million pounds. This market has been evolving positively and the growth perspectives for coming years are very attractive. It’s no surprise that prosperous maple syrup businesses with state-of-the-art equipment are now highly coveted by buyers from here and abroad.

Solution for successful maple syrup business transfers

At the financing step, our experts have often used a well-planned liquidation as the solution for a successful maple syrup business transfer that takes both parties’ needs into consideration.

Sellers want to get the best price possible and deduct the maximum capital gain allowed, but they also want to retain control over the collection of their inventories held by the Fédération des producteurs acéricoles du Québec.

It’s not to the sellers’ advantage for the company to transfer inventories to them before the sale because they would be receiving a large amount at one time that could be taxed by up to 43.84%! From a tax point of view, sellers want to increase the share sale price for the current year’s inventories, but also for those of previous years, which will not be paid by the Fédération des producteurs acéricoles for several years to come. The share sale price would then be higher, and the same would apply for the capital gain deduction applicable.

As for buyers, they don’t want to finance sellers by giving them an amount equivalent to the amounts due by the Fédération, when they themselves will not receive these amounts for a long time to come. They also don’t want to continue managing transfers to the seller for years as they receive them while handling variances and additional fees, not to mention the associated litigation risks.

Inventories are therefore left with the company when the seller sells shares, but they will be given to the seller as payment for the company’s share sale price after the shares are sold. The seller will then receive the instalments directly from the Fédération.

To maximize the seller’s net after-tax cash and simplify the transition, sellers are allowed to collect, tax-free, a portion of the sale price corresponding to their inventories, up to a maximum of $1,000,000, i.e. the maximum capital gains deduction permitted. The same process may apply to other assets used in the business that the seller would like to keep.

Simplified administrative changes

The employer file and tax files with the governments and the Fédération des producteurs acéricoles du Québec belong to the company. All that’s needed is to simply change the manager’s name. Follow-ups are therefore easy since the files and identification numbers remain the same.

Every business and transfer situation is unique and requires tailored planning to obtain optimal results. We can structure a sales transaction that will enable both the seller and buyer to attain their objectives. Contact our team of experts who can help you plan the transfer of your maple syrup business.

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Francis Boucher
Partner | CPA, CA, CBV | Financial advisory

Updated on May 14, 2021

Are you planning to sell or buy a business? But what is its fair price? Make sure you have all the information you need to calculate its value.

More often than not, a business’s value is calculated using a general, strictly mathematical rule of thumb, but it’s not that simple.

For example, some people think all you have to do is multiply income by three, four or five. If you stop there, you could be in for trouble. Chances are high the buyer pays too much or the seller does not get a fair value for the shares or assets sold. Moreover, there is a significant tax risk in the context of a business transfer between related parties.

A business’s value and risk level

Consider for example, two barber shops located on the same street. They generate the same profit and have the same yield. So why should one of them be worth more than the other?

The primary reason is the individual risk of the two businesses. In fact, it is a business’s risk level that determines the multiple used to calculate its value as a going concern. For a risk of 20%, a multiple of 5 is used to calculate earnings (1 divided by 20%).

Even if it is only to be well prepared for a business purchase or acquisition, it’s important to qualify, justify and document the business risk appropriately. This will have a significant impact on the value of your company.

Identifying the risk level

For an entrepreneur, knowing the risk level and how to reduce it can significantly increase the business’s value. This does not even involve increasing sales!

There are numerous risk factors. The main ones include:

• location;
• reputation;
• presence of successors and key employees;
• degree of dependence on certain customers and suppliers.

There are over a hundred risk factors to consider, some of which are industry specific.

Whether you’re a seller or a buyer, assessing business risk is a key component in calculating the business’s value.

If you’ve ever watched Dragon’s Den, you’ve probably noticed that the Dragons ask a lot of questions. They’re trying to assess the business risk and find an appropriate multiple based on a number of qualitative factors.

Avoiding valuation errors

Calculating a business’s risk premium is the most difficult step that requires specialized expertise. If you don’t have a Dragon’s financial skills, consider calling on a professional with business valuation expertise.

And if you hear someone use a general rule like “My business is worth three times income” or “it’s worth $X per customer”, don’t hesitate to pass on this article!


19 Oct 2018  |  Written by :

Francis Boucher is a Financial Advisor expert at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton.

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Jean-François Fortin
Partner | CPA, CA | Assurance

Are you thinking about expanding your dairy farm to increase profits? Be aware that healthy growth does not necessarily mean the size of the herd.

A dairy herd that produces 20 litres of milk per day could prove more profitable than a herd that produces 30 litres. How can this be?

