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This is a special episode discussing how to build successful business relationships. In this episode, Gina Cocking, is joined by featured guest Willard Bunn, a managing director at Colonnade Advisors. Willard has previously served as chairman, chief executive, and director of several commercial banks. He has held numerous board positions and has extensive experience as an investment banker. Willard has the ability to build deep relationships with potential clients and industry professionals, resulting in seemingly effortless marketing.
One of the key takeaways from this episode is that trust is a critical factor in building a successful business relationship.

In this episode, Willard addresses the following questions as related to building business relationships:
Before you meet somebody for the first time, do you do any special preparation beforehand? (02:02)
Willard: "Yes, there is so much information available on LinkedIn and other sources. When I meet people for the first time, I will search for them and extract what I can. It's helpful when you show up at a luncheon table to know who exactly you're talking to."

How do you prepare when you don't know you're going to meet a person? For example, when attending conferences with hundreds of people in a room. (03:11)
Willard: "I have found the best icebreaker has always been to ask. ‘What is your business? What do you do?’ Because there is nobody on the planet who doesn't want to talk about his or her business. Once you get that laid out, then you know where to go with the next question."

Once you have met a person and chatted for a few minutes, how do you continue with that relationship? What type of follow-ups do you do? (03:57)
Willard: "Normally, the follow-up would be an email of some sort. In the email, try to grab onto something in the conversation because that person has met a lot of people that evening, too."

How soon do you generally follow-up with someone that you have met? (04:53)
Willard: "I try to follow up quickly with an email, so the image is still in their mind. I also think it's helpful to attach something to the email. For example, for Colonnade's marketing, attaching a podcast episode or white paper would be helpful because it gives them an idea of who you are and the company."

Do you have any strategies for cold calling or emailing people? (04:53)
Willard: "If you are reaching out to someone for the first time, it is a good idea to attach a piece of work that you have done. For people that you're in touch with regularly, it is a good idea to attach a current update to the piece of work. This kind of process can stretch over the years. Building these relationships take time."

When you do outreach and do not get a response, how long do you wait before you reach out to somebody again? What strategy is there without making the person feel guilty but reminding them that you're there? (08:19)
Willard: "These are situational. I think once a quarter is probably sufficient time to give some downtime, but not to let it lapse either."

What are other successful maintaining relationship strategies have you encountered? (09:21)
Willard: "When I was running a bank, I was the target for investment bankers, and one of the bankers would send a non-business book every Christmas. I always thought that was a good way to keep in touch via a non-aggressive Christmas present."

How do you prioritize maintaining relationships with people? (11:35)
Willard: "One of the things that I noticed in the investment banking business was the bifurcation of time. When you get busy with current active deals, how do you simultaneously keep in touch with prospects? It's like everything else in life, you have the work you have to do right now in front of you, but you also have a list on the side of prospects. Communication now is much easier than ten years ago, which makes reaching out to prospects to keep in touch much easier."

How do you reach out to people that you have not interacted with much? (13:26)
Willard: "During non-COVID times, Chicago offered various events that allow people to meet. One medium that I have used in the past was the speaker dinners at the Economic Club. It gives you an informal, non-threatening environment to try to further a relationship."

How do you build trust in a relationship? (15:18)
Willard: "That is an important concept. People hire you because they trust you and feel you understand their business. It is hard to know what triggers trust. In my particular case, on the investment banking side, the people we represented, I knew well over several years. When you see how people behave in restaurants with waiters, how they behave on the golf course, and all that kind of stuff, that adds up to form a standpoint that I know this person and trust them, particularly, I can trust them to tell me the truth."

Gina: "We also talked about how follow-ups after meeting a person can build trust. It's a good way to start building trust."

What is one way to distinguish yourself when following up with business prospects? (18:39)
Willard: "You distinguish yourself by actually doing something you said you were going to do. It is super simple, but not everybody does that."

How often do you use handwritten notes, and when and why do you do that? (19:45)
Willard: "In meaningful situations, I think a handwritten note is a very nice idea. It shows a little extra effort."

Gina: "When I left Discover Financial Services, I wrote some of my colleagues handwritten notes a few days before I left. Then, I noticed several people had my note in their cubicles. I think because it was an unusual thing. People kept it and remembered it."

What are your thoughts on postcards? (21:26)
Willard: "Postcards are a very nice thing to send to people because it lets them know you're thinking of them in out of the way places."

We all have limited hours in a day; how do you politely decline someone who reaches out to you, but you may not be in the best position to have a conversation with them? (23:00)
Willard: "If someone wants your opinion about something, that is a nice compliment, so you don't want to seem ungrateful. If time is limited, tell the truth that it isn't anything you want to get involved with right now."

Do you have any advice for people who are starting their careers and starting to build professional relationships? (25:31)
Willard: "I'll give a piece of advice that I got from my father-in-law. When I was working in New York in the 70s, he advised me that I should get out every day and have lunch with somebody, and I did. Some of those lunches have led to great business ideas. My main point is to make sure you are out there seeing people, and lunch is a good time to do it."

Featured guest bio and contact information:

Willard Bunn III
Email: wbunn@coladv.com

Willard Bunn III joined Colonnade Advisors as a Managing Director in 2012. Willard has served as chairman, chief executive, and/or director of several commercial banks in the course of his 40-year career. Willard's long career in the banking industry began at Chemical Bank in New York before returning to Springfield in 1978 to serve as Executive Vice President and eventually Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Marine Corporation, a multibank holding company with $1.2 billion of assets. Following Marine's merger with Banc One, Willard was appointed Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Banc One Illinois Corporation, which he held until 1994. Willard went on to serve in various management positions with two investment banking firms. Willard served as a Director of Baytree Bank of Lake Forest, Illinois, from its founding in 2000 and as Chairman of the Bank from April 2010 to August 2012. Willard serves on the Board of Directors of CIB Marine Bancshares, Inc., a bank holding company based in Waukesha, Wisconsin, that operates banking offices in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. He also serves on the Boards of Midland National Life Insurance Company and North American Company for Life and Health Insurance, insurance subsidiaries of the Sammons Financial Group. In addition, Willard is Chairman of the Board for the Poetry Foundation, a literary organization, and a Poetry magazine publisher. He serves as an advisory director of Chicago-based Campus2Career Transition Services and a member of The Banc Funds Company's valuation committee. Willard holds a BA from Princeton University and an MBA from the University of Virginia. In addition, he has the Series 79 securities license.

Host Information
Gina Cocking
Gina Cocking serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Colonnade Advisors. She returned to Colonnade as a Managing Director in 2014. Gina began her career in investment banking at Kidder Peabody, was an analyst at Madison Dearborn Partners, and an associate at J.P. Morgan & Co. She was a Vice President at Colonnade Advisors from 1999 to 2003. She left Colonnade to gain operating experience as the Chief Financial Officer of Cobalt Finance, a specialty finance company. She went on to become the Chief Financial Officer of Healthcare Laundry Systems, a private equity-backed company for which she oversaw the successful sale to a strategic acquirer. Gina served as the Line of Business CFO – Consumer Banking and Lending at Discover Financial Services. Gina serves on the Board of Directors of CIB Marine Bancshares, Inc., a bank holding company based in Brookfield, Wisconsin, that operates banking offices in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Gina received her BA in Economics and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Additionally, Gina holds the Series 24, 28, 79, and 99 securities licenses.
Jeff Guylay
Jeff Guylay is a Managing Director of Colonnade Advisors. Prior to joining Colonnade in 2000, Jeff was an investment banker at J.P. Morgan in the firm's Mergers & Acquisitions and Fixed Income Capital Markets groups in New York. He also spent several years in J.P. Morgan's Chicago office. Jeff has over 20 years of M&A and investment banking experience and has served as lead execution partner on over 25 M&A and financing transactions at Colonnade. Jeff received an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a Master of Engineering Management from the University's McCormick School of Engineering. Jeff received a BA from Dartmouth College and a BE from Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering. Jeff holds the Series 7, 24, 63, and 79 securities licenses. Jeff serves as a director of the non-profit Nurture, an organization dedicated to enhancing the nutrition and wellness of children and families.
About the Middle Market Mergers & Acquisitions Podcast
Get the insiders' take on mergers and acquisitions. M&A investment bankers Gina Cocking and Jeff Guylay of Colonnade Advisors discuss the technical aspects of and tactics used in middle market deals. This podcast offers actionable advice and strategies for selling your company and is aimed at owners of middle market companies in the financial services and business services sectors. Middle market companies are generally valued between $20 million and $500 million.

