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SELLING A BUSINESS

Why an International Buyer May Be Best For You

When it's time to sell your business, there are good reasons not to limit yourself to U.S. buyers.

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Fewer than 20 years ago, most middle market mergers and acquisitions deals in the U.S. were done locally, or perhaps regionally.  International deals were reserved for very large companies and for corporations seeking to expand into international markets. 
 
Today the international mergers and acquisitions market has changed dramatically. Every day, middle market companies are being bought and sold internationally.  Why would you sell your company to a foreign acquirer, and what is the best way to promote the sale of your company in the international marketplace?
 
Recently, I attended the international mergers and acquisitions conference presented by Globalscope Partners. Globalscope includes 34 advisory firms located in 25 different countries.  Created to enhance the ability of individual members, Globalscope makes it easier and more efficient to market companies worldwide.
 
During the conference, I learned that CatCap, a German-based mergers and acquisitions firm, worked with Corbett Keeling, a London-based firm, to facilitate the sale of a IG Doors, a firm based in South Wales, to the German Hörmann Group, Europe’s market leader for doors and gates. This simple case illustrates that global partnerships create increased opportunities for both buyers and sellers.
 
Why would you sell your business to a foreign acquirer? Here are five quick reasons:
  • Identify more buyers If you limit your options to U.S. based companies, you have eliminated hundreds, if not thousands, of potential acquirers located in other countries. The world is your marketplace. Tap into its true potential.

  • Maximize your company value Sometimes the demand for a specific company or technology may be much greater outside the U.S. Therefore, foreign buyers may pay more to acquire technology, market share or a foothold in the U.S. market.

  • Expand the market for your products and services If you lack the capital to expand into international markets, selling a portion of your business to an international company achieves two objectives simultaneously. It launches your company into the international marketplace and it enables you to take some cash off the table to protect your future.

  • High demand for technology and special services Many U.S. businesses have developed high tech solutions and technology that may be commonplace in the U.S., but in high demand elsewhere.  The higher the demand for your products or services abroad, the more your company is worth.

  • World auction vs. local auction If you were selling something precious at an auction, would you prefer an auction restricted to local buyers or one open to buyers worldwide? That’s the power of marketing your business internationally. It can create greater demand, which equates to a higher valuation for your company. 
How do you ensure your business is marketed internationally when you are ready to sell?
  • Check international mergers and acquisitions networks Make sure the investment bank you are considering is part of an international network of with the capability to reach buyers worldwide.

  • Ask about international values Your business may be worth more on the international marketplace. Ask your banker to provide you with examples of both their domestic and international sales.

  • Confirm international marketing capability Ask your banker how they will market your business and confirm that it will include marketing to both domestic and international buyers.

Most business owners have invested a lifetime creating, managing and building their business. It may have started out in the garage, or with one truck, but through hard work and dedication their business has grown to be a success. 

At some point every business changes ownership.  If that change involves a sale of your company, ensure that you get a global perspective.  Remember: global partnerships produce unlimited opportunities.
Last updated: Nov 7, 2013

DAVID LONSDALE built and sold three venture-funded companies before becoming president and co-owner of Allegiance Capital in 2005, which provides M&A financial services to middle market business owners.
@MiddleMktMandA




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