The prolific cow enigma

Farm A (Prolific Cow), has a 40-kilo milk quota and a herd that produces an average of 19 litres per day, generating net income of $2,867 per kilo.

Farm B (Generous Cow), with 160 kilos and an average of 32 litres per day only generated $651 per kilo.

What’s the key to the enigma?

A key factor is balancing costs incurred and the resulting production. There are three indicators:

• Labour costs;
• Feed costs;
• Veterinary costs.

In Farm A’s case, these three amounts total $2,000 per kilo, whereas in Farm B’s case, they are over $3,600 per kilo.

In both cases, the other expense items, interest and maintenance costs, are almost equivalent.

Naturally, a large efficient farm operation can generate significant earnings, but only if the three parameters are properly controlled.

Growth vs. profitability

If you’re considering growing your business, remember that growth at any cost is not necessarily a good idea. It’s important to undertake an in-depth reflection and ask the right questions before making a major investment.

A farm producer must be an excellent manager and a skilled technician to maximize profitability. Additionally, you should set your priorities:

• Will sales go up and at what cost?
• Will this reduce certain necessary expenses?
• How will this impact my quality of life?

This analysis is an essential prerequisite. Our experienced team can support you in conducting the evaluation and help you strike the right balance.

18 Oct 2018  |  Written by :

Jean-François is an assurance expert at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton. Contact him today!

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Gaston Fournier
Manager | M.A., CHRP | Human resources consulting

The acquisition of a farm business requires a significant time investment. This is why transferring a farm must be well planned and carried out progressively.

More than 7,500 active young farmers in Quebec and recent studies show that the young agricultural successors are better educated. More than 80% have a post-secondary diploma.

Being optimistic is great, but a successful generational transfer, whether of a family farm or selling to an unrelated third party, will take at least five years in the planning and must be carried out gradually.

To guide you towards success, our team of experts proposes a seven-step business transfer.

1. Drafting a portrait of the situation

The level of preparation for the transfer and successor is of the utmost importance. Sometimes during this step owners have a hard time dealing with the idea of selling their business. Accordingly, an analysis of the different options available to transferors and transferees, including the timetable, will and testament, list of partners involved in the transfer and succession planning, can provide them with strategic support in this process.

At this step, experts such as tax specialists, legal advisors, industrial psychologists and management and asset management consultants will determine the coaching needs.

2. Mobilizing the strategic players

A “project manager” should then be appointed who will coordinate and mobilize the multidisciplinary team of specialists involved based on the diversity of the transfer issues (tax, strategic, human, legal, etc.).

The commitment of key resource people is a key factor in the success of the transfer, but the significance of employees, clients or suppliers should not be forgotten. A clear communication plan will ensure a smooth transition.

3. Analyzing financial needs and financial capabilities

The next step is to analyze the different transfer scenarios available to transferors and to consider the various possible financing options for the transferee. This is where the transferor’s active role within the business will be assessed (progressive withdrawal, mentoring, cohabitation, etc.). The transferor’s post-transfer objectives and financial needs will also be defined.

As for the transferor, a financial plan considering the main current and future priorities will be developed taking into account various options such as loans, lease-purchase, subsidies, succession funding and programs, etc.

4. Thinking strategically

During this step, you need to think about the future of your business and the successors’ needs. A strategic plan will help determine your business’s objectives and the means for attaining them.

Furthermore, you need to establish the business’s market value and determine the governance, which includes the board of directors, management committee, transferee’s mentoring plan, etc.

5. Analyzing and understanding the tax aspects of the transaction

In a business transfer situation, it is imperative to analyze certain tax aspects such as:

  • The business’s value;
  • Possible transfer methods;
  • Shareholders’ agreement;
  • Insurance coverage;
  • Estate and will planning.

Based on the transfer method chosen, experts will be able to guide you to minimize the tax expenses.

6. Searching for financing

Depending on the stakeholders’ objectives, this is when financing strategies are explored, that is to say, choosing the payment method (down payments, instalment payments, share purchase program, dividend payment, financing from the transferee, etc.).

Consultants can also help you with the planning and negotiation of your financing based on the transferee’s business plan. Key elements such as the successor’s determination, financial assumptions and the calculation of acceptable ratios will then be assessed.

7. Carrying out the transfer

After implementing the transfer scenario selected and obtaining the financing, the transferees will have to set up mechanisms that will help ensure the business’s continuation as a going concern and get the transfer started. At this step, they will see to:

  • implementing the transition structure;
  • sharing the responsibilities;
  •  drafting the successors’ development plan;
  • adapting the management style.

Remember: a successful transfer relies on a multidisciplinary team to support you and a long-term plan.

17 Oct 2018  |  Written by :

Mr. Frounier is a manager at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton. He is your expert in human resources...

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