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    This episode continues our series of "industry spotlights," in which we focus on specific trends and opportunities in middle market M&A transactions. This episode kicks off several episodes around the finance and insurance ("F&I") products industry, estimated at $80+ billion in size at the retail level. Specifically, this episode is all about vehicle service contract ("VSC") administrators.   Colonnade has extensive transaction experience in the automotive F&I products industry and has been on the sell side or buy side M&A advisor on many of the significant F&I products transactions that have taken place over the last decade. These transactions are complex and require an investment banking team with deep industry knowledge. Colonnade has insider-level mastery of the drivers of valuation, competitive positioning, business trends, relevant metrics, and the right buyer universe, enabling us to provide superior deal execution to our clients. In this episode, we answer the following questions: What is a VSC? What types of car problems are covered under a VSC, and how does it differ from car insurance coverage? What is the F&I products ecosystem? What are the economics of a VSC? What is the value of VSCs to consumers? Who are the major players in the VSC administrator industry? What are the consolidation trends in the VSC administrator industry?  How are VSC administrator companies valued?     What is a VSC? (02:30)   Gina Cocking:  A VSC is like a warranty but cannot be legally called a warranty. OEMs can only offer warranties. Essentially, a VSC is covering any mechanical failures on a vehicle, which can range from problems with the engine, electronics, windows, and others.   What types of car problems are covered by VSCs? (02:38)   Gina Cocking: Different VSCs cover different car problems. Some have full coverage, and others are more limited. 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There is an expense associated with purchasing a CLIP, so an administrator that vertically integrates with an insurance company will take out some of the expense in the cost structure and recognize some synergies.   The number one driver of M&A activity in the industry is private equity firms, which have been investing in the F&I products sector for over ten years because of the dynamics of the industry. Favorable industry dynamics include large industry size, industry growth, high margins, and high cash flow. Private equity firms often acquire an administrator then make add-on acquisitions to increase distribution and recognize synergies in the expense chain by taking out a layer of the cost structure.   How are VSC administrator companies valued? (24:51)   Gina Cocking: Administrators are valued, typically not on GAAP, but modified cash accounting basis. GAAP accounting matches expenses and revenues with the life cycle of the product. Under modified cash accounting, revenues are recognized at the time of sale because these products are rolled into an auto loan, and the administrator gets payment upfront. The expense associated with reserve for future claims and the CLIP, all the contract-related expenses, are recognized at the time of sale. For a growing business under modified cash, earnings will be higher than under GAAP accounting.   There is real value to the insurance funds in the trust to pay for future claims for an administrator obligor. The products are structured to a certain loss ratio, which is claims divided by the premiums remitted to the trust. Income from the trust should be included in the value of the company.   Other drivers of value in this industry include geographic reach, concentration with dealership groups, and size. Client concentration is important because most private equity firms will not invest in a company if greater than 15% or 20% of its revenues come from a single source.  Size matters because bigger companies are worth more than smaller companies.       Host Information   Gina Cocking Gina Cocking serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Colonnade Advisors. She returned to Colonnade as a Managing Director in 2014. Gina began her career in investment banking at Kidder Peabody, was an analyst at Madison Dearborn Partners, and an associate at J.P. Morgan & Co. She was a Vice President at Colonnade Advisors from 1999 to 2003. She left Colonnade to gain operating experience as the Chief Financial Officer of Cobalt Finance, a specialty finance company. She went on to become the Chief Financial Officer of Healthcare Laundry Systems, a private equity-backed company for which she oversaw the successful sale to a strategic acquirer. Gina served as the Line of Business CFO – Consumer Banking and Lending at Discover Financial Services. Gina serves on the Board of Directors of CIB Marine Bancshares, Inc., a bank holding company based in Brookfield, Wisconsin, that operates banking offices in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Gina received her BA in Economics and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Additionally, Gina holds the Series 24, 28, 79, and 99 securities licenses.   Jeff Guylay Jeff Guylay is a Managing Director of Colonnade Advisors. Prior to joining Colonnade in 2000, Jeff was an investment banker at J.P. Morgan in the firm's Mergers & Acquisitions and Fixed Income Capital Markets groups in New York. He also spent several years in J.P. Morgan's Chicago office. Jeff has over 20 years of M&A and investment banking experience and has served as lead execution partner on over 25 M&A and financing transactions at Colonnade. 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    MM M&A 017 - Pick Your Partner - The Exclusivity Phase

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    We are excited to focus today’s episode on the final phase of our unique 16-week sales process. Today we are focused on phase four: exclusivity/documentation. We invite you to listen to episode 001 for more information about phase one (pre-marketing), episode 002 for more information about phase two (go to market), and episode 0016 for more information about management meetings: https://www.coladv.com/podcasts/002/ Other episodes dive deep into technical aspects and tactics used in middle market and mergers and acquisitions. We also invite you to download our 16-week sales process timeline for more information on how Colonnade Advisors typically approaches the process of selling a company: https://coladv.com/wp-content/uploads/Four-Phases-with-graphic.pdf In our deep-dive discussion on exclusivity/documentation, the word “scary” comes up quite a few times. Rather than being scary from a horror film or haunted house, this scary is more like cold feet before a wedding. That’s because exclusivity/documentation is when you pick your partner and take a leap of faith with a single buyer. You’ll learn that in this phase of the sales process, we are not yet on the homestretch. In fact, our discussion unveils the many challenges of this phase of the sales process that must be simultaneously and actively managed. You’ll hear that this phase of the sales process almost feels like a crescendo. Our job at Colonnade is to manage this increasing set of workstreams and pull off a successfully closed deal. Then, as you’ll hear in the podcast episode, it’s time to celebrate. Key topics covered in this episode: • Preparing for the shift of power from seller to buyer • The importance of the letter of intent ("LOI") negotiations • How to select the winner (while keeping others warm in the background) • Who’s involved during the exclusivity/documentation phase • How long the process takes, and how much it costs • Pitfalls that we have encountered during this phase and how Colonnade mitigates these risks with our clients What is the exclusivity and documentation phase, and how do you get up to this point? (01:07) Gina: "This phase occurs when a seller is exclusive with a single buyer—we have received several bids and determined the winner. Both parties sign an LOI at this phase, and the seller agrees not to provide information or engage with any other potential buyers. The seller is essentially going off the market, which can be a bit scary because if the deal does not move forward with the exclusive buyer for some reason, then we will have to go back to the other bidders." What tasks need to be completed during the exclusivity and documentation phase? (02:11) Gina: "During exclusivity and documentation phase, we work through the confirmatory due diligence, which often involves a buy-side quality of earnings report. Also, during this period, we negotiate, finalize and execute the definitive purchase agreements and work through any related regulatory tasks to close." Is it possible for sellers to go through the exclusivity and documentation phase with multiple potential buyers? (03:18) Jeff: "In large transactions, it is possible to run multiple parties through this phase, but it typically does not happen in middle market deals.” What is the importance of the letter of intent (LOI) negotiations? (04:13) Jeff: "LOI negotiation is critical because we want to nail down all the topics that we think are going to be critical in negotiation and final documentation before we commit to one party. Hammering out these key topics ahead of time also expedites the process." Is the highest price generally selected as the winner? (05:05) Jeff: "Business owners do not always pick the highest price. It is also about picking the best terms." Listen to Colonnade’s podcast episode 007: Striking a Deal: Price & Terms: https://www.coladv.com/podcasts/007/ Once a seller is exclusive with a buyer, is there a backup plan if the deal falls apart? (05:15) Jeff: "We keep the non-winning bidders warm and engaged in a limited fashion to make sure that we have backups if the deal falls apart.” How do you assess the certainty to close a deal? (06:30) Jeff: "Assessing the certainty to close comes from years of experience working with buyers and thinking through key items such as where is the capital coming from, what their acquisition history is and how likely they are to close on the terms that we have outlined." Are there particular buyer types that are more problematic in terms of the certainty to close? (06:35) Gina: "One group that has caused us problems with the certainty of close in the past is search funds or unfunded sponsors, which are private equity investors that do not have a dedicated fund. These funds tend to bid the highest prices, which is appealing, but they will still need to raise the capital once in exclusivity from institutional investors. Those institutional investors will want to do their diligence, almost restarting the deal process, which creates more risk of the deal not getting done." Jeff: "About ten years ago, family offices were also in this category to some degree. Family offices had smaller dedicated investment teams, so the certainty of closing was considerably lower than traditional private equity firms or a strategic buyer. But that has changed over the last decade where family offices have shifted to become credible buyers." How long does it take to get from signing the LOI to closing? (08:45) Gina: "We generally put 30 to 45 days in the LOI with a provision that both parties can extend the period of exclusivity by mutual written consent based on putting forth best efforts. The time to close depends on the industry. For example, some industries may need regulatory approval or use complex accounting methodologies, which would require more time." What are the components of confirmatory diligence, and how are these workstreams sequenced? (10:06) Jeff: "There is HR, accounting tax compliance, regulatory, legal, IT, and others. Running these workstreams in parallel is key because it is the easiest way to minimize time to close, but you cannot get to the legal documentation until all these other workstreams are completed." At what point do you expect the first turn of the purchase agreement from the buyer? (12:30) Gina: "Pushing to get that first turn of the purchase agreement is very important. We frequently put the purchase agreement in the data room before the LOI, and we expect a markup of it along with the LOI or an issues list, which will help expedite the process.” Who pays for the costs associated with confirmatory diligence and documentation? (13:38) Gina: "The seller pays for the seller's costs, and the buyers pay for the buyer's cost." Jeff: "In the context of a rollover deal, where the company is getting bought by a sponsor, the surviving entity ends up absorbing costs from both sides." What are the typical costs incurred during this phase for sellers and buyers? (14:31) Gina: "The seller can expect to pay for tax counsel or tax accountants if there is tax work to be done, an attorney to assist with negotiating terms, a tax lawyer, and other types of counsels. Buyers can expect to encounter legal fees, accounting fees, consulting fees, IT, technology consulting, and HR consulting." How much does this phase cost for both the sellers and buyers? (14:31) Gina: "Ballpark is anywhere from $75,000 to a couple hundred thousand for a seller. On the buyer's side, a couple hundred thousand easily on diligence for a middle market transaction that's valued $75 to $125 million.” From the seller's side, who is typically involved during the confirmatory diligence phase? (15:55) Gina: "Confirmatory diligence is a big undertaking, and sometimes the knowledge level about the company needs to go beyond the deal team that has been involved to date. At this stage, other people in the company may need to be made aware of the transaction (e.g. sales management, IT, HR, etc.), which can be tricky." What types of issues generally come up in employment contract discussions? (18:57) Gina: "One issue that comes up is pay, which we manage by building out expected compensation levels in the financial model. The second issue is the bonus structure, and the third is vacation. The most important issue that comes up is non-compete, who gets one and what the terms are." Which employees will generally be subject to non-competes? (19:25) Jeff: "There is usually a non-compete for selling shareholders that will be getting proceeds from the deal and non-equity participants that are key to the ongoing entity.” What are the risks associated with employment agreements and non-competes, and how do you mitigate these risks? (20:52) Jeff: "The risk with non-equity participants that are key to the business is that they could choose not to go with the new buyer for whatever reason. This can result in a domino effect from a price change to the deal not happening at all. One tactic that we use is to encourage our seller clients to put in place some type of transaction and retention bonus." Gina: "When Colonnade is working on a transaction, we ask a lot of questions upfront. We will often ask who has employment agreements and what are the terms of those agreements. For business owners that are thinking about selling in a few years, they should be thinking about who their key employees are and how to get them under employment agreements now." What are the different types of employee bonus plans associated with a sale? (23:17) Jeff: "One is transaction bonuses which are for employees who are essentially doing two jobs during the deal process. The second is the retention bonuses that ensure employees are not going to leave when the deal closes." What is Hart Scott Rodino ("HSR"), and how does it impact the transaction? (23:59) Gina: "HSR is one type of regulatory approval that might be needed to close a deal. HSR applies to companies of a certain size, which will need to be approved by the government for anti-trust reasons.” Jeff: "The amount increases every year, but HSR impacts transactions roughly around $80 million in transaction value. There is a filing fee, and it is about a 30-day process.” How long does it typically take from signing the legal documents to closing? Who owns the company during this period? (26:13) Jeff: "It can be 30 days or longer, depending on the different types of approvals. For financial services deals where there is generally regulatory approval, it is often 30 or 60 days. During this period, the seller and buyer essentially both own the company." Can sellers request a break fee if the deal does not close? (27:00) Gina: "In highly competitive, larger transactions, there will be break fees, but in middle market M&A, it's highly unusual to have a break fee. That is because there is not enough diligence that has been done before the signing of the LOI. Without all the information, it is unlikely that buyers will agree to a break fee because they may find out many things during confirmatory diligence." What are typical pitfalls encountered during the exclusivity/documentation phase? How does Colonnade mitigate these risks with seller clients? (28:58) Gina: "One is indemnification, which reps and warranties insurance can mitigate.” Listen to Colonnade’s podcast episode 010: Escaping escrow: Reps & Warranty Insurance: https://www.coladv.com/podcasts/010/ Jeff: "Another pitfall that we have seen involves who owns the intellectual property. To mitigate this risk, we address this issue early in diligence.” Gina: “Another is when the buyers want to speak with the seller company’s top clients. We try to delay that conversation until as late as possible in the process. We want to get to the point where we feel comfortable that we have covered all the major issues, and we're likely to close." Jeff: “The last pitfall that comes to mind is tax, where two parties can have a different view on tax regulations in a given jurisdiction. Our job is to push things forward and cut through all the issues as quickly and efficiently as we can.” What dynamics are typically in play right before a deal closes? (39:02) Jeff: “What I find is when people are the angriest and they're about to throw up their hands, that's when we know we've got a deal, it's sort of where everyone's been pushed to their limits. Everyone's had to give and take, and they're just about ready to walk away, and then the deal signs.” Gina: “And then we celebrate.” Host Information Gina Cocking Gina Cocking serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Colonnade Advisors. She returned to Colonnade as a Managing Director in 2014. Gina began her career in investment banking at Kidder Peabody, was an analyst at Madison Dearborn Partners, and an associate at J.P. Morgan & Co. She was a Vice President at Colonnade Advisors from 1999 to 2003. She left Colonnade to gain operating experience as the Chief Financial Officer of Cobalt Finance, a specialty finance company. She went on to become the Chief Financial Officer of Healthcare Laundry Systems, a private equity-backed company for which she oversaw the successful sale to a strategic acquirer. Gina served as the Line of Business CFO – Consumer Banking and Lending at Discover Financial Services. Gina serves on the Board of Directors of CIB Marine Bancshares, Inc., a bank holding company based in Brookfield, Wisconsin, that operates banking offices in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Gina received her BA in Economics and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Additionally, Gina holds the Series 24, 28, 79, and 99 securities licenses. Jeff Guylay Jeff Guylay is a Managing Director of Colonnade Advisors. Prior to joining Colonnade in 2000, Jeff was an investment banker at J.P. Morgan in the firm's Mergers & Acquisitions and Fixed Income Capital Markets groups in New York. He also spent several years in J.P. Morgan's Chicago office. Jeff has over 20 years of M&A and investment banking experience and has served as lead execution partner on over 25 M&A and financing transactions at Colonnade. Jeff received an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a Master of Engineering Management from the University's McCormick School of Engineering. Jeff received a BA from Dartmouth College and a BE from Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering. Jeff holds the Series 7, 24, 63, and 79 securities licenses. Jeff serves as a director of the non-profit Nurture, an organization dedicated to enhancing the nutrition and wellness of children and families. About the Middle Market Mergers & Acquisitions Podcast Get the insiders' take on mergers and acquisitions. M&A investment bankers Gina Cocking and Jeff Guylay of Colonnade Advisors discuss the technical aspects of and tactics used in middle market deals. This podcast offers actionable advice and strategies for selling your company and is aimed at owners of middle market companies in the financial services and business services sectors. Middle market companies are generally valued between $20 million and $500 million.
  • Middle Market Mergers and Acquisitions by Colonnade Advisors podcast

