If you're thinking about selling your business -- or, alternatively, about making an acquisition -- the world is teeming with business brokers who, for a price, are dying to help. But for people who don't mind getting heavily involved in the process themselves, a broker may be superfluous. Through published and on-line listings, you may, in fact, be able to complete deals without paying the customary transaction fees of up to 5% of the sale price.
FirstList (phone: 800-999-0920), published quarterly with four additional updates a year, typically has per-issue listings of around 300 companies for sale, and about half that many potential buyers. To a lesser extent, it also lists financing sources as well as joint-venture and licensing opportunities. Subscribers -- private investors, corporations, and merchant and investment bankers -- get the catalogs, which are organized by industry, for $350 a year, and they're entitled to 30 free listings in any one issue. To follow up on leads, readers can call the publisher's toll-free number or send a fax to ask for additional information.
World M&A Network (202-628-6900), owned by International Executive Reports, in Washington, D.C., offers a similar service. Its quarterly catalog of buyers and sellers is priced at $345 a year, with monthly supplements available for an extra $50 a year. The network also has a new, on-line information service.
For those seeking to buy or sell a company primarily in the Northeast -- or simply to locate capital -- another source of leads is Search (203-272-0631), published by the Cromwell Group, in Cheshire, Conn. The publication sends out listings of about 200 companies six times a year for $325. "For sale" listings are free; want ads are $50 apiece.* * *