    MM M&A 016 - Management Meetings

    30:31

    In previous episodes, Colonnade Advisors has outlined our unique 16-week sales process timeline in four phases: pre-marketing, go to market, management presentations/buyer due diligence, and exclusivity/documentation.  Today’s episode focuses on phase three: management presentations/ buyer due diligence. We invite you to listen to episode 001 for more information about phase one (pre-marketing) and episode 002 for more information about phase two (go to market). Other episodes dive deep into technical aspects and tactics used in middle market and mergers and acquisitions. We also invite you to download our 16-week sales process timeline for more information on how Colonnade Advisors typically approaches the process of selling a company. In this episode, we focus on the management meetings, where we introduce our seller clients to a limited set of qualified buyers that have put forth strong offers to buy the company. Management meetings fall on the heels of all the work Colonnade Advisors does with our clients to prepare for this stage of the sales process. At this point in the game, we’ve worked through the list of potential buyers and have narrowed the field to the most qualified. Management meetings are the first time the seller's management team will interact with this limited set of buyers. Thus the title for our episode: Seller and Buyer’s First Date. Key questions explored in this episode are: What purpose does a management meeting serve?  What topics are covered during management meetings? Who is invited? What’s the format for a successful management meeting? How has COVID19 changed how management meetings take place? How do we best prepare our clients?  What purpose does a management meeting serve? (02:15) Gina: "Management meetings are a continuation of the storytelling of the company. It is the opportunity for the management team to tell their story in their own words.  Management meetings are different from diligence meetings—it is not a meeting for potential buyers to ask detailed questions.  Management meetings are the showcase for the management to tell the origin story, to explain in their own words what the business does. And then, very importantly, talk about the growth opportunities.” What topics are covered during management meetings? (04:35) Gina: "Management presentations involve much of the confidential information memorandum but told from management's voice. Additionally, financial numbers are updated from when the confidential information memorandum was released. Sometimes, pages are added to the management presentation specific to the buyers we're meeting with.  Jeff: "When we go to market and have one-on-one conversations with buyers and investors, different themes emerge. Some of them are new and intriguing and bring us down different paths and highlight new growth opportunities. We benefit from the collective insights and questions of up to 100 or more different investors that are looking at the acquisition from their perspective. Once we collect all these thoughts, questions, and comments that buyers ask of us, we weave those themes into the management presentation. It is a collection of ideas that we've been able to cultivate from the market." Who is invited to the management meetings? (08:12) Gina: "From the seller's side, you'll have the CEO, President, the Chief Marketing Officer, the Chief Sales Officer, and the CFO.  Management team members that are leaving post-transaction should not attend the management meeting. (From the buyers’ side) if the buyer is a private equity firm, it will typically include Principals, VPs, and maybe some analysts. If the private equity firm has an investment banking advisor, their banking team will typically attend. If it is a strategic acquirer, the group may be larger. There may be an internal M& team and/or an investment banking advisory team. If the buyer is a private equity-backed company, it will usually be the investment banking advisory team, the strategic core team, M&A team, and some of the private equity firm representatives." What’s the format for a successful management meeting? (12:15) Gina: "Meetings typically take place at the seller's location, either their office or offsite location. Some people will dial into the meeting." Jeff: "Typically, after the management meeting, the group goes out for dinner. Historically, these dinners have been significant in building relationships and deciding who our clients like and who they don't. A lot comes out in these dinners. From the buyers' side, who attends, their seniority, and how prepared they are, are an important reflection of their interest level. The best meetings are interactive, going back and forth, and the attendees don't even touch the (presentation) books." How has COVID19 changed how management meetings take place? (12:47) Gina: "Historically, there are typically four to eight people attending meetings in person. During the COVID pandemic, things have changed. We’ve had Zoom management meetings, and because people don't have to travel, the meetings have gotten larger.” Jeff:  “The management meetings being virtual versus the (traditional) in-person meetings can be challenging. One of the major purposes of these management meetings is to build a relationship between the buyer and seller. An important role we play is working with our clients to manage this relationship-building inside of the virtual culture that we're living in right now.” How does Colonnade best prepare clients for management meetings? (17:41) Gina: "At Colonnade, we will do a profile of each attendee and the firm, a list of questions that they have asked, documents that they have requested, and where we think their interest lies. We also do dry runs with the management team." Jeff: "In preparing our clients on what to present, we will draft the management presentation and then have the management team review it. We spend a lot of time talking through how it might go, particularly with the list of potential questions that we pull together." Gina: “We prepare our clients for questions that are likely to come up. One question almost every management team gets is, 'why are you selling now, or why are you raising capital now?' Another common question is 'what keeps you up at night?' We also prepare our clients for questions to ask of the buyer. One question we encourage everybody to ask is, 'what is your experience in this industry, and what trends do you see in this industry that I should be paying attention to?' Other great questions are: 'describe an ideal partnership for our firms', and 'tell me about some of your other deals that were successful?' Jeff: "It is also good for the financial sponsors to talk about some of the deals that didn't go well. If you can get somebody to open up about some challenging situations/investments they've had, that can be insightful.”My favorite question is: 'beyond the capital, why should we pick you? Why are you the best partner for us?'   At Colonnade, we do our best to prepare our clients and get them ready and through the process as fast as we can." Host Information Gina Cocking Gina Cocking serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Colonnade Advisors. She returned to Colonnade as a Managing Director in 2014. Gina began her career in investment banking at Kidder Peabody, was an analyst at Madison Dearborn Partners, and an associate at J.P. Morgan & Co. She was a Vice President at Colonnade Advisors from 1999 to 2003. She left Colonnade to gain operating experience as the Chief Financial Officer of Cobalt Finance, a specialty finance company. She went on to become the Chief Financial Officer of Healthcare Laundry Systems, a private equity-backed company for which she oversaw the successful sale to a strategic acquirer. Gina served as the Line of Business CFO – Consumer Banking and Lending at Discover Financial Services. Gina serves on the Board of Directors of CIB Marine Bancshares, Inc., a bank holding company based in Brookfield, Wisconsin, that operates banking offices in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Gina received her BA in Economics and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Additionally, Gina holds the Series 24, 28, 79, and 99 securities licenses. Jeff Guylay Jeff Guylay is a Managing Director of Colonnade Advisors. Prior to joining Colonnade in 2000, Jeff was an investment banker at J.P. Morgan in the firm's Mergers & Acquisitions and Fixed Income Capital Markets groups in New York. He also spent several years in J.P. Morgan's Chicago office. Jeff has over 20 years of M&A and investment banking experience and has served as lead execution partner on over 25 M&A and financing transactions at Colonnade. Jeff received an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a Master of Engineering Management from the University's McCormick School of Engineering. Jeff received a BA from Dartmouth College and a BE from Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering. Jeff holds the Series 7, 24, 63, and 79 securities licenses. Jeff serves as a director of the non-profit Nurture, an organization dedicated to enhancing the nutrition and wellness of children and families. About the Middle Market Mergers & Acquisitions Podcast Get the insiders' take on mergers and acquisitions. M&A investment bankers Gina Cocking and Jeff Guylay of Colonnade Advisors discuss the technical aspects of and tactics used in middle market deals. This podcast offers actionable advice and strategies for selling your company and is aimed at owners of middle market companies in the financial services and business services sectors. Middle market companies are generally valued between $20 million and $500 million.  
  • Middle Market Mergers and Acquisitions by Colonnade Advisors podcast

    MM M&A 015 - How to Prepare for Wealth and Preserve Your Family Legacy

    35:26

    In this episode, Jeff Guylay focuses on the best practices to maximize after-tax proceeds from a transaction. Jeff is joined by featured guest Raj Rathi, co-founder of Rathi Singh Private Wealth Management, to share his insights from helping his clients understand the nuances of how best to manage their wealth. Jeff and Raj discuss the importance of diligently working to articulate one's long-term personal and financial goals and utilize the wealth created in a transaction to achieve those goals. Key takeaways from this episode are: • Planning matters; and the sooner business owners start thinking about these important topics, the better • Assembling a complete team, spearheaded by a trusted private wealth advisor, can materially improve the odds of achieving business owners’ lifelong goals post-transaction through wealth preservation In this episode, Colonnade Advisors addresses the following questions as related to maximizing wealth created in a transaction: Why and how did Raj make the transition from working with corporate clients to wealth management? (02:24) Raj: "My corporate life tended to be transactional, where I would have wonderful client relationships, but sometimes those relationships tend to fade after the transaction has transpired. I realized that I liked to keep those relationships, and I liked to have those flourish a little longer. Also, there is an incredible opportunity for my personal clients to get the value-added services from somebody that can look at their situation from a much broader perspective." "Corporate clients have the benefit of an M&A advisor giving them expert advice on how to navigate every nuance of a transaction. Private clients don't get that same type of benefit. They tend to do things by themselves. There is a tremendous amount of inefficiency that exists in the way private clients manage their assets." "Part of the reason for my transition was the opportunity to work with corporate clients on an individual basis and help them, as a trusted advisor, on the private side. To help them figure out the most efficient structure regarding what happens with their wealth after they sell their business." When should business owners start thinking about post-transaction wealth management structures? (08:35) Raj: The best structures tend to be implemented before a transaction takes place. Colonnade, as a sell-side advisor, is incredibly value-added. You focus on maximizing your clients' pretax return on a sale and also try to highlight that there is a maximization that happens after the sale with the estate taxes and structure." "No client has a crystal ball on exactly when they may sell a business. The best advice is pre-planning never hurts because you don't know when exactly the sale is going to occur." Can business owners work in parallel with an M&A advisor on a sale transaction and a private wealth advisor on post-transaction wealth management? (10:50) Raj: Yes, it can run on a parallel path, but it takes a little bit of work. Business owners will need a good banking team to assist on the actual M&A execution and have a good private banking team that can work with the estate attorney or other key advisors. The critical component here is the more time you have, the better, and if you don't have a lot of time, there are still things that can be done that are quite valuable." Why is it important to consider post-transaction wealth management before a transaction takes place? (12:18) Raj: "Knowing how much of the transaction proceeds you will need for your lifespan, how much of the proceeds you want to give to your children, and to charity, in advance, will allow private wealth advisors more time to research the best approach." "Protecting your kids from creditors or predators can be done pre-transaction, harder to do post-transaction, not impossible but a little bit harder." "With the right structure, the estate tax bill can be alleviated into perpetuity. These are the kinds of things that are better addressed ahead of a transaction." Who is typically involved in the private wealth management team? (14:41) Raj: "Private wealth advisor, accountant, estate planning attorney, and tax advisor." Are there structures to minimize capital gains tax on the transaction proceeds? (18:04) Raj: "Sellers should plan on how much they need in their lifespan. Then plan the amount for gifting to children, grandchildren, or charity. We can use gift structures that are right down the middle of the fairway with what is permissible by the IRS, etc. Sellers would need to check with their tax advisor and the estate planning attorneys, but there are many proven structures." "Marrying what we do on an after-tax basis with what M&A advisors do on a pretax basis can be a home run. With proper structuring, the assets are protected from creditors and predators and can be passed down from generation to generation with minimal tax consequences. What are the three main questions that business owners should be thinking about regarding post-transaction wealth management? (21:40) Jeff: "What are your lifestyle needs? What do you want to give to your kids and grandkids or future generations? And then philanthropically, what do you want to accomplish?" Are business owners generally prepared to answer those three main questions? (25:32) Raj: "Those questions should be asked year in, year out for generations or decades. Many business owners will stress about the transaction side, as they should, but they do not marry it with stressing about the after-tax side, which does matter a fair amount." As a wealth management advisor, what are key factors to consider to advise your clients successfully? (25:50) Raj: "Understanding the risk appetite of the client, which entails hardcore planning and analytics on the client and the family and what they need. We have structural conversations with the client to understand the constraints and navigate that on a real-time basis over many years. Also, building in the flexibility structurally so that clients can adapt over time." Can you give an example of one of your private wealth clients? (26:18) Raj: "One of my clients was a Fortune 500 company CEO who just retired. Over the past ten years, he brought down his estate tax from $30 million to $4 million. The wealth transferred successfully on a multi-generational basis, with charity benefits and tax efficiency throughout the portfolio. That doesn't happen by accident. It happened by continued conversations and being smart about pre-planning and post-planning." Ideally, when is the optimal time for business owners to meet with private wealth management advisors? (31:16) Raj: "A year or two before a transaction would be wonderful, but the reality is most people do not do so for various reasons. When business owners decide to hire an advisor to sell the business, that is a good breakpoint to engage an estate planning person and have a team on a parallel path. Another good breakpoint is when the seller is in the letter of intent phase in a transaction." "Even if business owners engage a private wealth advisor post transaction, there is still a lot of good work that can be done, but it just takes a lot longer." Featured guest bio and contact information: Raj Rathi Email: rajeev.rathi@ml.com Raj Rathi is a graduate of The University of Chicago and Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business. Early in his professional life, Raj was an investment banker with JP Morgan and Lehman Brothers, eventually serving as a co-leader in the investment bank's industrial practice. After working in banking for over 15 years, Raj shifted his business activities to private clients from corporations and co-founded The Rathi Singh Private Wealth Management practice. For the past 15 years, Raj & his team have focused on providing a coordinated approach to wealth management that overlays risk, estate, tax, and portfolio considerations to maximize outcomes for clients. Raj's clientele includes Fortune 500 CEOs, business owners, and individuals with generational wealth. Ultimately he views his role as helping clients understand the nuances of how best to manage their wealth with a purpose and how best to define that strategy based on their goals. Please note that neither Merrill Lynch nor Colonnade Advisors provides legal or tax advice. Please consult with your advisors as appropriate. Host Information Gina Cocking Gina Cocking serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Colonnade Advisors. She returned to Colonnade as a Managing Director in 2014. Gina began her career in investment banking at Kidder Peabody, was an analyst at Madison Dearborn Partners, and an associate at J.P. Morgan & Co. She was a Vice President at Colonnade Advisors from 1999 to 2003. She left Colonnade to gain operating experience as the Chief Financial Officer of Cobalt Finance, a specialty finance company. She went on to become the Chief Financial Officer of Healthcare Laundry Systems, a private equity-backed company for which she oversaw the successful sale to a strategic acquirer. Gina served as the Line of Business CFO – Consumer Banking and Lending at Discover Financial Services. Gina serves on the Board of Directors of CIB Marine Bancshares, Inc., a bank holding company based in Brookfield, Wisconsin, that operates banking offices in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Gina received her BA in Economics and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Additionally, Gina holds the Series 24, 28, 79, and 99 securities licenses. Jeff Guylay Jeff Guylay is a Managing Director of Colonnade Advisors. Prior to joining Colonnade in 2000, Jeff was an investment banker at J.P. Morgan in the firm's Mergers & Acquisitions and Fixed Income Capital Markets groups in New York. He also spent several years in J.P. Morgan's Chicago office. Jeff has over 20 years of M&A and investment banking experience and has served as lead execution partner on over 25 M&A and financing transactions at Colonnade. Jeff received an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a Master of Engineering Management from the University's McCormick School of Engineering. Jeff received a BA from Dartmouth College and a BE from Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering. Jeff holds the Series 7, 24, 63, and 79 securities licenses. Jeff serves as a director of the non-profit Nurture, an organization dedicated to enhancing the nutrition and wellness of children and families. About the Middle Market Mergers & Acquisitions Podcast Get the insiders' take on mergers and acquisitions. M&A investment bankers Gina Cocking and Jeff Guylay of Colonnade Advisors discuss the technical aspects of and tactics used in middle market deals. This podcast offers actionable advice and strategies for selling your company and is aimed at owners of middle market companies in the financial services and business services sectors. Middle market companies are generally valued between $20 million and $500 million.
  • Middle Market Mergers and Acquisitions by Colonnade Advisors podcast

    MM M&A 014: Auction Processes - Get the highest price

    26:10

    In this episode, Gina Cocking and Jeff Guylay discuss the different types of auction processes we use in a sale transaction, including a negotiated deal, a small process, a targeted auction, and a broad auction. Gina and Jeff talk about each approach's pros and cons and why Colonnade advises clients on selecting one versus the other, recognizing that each situation is unique and calls for a customized approach to the market. This episode concludes with a case study of a negotiated process, a broad auction, and a hybrid between a small and targeted auction. In this episode, Colonnade Advisors addresses the following questions as related to the different types of auction processes: What are the four primary types of auction processes that Colonnade ues when helping clients sell their business? (01:52) Gina: "There are four general categories, ranging from the smallest audience to the largest. A negotiated deal involves one bidder. A small auction process generally involves two to five bidders. A targeted auction involves the most likely universe of buyers, ranging from six to 20. Lastly, a broad auction involves contacting a large universe of potential buyers, over 20 parties. There are pros and cons to each of these types of auctions." What are the advantages of a broad auction? (03:42) Jeff: "Broad auction is all about market discovery. All four types of auctions involve competition and market discovery, but a broad auction involves unturning every stone, looking under every nook and cranny, and finding that needle in a haystack that you wouldn't have thought about otherwise." How do we get to the highest value and best outcome with a negotiated auction? (05:14) Gina: "With a negotiated auction, there is one buyer, so there is the risk of no competition. The buyer could decide to change the price or walk away at any time. One tactic that we use is creating a credible threat. As the seller's advisor, we work in the background on creating materials to go to broader auction, if necessary. That is the credible threat: if the deal has a misstep at any point, the buyer knows that we can immediately go to market and get full market discovery." Jeff: "Some sellers do not want to go through a broad auction, so they are willing to get a slightly lower price for the benefit of only dealing with one buyer. In addition to pricing, deal momentum and getting a deal done are also critical. " What are the benefits of running a small process? (08:01) Gina: "A small process has a lot of the same dynamics as a negotiated auction. One additional advantage with a small process is actual competition, so you can compare bids and push bids up to the highest possible bid of that group. A second advantage is that the seller will have a fallback buyer if the first choice drops out for some reason. Another advantage to a small process is confidentiality. Selling a company is a very revealing exercise because the seller has to tell buyers everything about the company. A negotiated deal and small process limit the risk of who is getting the seller's confidential information." What types of buyers are generally in a small process and targeted auction? (10:46) Gina: "In a small process, it tends to be strategics. When there is a smaller universe of potential buyers, it tends to be the ones who really understand the business and are already interested, which are likely to be strategics. Jeff: "A small process is almost always largely comprised of strategics. There is probably a mix of strategics in a targeted auction, maybe have half a dozen strategics and ten private equity firms. That sort of universe can generate meaningful competition." What are the trade-offs between a small process and a targeted auction? (11:27) Jeff: "The workload for a small process and a targeted auction is probably the same, but the seller does lose a little bit of a grip on confidentiality because they are talking to 20 parties instead of two." What is one of the drawbacks of starting with a small group of buyers? (12:17) Jeff: "One of the drawbacks of starting with a small group of buyers in a negotiated deal, small process, or the targeted auction is that it is sometimes challenging, depending on how far along you are in the process, to switch to a broader auction. Sellers have to carefully select the appropriate process upfront." What are the considerations for doing a broad auction? (14:04) Gina: "The most important reason to do a broad auction is full market price discovery.” What is Colonnade's approach to assessing the buyer universe? (14:30) Gina: "Colonnade focuses on specific industries in business services and financial services and the intersection between those two, so we know the private equity universe and strategic buyers in these industries." Does a broad auction require more work for the seller? (15:30) Jeff: "A broad auction does not mean that our clients have to do more work than in a targeted auction. All the materials that we put together are the same. We still have to go through rigorous due diligence, putting the book together, building the financial model, and making sure that the story ties out." What is Colonnade's typical broad auction process? (16:00) Jeff: "We create a curated list of buyers, which is approved by our seller clients, and we approach this broad group with a no-name teaser. We contact this broad group and find out the conversations they are having internally and determine whether there is a fit. Sometimes the most obvious top five names are not interested, so it is good that we went to a broader universe. Our team goes through the list on a no-name basis, then under a non-disclosure agreement with specifics. We work the funnel down through indications of interest, management meetings, final bids, and down to the winner." Is there confidentiality risk in a broad auction when reaching out to 100 or more potential buyers? (17:25) Gina: "The 100 or more potential buyers do not all get the information. In the funnel, the 100 or more get the teaser and NDA on a no-names basis. Then at the next stage in the funnel, after the execution of an NDA, some subset will get the confidential information memorandum, which has a lot of information, but it still is limited. The next subset gives us an indication of interest letter, and we will invite them into the next stage, in which they then have access to a limited data room and perhaps a management meeting. Only that final buyer in exclusivity has access to what can be considered the company's trade secrets and have access to the contracts, etc." Jeff: "The buyer list is highly curated. " Can you give an example of a negotiated process? (19:02) Jeff: "TD Bank was selling a national commercial finance business to Wells Fargo. TD Bank hired Colonnade after they started talking about price. Colonnade's role was negotiating the deal and giving TD confidence that they were getting a fair price and what valuation should be in a broader process—creating a credible threat. We worked diligently to negotiate the deal with Wells Fargo and put a book together so that we were ready to go to market if needed. We had the 40 logical names ready to be contacted at any minute if the deal with Wells Fargo failed, and Wells Fargo knew it too. To Well Fargo's credit, they came through and offered a fair price and came through on the timing and offered a great platform for the team." Can you give an example of a broad auction? (20:54) Gina: "Last year, Colonnade advised Smart AutoCare on its sale to Fortegra, a Tiptree subsidiary. We started with over 100 potential buyers in a broad auction. We received eleven indications of interest, so it was a very robust auction, and we had great price discovery. At the time, we did not go to Tiptree because Fortegra was a supplier to the company. We had three or four LOIs, and we went forward with the winning bidder, and it was a great price. We ended up pivoting away from that buyer because the business owner felt that the private equity firm did not understand his business, so we went to Tiptree. We were able to negotiate a transaction with Tiptree and successfully close. It was a fantastic result." Can you give an example of a hybrid between a small process and a targeted auction? (22:37) Jeff: "A few years ago, we advised ADG on its sale to APCO. APCO had approached ADG and its private equity owner and made an offer. ADG hired Colonnade to run a small process or a targeted auction to the obvious buyers. There were many potential buyers, but we narrowed it to a list of 15 and worked that list to generate competition and drive up the price and terms. APCO, who had essentially triggered the auction, was ultimately the winner, and they paid market price and terms. It was a great outcome for the team." How do sellers determine which auction process is the best option for selling their businesses? (24:16) Jeff: "Each situation is unique, and it depends on lots of different circumstances. It is all part of the pre-planning process that we work with our clients to think about what's going to get the best outcome based on their objectives." Host Information Gina Cocking Gina Cocking serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Colonnade Advisors. She returned to Colonnade as a Managing Director in 2014. Gina began her career in investment banking at Kidder Peabody, was an analyst at Madison Dearborn Partners, and an associate at J.P. Morgan & Co. She was a Vice President at Colonnade Advisors from 1999 to 2003. She left Colonnade to gain operating experience as the Chief Financial Officer of Cobalt Finance, a specialty finance company. She went on to become the Chief Financial Officer of Healthcare Laundry Systems, a private equity-backed company for which she oversaw the successful sale to a strategic acquirer. Gina served as the Line of Business CFO – Consumer Banking and Lending at Discover Financial Services. Gina serves on the Board of Directors of CIB Marine Bancshares, Inc., a bank holding company based in Brookfield, Wisconsin, that operates banking offices in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Gina received her BA in Economics and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Additionally, Gina holds the Series 24, 28, 79, and 99 securities licenses. Jeff Guylay Jeff Guylay is a Managing Director of Colonnade Advisors. Prior to joining Colonnade in 2000, Jeff was an investment banker at J.P. Morgan in the firm's Mergers & Acquisitions and Fixed Income Capital Markets groups in New York. He also spent several years in J.P. Morgan's Chicago office. Jeff has over 20 years of M&A and investment banking experience and has served as lead execution partner on over 25 M&A and financing transactions at Colonnade. Jeff received an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a Master of Engineering Management from the University's McCormick School of Engineering. Jeff received a BA from Dartmouth College and a BE from Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering. Jeff holds the Series 7, 24, 63, and 79 securities licenses. Jeff serves as a director of the non-profit Nurture, an organization dedicated to enhancing the nutrition and wellness of children and families. About the Middle Market Mergers & Acquisitions Podcast Get the insiders' take on mergers and acquisitions. M&A investment bankers Gina Cocking and Jeff Guylay of Colonnade Advisors discuss the technical aspects of and tactics used in middle market deals. This podcast offers actionable advice and strategies for selling your company and is aimed at owners of middle market companies in the financial services and business services sectors. Middle market companies are generally valued between $20 million and $500 million.
  • Middle Market Mergers and Acquisitions by Colonnade Advisors podcast

    MM M&A 013: Building Relationships

    29:32

    This is a special episode discussing how to build successful business relationships. In this episode, Gina Cocking, is joined by featured guest Willard Bunn, a managing director at Colonnade Advisors. Willard has previously served as chairman, chief executive, and director of several commercial banks. He has held numerous board positions and has extensive experience as an investment banker. Willard has the ability to build deep relationships with potential clients and industry professionals, resulting in seemingly effortless marketing. One of the key takeaways from this episode is that trust is a critical factor in building a successful business relationship. In this episode, Willard addresses the following questions as related to building business relationships: Before you meet somebody for the first time, do you do any special preparation beforehand? (02:02) Willard: "Yes, there is so much information available on LinkedIn and other sources. When I meet people for the first time, I will search for them and extract what I can. It's helpful when you show up at a luncheon table to know who exactly you're talking to." How do you prepare when you don't know you're going to meet a person? For example, when attending conferences with hundreds of people in a room. (03:11) Willard: "I have found the best icebreaker has always been to ask. ‘What is your business? What do you do?’ Because there is nobody on the planet who doesn't want to talk about his or her business. Once you get that laid out, then you know where to go with the next question." Once you have met a person and chatted for a few minutes, how do you continue with that relationship? What type of follow-ups do you do? (03:57) Willard: "Normally, the follow-up would be an email of some sort. In the email, try to grab onto something in the conversation because that person has met a lot of people that evening, too." How soon do you generally follow-up with someone that you have met? (04:53) Willard: "I try to follow up quickly with an email, so the image is still in their mind. I also think it's helpful to attach something to the email. For example, for Colonnade's marketing, attaching a podcast episode or white paper would be helpful because it gives them an idea of who you are and the company." Do you have any strategies for cold calling or emailing people? (04:53) Willard: "If you are reaching out to someone for the first time, it is a good idea to attach a piece of work that you have done. For people that you're in touch with regularly, it is a good idea to attach a current update to the piece of work. This kind of process can stretch over the years. Building these relationships take time." When you do outreach and do not get a response, how long do you wait before you reach out to somebody again? What strategy is there without making the person feel guilty but reminding them that you're there? (08:19) Willard: "These are situational. I think once a quarter is probably sufficient time to give some downtime, but not to let it lapse either." What are other successful maintaining relationship strategies have you encountered? (09:21) Willard: "When I was running a bank, I was the target for investment bankers, and one of the bankers would send a non-business book every Christmas. I always thought that was a good way to keep in touch via a non-aggressive Christmas present." How do you prioritize maintaining relationships with people? (11:35) Willard: "One of the things that I noticed in the investment banking business was the bifurcation of time. When you get busy with current active deals, how do you simultaneously keep in touch with prospects? It's like everything else in life, you have the work you have to do right now in front of you, but you also have a list on the side of prospects. Communication now is much easier than ten years ago, which makes reaching out to prospects to keep in touch much easier." How do you reach out to people that you have not interacted with much? (13:26) Willard: "During non-COVID times, Chicago offered various events that allow people to meet. One medium that I have used in the past was the speaker dinners at the Economic Club. It gives you an informal, non-threatening environment to try to further a relationship." How do you build trust in a relationship? (15:18) Willard: "That is an important concept. People hire you because they trust you and feel you understand their business. It is hard to know what triggers trust. In my particular case, on the investment banking side, the people we represented, I knew well over several years. When you see how people behave in restaurants with waiters, how they behave on the golf course, and all that kind of stuff, that adds up to form a standpoint that I know this person and trust them, particularly, I can trust them to tell me the truth." Gina: "We also talked about how follow-ups after meeting a person can build trust. It's a good way to start building trust." What is one way to distinguish yourself when following up with business prospects? (18:39) Willard: "You distinguish yourself by actually doing something you said you were going to do. It is super simple, but not everybody does that." How often do you use handwritten notes, and when and why do you do that? (19:45) Willard: "In meaningful situations, I think a handwritten note is a very nice idea. It shows a little extra effort." Gina: "When I left Discover Financial Services, I wrote some of my colleagues handwritten notes a few days before I left. Then, I noticed several people had my note in their cubicles. I think because it was an unusual thing. People kept it and remembered it." What are your thoughts on postcards? (21:26) Willard: "Postcards are a very nice thing to send to people because it lets them know you're thinking of them in out of the way places." We all have limited hours in a day; how do you politely decline someone who reaches out to you, but you may not be in the best position to have a conversation with them? (23:00) Willard: "If someone wants your opinion about something, that is a nice compliment, so you don't want to seem ungrateful. If time is limited, tell the truth that it isn't anything you want to get involved with right now." Do you have any advice for people who are starting their careers and starting to build professional relationships? (25:31) Willard: "I'll give a piece of advice that I got from my father-in-law. When I was working in New York in the 70s, he advised me that I should get out every day and have lunch with somebody, and I did. Some of those lunches have led to great business ideas. My main point is to make sure you are out there seeing people, and lunch is a good time to do it." Featured guest bio and contact information: Willard Bunn III Email: wbunn@coladv.com Willard Bunn III joined Colonnade Advisors as a Managing Director in 2012. Willard has served as chairman, chief executive, and/or director of several commercial banks in the course of his 40-year career. Willard's long career in the banking industry began at Chemical Bank in New York before returning to Springfield in 1978 to serve as Executive Vice President and eventually Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Marine Corporation, a multibank holding company with $1.2 billion of assets. Following Marine's merger with Banc One, Willard was appointed Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Banc One Illinois Corporation, which he held until 1994. Willard went on to serve in various management positions with two investment banking firms. Willard served as a Director of Baytree Bank of Lake Forest, Illinois, from its founding in 2000 and as Chairman of the Bank from April 2010 to August 2012. Willard serves on the Board of Directors of CIB Marine Bancshares, Inc., a bank holding company based in Waukesha, Wisconsin, that operates banking offices in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. He also serves on the Boards of Midland National Life Insurance Company and North American Company for Life and Health Insurance, insurance subsidiaries of the Sammons Financial Group. In addition, Willard is Chairman of the Board for the Poetry Foundation, a literary organization, and a Poetry magazine publisher. He serves as an advisory director of Chicago-based Campus2Career Transition Services and a member of The Banc Funds Company's valuation committee. Willard holds a BA from Princeton University and an MBA from the University of Virginia. In addition, he has the Series 79 securities license. Host Information Gina Cocking Gina Cocking serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Colonnade Advisors. She returned to Colonnade as a Managing Director in 2014. Gina began her career in investment banking at Kidder Peabody, was an analyst at Madison Dearborn Partners, and an associate at J.P. Morgan & Co. She was a Vice President at Colonnade Advisors from 1999 to 2003. She left Colonnade to gain operating experience as the Chief Financial Officer of Cobalt Finance, a specialty finance company. She went on to become the Chief Financial Officer of Healthcare Laundry Systems, a private equity-backed company for which she oversaw the successful sale to a strategic acquirer. Gina served as the Line of Business CFO – Consumer Banking and Lending at Discover Financial Services. Gina serves on the Board of Directors of CIB Marine Bancshares, Inc., a bank holding company based in Brookfield, Wisconsin, that operates banking offices in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Gina received her BA in Economics and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Additionally, Gina holds the Series 24, 28, 79, and 99 securities licenses. Jeff Guylay Jeff Guylay is a Managing Director of Colonnade Advisors. Prior to joining Colonnade in 2000, Jeff was an investment banker at J.P. Morgan in the firm's Mergers & Acquisitions and Fixed Income Capital Markets groups in New York. He also spent several years in J.P. Morgan's Chicago office. Jeff has over 20 years of M&A and investment banking experience and has served as lead execution partner on over 25 M&A and financing transactions at Colonnade. Jeff received an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a Master of Engineering Management from the University's McCormick School of Engineering. Jeff received a BA from Dartmouth College and a BE from Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering. Jeff holds the Series 7, 24, 63, and 79 securities licenses. Jeff serves as a director of the non-profit Nurture, an organization dedicated to enhancing the nutrition and wellness of children and families. About the Middle Market Mergers & Acquisitions Podcast Get the insiders' take on mergers and acquisitions. M&A investment bankers Gina Cocking and Jeff Guylay of Colonnade Advisors discuss the technical aspects of and tactics used in middle market deals. This podcast offers actionable advice and strategies for selling your company and is aimed at owners of middle market companies in the financial services and business services sectors. Middle market companies are generally valued between $20 million and $500 million.
  • Middle Market Mergers and Acquisitions by Colonnade Advisors podcast

    MM M&A 012: What is my company worth?

    24:14

    In this episode, Gina Cocking and Jeff Guylay focus on valuation - determining what your company is worth. Key takeaways from this episode are: The right valuation methodology depends on the industry and the company Valuation should not be overly focused on the multiple. It also depends on what you to apply the multiple to Market price discovery through a competitive process will drive the highest valuation In this episode, Colonnade Advisors addresses the following questions as related to valuation: What are the different valuation methodologies used? (00:48) Gina: "There are comparable company trading, comparable transaction, and the more complex discounted cash flow valuations. There are also other types of valuation methods that are not relevant to what we do on a day-to-day, so we will focus on the three main ones." At what point in the process is valuation analysis generally performed? (01:12) Jeff: "It is often performed ahead of going to market. Many times, it is ahead of us doing due diligence. We might update these valuation analyses for our clients at various points throughout the process, and we do a gut check on whether we are ready to go to market." What is the value of hiring a sell-side financial advisor in determining the transaction price? (01:12) Jeff: "Ultimately, it is the market that sets the transaction price. The real value of hiring a financial advisor to help sell a business is to get the best price and terms, which is generally achieved through an auction process." What is a comparable transaction valuation? (02:43) Jeff: "It is what the market has offered up to companies that are comparable to the company being evaluated. For example, if a company sold at eight times EBITDA, it's logical to assume that another company that is very similar, or comparable, would trade at eight times EBITDA." What attributes of a target company will impact the comparable transaction multiple? (03:37) Jeff: "The multiple will depend on all sorts of attributes of the specific target company, whether it is growing faster or slower, whether the management team is better or worse, client concentration, or geographic concentration. All sorts of things influence the multiple that a buyer is willing to pay." What is comparable trading valuation, and how does it apply to middle market transactions? (04:17) Jeff: "This involves looking at where the comparable public companies are trading in the public markets. The comparable trading valuation metrics are a little more theoretical for the middle market transactions. It is a helpful metric and something used in negotiations with buyers, but there are all sorts of factors that drive the multiple relative to what you might expect to achieve in the private market." Gina: "Volatility in the public market will impact the valuation of public companies.  You do not see the same day to day volatility in a private transaction. For a middle market company, comparable trading valuation is less relevant because of the size differential." What is discounted cash flow valuation? (06:35) Jeff: "The discounted cash flow valuation is an analysis of the businesses' free cash flows. Then discount the cash flows at a certain discount rate to arrive at the net present value of all those cash flows. The biggest drivers of this analysis include the discount rate, which could be derived using the CAPM model, and a variety of other factors." What industries use revenue multiples? (09:37) Gina: "Pre-profitability companies use revenue multiples. It is often used in high growth type businesses such as software and biotech companies and recurring revenue companies. The revenue multiples can range depending on the industry." What is the rationale for using EBITDA multiples? (10:29) Gina: "EBITDA is a proxy for cash flow and normalizes income between various companies." How do you determine which multiple metrics to use? (11:58) Jeff: "There are many different metrics that buyers and sellers can focus on, and it is generally industry-specific. It is important for the seller and their advisor to focus on what are the right metrics for the seller's business." What are the multiple metrics applied to? (12:34) Gina: "There are a lot of different ways to look at what the metric is. Different methods are used in different industries. Some industries use GAAP accounting, and some industries use some special purpose accounting. There are also add-backs to EBITDA so that anything unusual and extraordinary can be added back to increase EBITDA and valuation." What is the significance of add-backs? (14:18) Jeff: "Add-backs help demonstrate what the company's earnings stream looks like going forward. It gives a sense of the pure earnings of the business." What are pro forma adjustments to EBITDA? (14:58) Gina: "It involves adjusting historical EBITDA for known future or recent arrangements, such as a decrease in expense or increase in operating efficiency. The adjusted EBITDA demonstrates how the business is going to operate going forward." What is synergy in an M&A transaction, and can the seller benefit? (17:13) Gina: "Synergy is when two companies combine, and instead of being one plus one equals two, one plus one equals three. That could be because of expense reductions or revenue enhancements. Buyers will benefit from synergies in the future. A competitive process will increase the likelihood that a seller will get paid for at least a portion of the synergies a buyer may achieve." How does customer concentration impact valuation? (19:26) Gina: "Customer concentration or any distribution channel concentration will typically reduce valuation. Customer concentration involves anything greater than 15%." How does the transaction process impact the price and term? (20:49) Jeff: "There are various factors that could lead to a potential buyer dropping out. Therefore, finding the greatest number of highly qualified buyers and working diligently through the process delivers the best price and term for sellers." What is the difference between enterprise value versus equity value? (21:47) Gina: "If a company has debt on the books, then the debt is subtracted from the enterprise value to get to the equity value." What is the ultimate answer to "What is my company worth?" (23:30) Gina: "Your company is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. Our job is to create a competitive environment to yield the highest price and the best terms." Host Information Gina Cocking Gina Cocking serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Colonnade Advisors. She returned to Colonnade as a Managing Director in 2014. Gina began her career in investment banking at Kidder Peabody, was an analyst at Madison Dearborn Partners, and an associate at J.P. Morgan & Co. She was a Vice President at Colonnade Advisors from 1999 to 2003. She left Colonnade to gain operating experience as the Chief Financial Officer of Cobalt Finance, a specialty finance company. She went on to become the Chief Financial Officer of Healthcare Laundry Systems, a private equity-backed company for which she oversaw the successful sale to a strategic acquirer. Gina served as the Line of Business CFO – Consumer Banking and Lending at Discover Financial Services. Gina serves on the Board of Directors of CIB Marine Bancshares, Inc., a bank holding company based in Brookfield, Wisconsin, that operates banking offices in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Gina received her BA in Economics and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Additionally, Gina holds the Series 24, 28, 79, and 99 securities licenses. Jeff Guylay Jeff Guylay is a Managing Director of Colonnade Advisors. Prior to joining Colonnade in 2000, Jeff was an investment banker at J.P. Morgan in the firm's Mergers & Acquisitions and Fixed Income Capital Markets groups in New York. He also spent several years in J.P. Morgan's Chicago office. Jeff has over 20 years of M&A and investment banking experience and has served as lead execution partner on over 25 M&A and financing transactions at Colonnade. Jeff received an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a Master of Engineering Management from the University's McCormick School of Engineering. Jeff received a BA from Dartmouth College and a BE from Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering. Jeff holds the Series 7, 24, 63, and 79 securities licenses. Jeff serves as a director of the non-profit Nurture, an organization dedicated to enhancing the nutrition and wellness of children and families. About the Middle Market Mergers & Acquisitions Podcast Get the insiders' take on mergers and acquisitions. M&A investment bankers Gina Cocking and Jeff Guylay of Colonnade Advisors discuss the technical aspects of and tactics used in middle market deals. This podcast offers actionable advice and strategies for selling your company and is aimed at owners of middle market companies in the financial services and business services sectors. Middle market companies are generally valued between $20 million and $500 million.
  • Middle Market Mergers and Acquisitions by Colonnade Advisors podcast

    MM M&A 011: Empire Building Through a Roll-Up Strategy

    26:02

    In this episode, Gina Cocking and Jeff Guylay continue their discussion on deal structuring. Today, the focus is on roll-ups. Key takeaways from this episode are: • Highly fragmented industries are ripe for roll-ups • A roll-up is an attractive exit alternative for companies that are subscale or have an incomplete management organization • Transparency from both the buyer and the seller leads to the most successful outcomes Other episodes in our series about deal structuring include price and terms, earn outs, rollover equity, and reps and warranty insurance.  Later in this episode, Gina is joined by our guest Rob Humble, Chief Revenue Officer at Innovative Aftermarket Systems ("IAS"), to share his insights from executing a roll-up strategy for IAS as the Senior Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development. In this episode, Colonnade Advisors addresses the following questions as related to roll-ups: What is a roll-up? (01:02) Gina: "A roll-up is when an owner, which could be a private equity owner or a strategic, starts with a platform company. The roll-up adds other companies in the same industry, and they're typically smaller companies than the platform. The add-on companies are rolled into the platform." What is the purpose of implementing a roll-up strategy? (01:34) Gina: "It's a way for a company to increase in size inorganically, quickly, and while doing so, they are recognizing both expense synergies and perhaps revenue synergies." Jeff: "It plays on the themes that we've talked about in other episodes, which is bigger is better, in many respects. Generally, bigger companies are more attractive to a wider audience of investors or buyers." What industries typically do roll-ups? (02:42) Gina: "One industry that comes to mind is the insurance agency industry. We have seen this time and time again, where a private equity firm buys an insurance agency, a large insurance agency, and then they start making smaller acquisitions." Jeff: "The insurance distribution sector is perfect for the roll-up strategy. It's low capital intensity, recurring revenue, and highly fragmented market." What type of companies implement roll-up strategies? (04:29) Jeff: "This strategy works for large public companies, private equity firms, and independent companies." What is the rationale for roll-ups? (05:34) Gina: "One is geographic. Number two, it might be because of specific product knowledge. Number three, it can be to get a specific customer. What is the financial benefit of roll-ups? (06:49) Jeff: "A large platform company is going to trade at a higher multiple than a smaller company. There's arbitrage if a large platform company acquires smaller add-on acquisitions and integrates successfully." Why is integration important? (07:56) Gina: "Sometimes, acquisitions fail because they fail to integrate properly. That is not just making sure everybody is on the same technology system, but integrating cultures, integrating client relationships, and integrating product sets. That is the real challenge in an acquisition." Jeff: "The integration is key to a lot of things, certainly to value maximization over time." How do add-on companies benefit from roll-ups? (10:23) Jeff: "The add-on companies benefit from the resources of the parent company, the larger enterprise. Add-on companies can grow their business, which probably will have some contingent consideration involved in the transaction, and be a part of the success." Gina: "The smaller company, ideally, will have some rollover equity or earn outs that are structured on growth in the company, so you get to participate in the upside." When Colonnade represents a seller into a roll-up, what diligence is done on the buyer? (12:10) Jeff: "We do diligence on the parent company and the financial sponsor. We talk about their track record and history in doing roll-ups. We do diligence on the acquisitions they have done already and the outlook of the combined entity. Part of the consideration to our client is likely going to be equity in this new entity, so we will think about how much to rollover, what's it worth, what are all the conditions around it, and who is in control." What is one of the challenges for sellers in a roll-up? And what are the trade-offs? (13:23) Gina: "One of the challenges for entrepreneurs when they go through a sale process is the sudden realization that they're going to have a boss. Entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs for a reason. They like running the show. It can be a challenge to be part of a larger organization and not be in charge." Jeff: "There are the trade outs with control. Being part of a larger organization, the add-on company benefits from the growth of the larger organization, increased size, and resources for future acquisitions." What is the potential upside for sellers that rolled over equity into the new entity from a financial perspective? (15:63) Gina: "The upside can be enormous. The next exit with the platform could be worth just as much if not more than when the seller went in and did the first transaction." What is your outlook on roll-ups used in transactions? (17:45) Gina: "Roll-ups are used all the time. Going into the next decade, I do not see a slow down in roll-ups as a strategy being deployed by private equity firms." Gina invites Rob Humble, Chief Revenue Officer at IAS, to share his insights from executing a roll-up strategy for IAS as the Senior Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development. What is the most effective structure for proceeds to the seller for a roll-up? (18:40) • An acquisition under private equity ownership generally comes with an equity component • For sellers that are not looking to be a long-term part of a bigger organization, they are likely maximizing value at closing, which means they are going to value cash and as little earn out as possible • IAS was private equity-owned and was buying companies that bought into the private equity model, which is to invest the executive’s energy, and together produce greater value and then share in that value How do you guide sellers that shy away from roll-ups because they want to protect their employees? (21:13) • As the buyer, be honest and transparent as much as possible throughout the process • Sellers can build a deep trust with the buyer and can trust that the deal that they entered into together is going to work out for not only what the buyers’ strategic intent is, but sellers’ as well • It is best if the buyer can collaborate with the sellers on what are the ways that they can be more efficient together How do you get business owners comfortable with working for someone post the transaction? (23:33) • It comes back to honesty, transparency, and as much diligence both ways as possible. What would you tell a business owner that is getting ready to sell into a roll-up strategy? (23:51) • Get prepared and get organized. Perform diligence on your own company before you let somebody else look at your company • Sellers should understand why they want to sell then find a buyer that they believe meets that criteria Featured guest bio and contact information: Rob Humble Email: rhumble@iasdirect.com Rob Humble is the Chief Revenue Officer at Innovative Aftermarket Systems. Before coming to IAS Rob held strategy and corporate development leadership roles with financial services firms NetSpend and Rent-A-Center. Prior to his time in financial services, Rob held strategy, finance, and operations roles at Fortune 500 companies spanning the automotive, defense & aerospace, and chemical industries. Rob earned his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, graduating magna cum laude. He also holds an MBA from Harvard Business School. Rob lives in Austin, TX with his wife and two young kids. He enjoys hanging out with his family, distance running, binge-watching the hottest TV shows, watching Oklahoma Sooners football and indulging in random interests including knitting, furniture building, and home improvement. Host Information: Gina Cocking Gina Cocking serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Colonnade Advisors. She returned to Colonnade as a Managing Director in 2014. Gina began her career in investment banking at Kidder Peabody, was an analyst at Madison Dearborn Partners, and an associate at J.P. Morgan & Co. She was a Vice President at Colonnade Advisors from 1999 to 2003. She left Colonnade to gain operating experience as the Chief Financial Officer of Cobalt Finance, a specialty finance company. She went on to become the Chief Financial Officer of Healthcare Laundry Systems, a private equity-backed company for which she oversaw the successful sale to a strategic acquirer. Gina served as the Line of Business CFO – Consumer Banking and Lending at Discover Financial Services. Gina serves on the Board of Directors of CIB Marine Bancshares, Inc., a bank holding company based in Brookfield, Wisconsin, that operates banking offices in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Gina received her BA in Economics and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Additionally, Gina holds the Series 24, 28, 79, and 99 securities licenses. Jeff Guylay Jeff Guylay is a Managing Director of Colonnade Advisors. Prior to joining Colonnade in 2000, Jeff was an investment banker at J.P. Morgan in the firm's Mergers & Acquisitions and Fixed Income Capital Markets groups in New York. He also spent several years in J.P. Morgan's Chicago office. Jeff has over 20 years of M&A and investment banking experience and has served as lead execution partner on over 25 M&A and financing transactions at Colonnade. Jeff received an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a Master of Engineering Management from the University's McCormick School of Engineering. Jeff received a BA from Dartmouth College and a BE from Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering. Jeff holds the Series 7, 24, 63, and 79 securities licenses. Jeff serves as a director of the non-profit Nurture, an organization dedicated to enhancing the nutrition and wellness of children and families. About the Middle Market Mergers & Acquisitions Podcast Get the insiders' take on mergers and acquisitions. M&A investment bankers Gina Cocking and Jeff Guylay of Colonnade Advisors discuss the technical aspects of and tactics used in middle market deals. This podcast offers actionable advice and strategies for selling your company and is aimed at owners of middle market companies in the financial services and business services sectors. Middle market companies are generally valued between $20 million and $500 million.
  • Middle Market Mergers and Acquisitions by Colonnade Advisors podcast

    MM M&A 010: Escaping escrow - Reps & Warranty Insurance

    37:29

    In this episode, Gina Cocking and Jeff Guylay continue their discussion on deal structuring. Today, we explore reps and warranties ("R&W") insurance. In this episode, we cover: · What is R&W insurance? · What is the pricing of R&W insurance? · What is the process to obtain R&W insurance? Key takeaways from this episode: · R&W insurance is a tried and true product, and securing it will not slow down the pace of a deal · Smaller deals, down to $10 million in size, can still get R&W insurance · R&W insurance is a great way for a seller to get more cash at close, rather than having 10%+ of the purchase price tied up in a multi-year escrow Other episodes in our series about deal structuring include price and terms, earn outs, rollover equity, and roll ups.  Later in this episode, Gina is joined by our guest Mike Wolf, who specializes in R&W insurance at Willis Towers Watson's M&A Group. In this episode, Colonnade Advisors addresses the following questions as related to R&W insurance: What is R&W insurance? (00:27) Jeff: "R&W insurance insures the seller and buyer from a breach of representation and warranties in the purchase agreement. " What is the difference between R&W insurance and an escrow? (01:27) Jeff: "R&W insurance avoids utilizing an escrow. An escrow is deferred consideration that is withheld to make sure that these reps and warranties survive and that they are fulfilled post-transaction." How often is R&W insurance used in transactions? (02:38) Jeff: "R&W insurance is a relatively new concept in the M&A world." Gina: "It really came into being about seven years ago. Now, it is used in almost 95% of all transactions." What is the purpose of R&W insurance? (02:48) Gina: "In a purchase agreement, there's always a section called reps and warranties regarding the company and the seller. The seller has to represent fundamentals such as that the organization is in good standing, is licensed in the state, and the sellers have the authorization to do the transaction and have the consents. " What are other typical reps and warranties in the purchase agreement? (03:45) Gina: "There is usually a representation that the capitalization is correct, all subsidiaries are listed, the financial statements are in GAAP or other accounting standards used, there is an absence of undisclosed liabilities, the contracts are true and all have been disclosed, all obligations to related parties have been disclosed, all real property has been disclosed, all intellectual property has been disclosed, listed, and truthfully identified, litigation has been disclosed, privacy and data security representations are made, taxes have been paid, and employees and labor matters have been disclosed." What is the typical coverage amount? (06:12) Gina: "The coverage is typically 10% to 15% of the purchase price. For deals under the size of $50 million, the coverage percentage may go up.” What is the typical premium for R&W insurance? Are there any other fees? (07:11) Gina: "Typically, we see premiums between 3% to 5% of the coverage amount. Economically, it does get cheaper with more coverage. Small deals are more expensive on a percentage basis; larger deals get a break. Another fee is the underwriting fee charged by the insurer, typically around $50k." Who pays for the R&W insurance? (08:50) (13:29) Gina: "This is where the negotiation comes in. Everybody has a different view. The buyer wants the seller to pay; the seller wants the buyer to pay." Jeff: "It is really a buyer's policy. No matter who is paying the premium or who is paying their share of it, it is the property of the buyer." Why do buyers prefer R&W insurance versus an escrow? (09:51) Gina: "Buyers do like R&W insurance. A breach of a representation and warranty can cause a lot of conflict between the seller and the buyer when there is an escrow, especially when the seller is continuing to manage the company. It's easier if there is a breach of representation and warranty and the buyer goes to the insurance--no conflict." What is Colonnade's typical process in representing sellers to negotiate who is paying for the R&W insurance? (11:02) Gina: "At Colonnade, when we ask for the indications of interest, the letters of intent, or bid letters, we ask the buyers to indicate whether they are going to pay the premium for the R&W insurance. Some buyers will pay the full amount, some won't, and some will pay a portion of it. It is a negotiated point. Another negotiated point is who pays the underwriting fee." What is the process of obtaining R&W insurance? (12:26) Gina: "The process starts very early. It starts when the seller is picking their legal counsel. It is important that the seller has legal counsel that has experience with R&W insurance. Also, the seller or buyer will need a broker." Why is the broker's role in obtaining R&W insurance? (13:37) Gina: "The broker will work with multiple insurance companies to get the best rate and the best coverage.” At what point during the transaction process should buyers or sellers speak with a broker? (13:37) Gina: "The proper time to speak to a broker is once the LOI has been signed and you have entered the exclusivity period." Generally, how long does it take to obtain the R&W insurance? (15:31) Gina: "Generally, it takes only one to two weeks to get through the underwriting process. For a 60-day exclusivity, contact the broker day one of 60 days, but probably around day 30 or day 35 is when the representation and warranty process in terms of getting the coverage starts." Jeff: "The timing is really important. Brokers and carriers are pretty aggressive these days, so they will move pretty quickly.” Who are the dominant carriers and brokers for R&W insurance in recent years? (19:19) Gina: "For brokers, two that I've seen a lot are Willis Towers Watson and Lockton. There are many carriers, including AIG, Zurich, Hartford, Allied, and Berkshire. The brokers will know who the right carrier is for the right types of companies.” Gina invites Mike Wolf, who specializes in R&W insurance at Willis Towers Watson's M&A Group, to share his insights. What is the typical cost of R&W insurance? (21:40) Mike: "Similar to other insurances, there is the premium, which is usually 2.6% to 3.3% of the limit purchase. Second, there is the underwriting fee, which is generally $30,000 to $50,000. Third, there are surplus lines, taxes, and fees, which is another 2% to 5% of the premium. Lastly, there is a fee to the broker to facilitate these products." What items are not covered by R&W insurance? (25:21) Mike: "There are the standard exclusions such as asbestos and PCBs, underfunded pension plans, certain types of NOLs and tax attributes. Right now, COVID-19 has become an interesting exclusion. Transfer pricing is sometimes an exclusion. In addition to the standard exclusions, there are deal-specific exclusions. Deal-specific exclusions arise either at the stage of getting the quotes or during the underwriting process." What are the common things that come up during underwriting? (30:38) Mike: "It depends on what the target does. The common themes are wage and hour, employee independent contractor issues, SLSA issues, anti-corruption and bribery." What size deal is too small for R&W insurance? (32:15) Mike: "Everybody will tell you something different, but I think $10 million." What is the typical brokerage process? (36:15) Mike: "Phase one is going out and getting the quotes, which doesn't take very long, and we don't charge any money for that. The first non-refundable fee is once the client selects an insurer, which is when the process really gets started." Featured guest bio and contact information: Scott Wolf: Email: scott.wolf@willistowerswatson.com Scott Wolf is a Client Relationship Director at Willis Towers Watson. Scott specializes in assisting strategic and financial buyers and sellers with transactional insurance, including reps and warranties insurance, tax insurance, and contingent liability insurance. Since joining Willis Towers Watson in 2017, Scott has worked on over 100 transactions involving representations and warranties insurance, ranging in enterprise value from approximately $9 million to $3 billion. Scott's prior experience includes working as an associate at DLA Piper, an associate at Gould & Ratner, and an associate at Kirkland and Ellis. Host Information: Gina Cocking: Gina Cocking serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Colonnade Advisors. She returned to Colonnade as a Managing Director in 2014. Gina began her career in investment banking at Kidder Peabody, was an analyst at Madison Dearborn Partners, and an associate at J.P. Morgan & Co. She was a Vice President at Colonnade Advisors from 1999 to 2003. She left Colonnade to gain operating experience as the Chief Financial Officer of Cobalt Finance, a specialty finance company. She went on to become the Chief Financial Officer of Healthcare Laundry Systems, a private equity-backed company for which she oversaw the successful sale to a strategic acquirer. Gina served as the Line of Business CFO – Consumer Banking and Lending at Discover Financial Services. Gina serves on the Board of Directors of CIB Marine Bancshares, Inc., a bank holding company based in Waukesha, Wisconsin, that operates banking offices in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Gina received her BA in Economics and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Additionally, Gina holds the Series 24, 28, 79, and 99 securities licenses. Jeff Guylay: Jeff Guylay is a Managing Director of Colonnade Advisors. Prior to joining Colonnade in 2000, Jeff was an investment banker at J.P. Morgan in the firm's Mergers & Acquisitions and Fixed Income Capital Markets groups in New York. He also spent several years in J.P. Morgan's Chicago office. Jeff has over 20 years of M&A and investment banking experience and has served as lead execution partner on over 25 M&A and financing transactions at Colonnade. Jeff received an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a Master of Engineering Management from the University's McCormick School of Engineering. Jeff received a BA from Dartmouth College and a BE from Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering. Jeff holds the Series 7, 24, 63, and 79 securities licenses. Jeff serves as a director of the non-profit Nurture, an organization dedicated to enhancing the nutrition and wellness of children and families. About the Middle Market Mergers & Acquisitions Podcast Get the insiders' take on mergers and acquisitions. M&A investment bankers Gina Cocking and Jeff Guylay of Colonnade Advisors discuss the technical aspects of and tactics used in middle market deals. This podcast offers actionable advice and strategies for selling your company and is aimed at owners of middle market companies in the financial services and business services sectors. Middle market companies are generally valued between $20 million and $500 million.

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