2023 M&A Forum will help business buyers and sellers navigate the road ahead

For business owners looking to sell their company, the past several years have been an exceptionally favorable market. 

Before and after the COVID-19 pandemic, low interest rates and buyers with money to spend helped push valuations higher and higher. 

The Federal Reserve may have raised interest rates sharply over the past year, but that hasn’t completely erased the seller’s market. 

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The 2023 BizTimes M&A Forum will help business buyers and sellers navigate the road ahead, delivering insights on how deals come together, lessons learned, dealing with rising interest rates and inflation, and much more. 

The program will start with a keynote conversation featuring Palermo’s Pizza chairman and chief executive officer Giacomo Fallucca, Palermo’s director of business development Jasper Fallucca and TrueMan McGee, founder of Funky Fresh Spring Rolls. 

Palermo’s acquired a majority stake in Funky Fresh in early 2022 and is now working to grow the business into a national brand. The trio will discuss how Funky Fresh got its start, McGee’s plans to find a partner, the friendship that led to the businesses coming together, Palermo’s vision to grow Funky Fresh and how acquisitions play a role in the company’s plans going forward. 

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Following the keynote, Ann Hanna, managing director and founder of Taureau Group, will lead a panel discussion of experienced business buyers and sellers. The group includes: 

  • Mike Harris, founder of Jefferson Wells, which sold to Manpower in 2001, and co-founder of Patina Solutions, which sold to Korn Ferry in 2002. 
  • Alex Lawton, CEO of The Lawton Standard Co., a firm that specializes in high alloy and complicated metallurgical castings. The company has completed a number of acquisitions and mergers over the years. 
  • Vince Shiely, partner at Lubar & Co., a private investment firm that uses a buy-and-build strategy to grow its portfolio of companies. Shiely was previously an executive at Briggs & Stratton Corp.
  • Kate Westfall, a shareholder at Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren. Westfall is a member of the law firm’s mergers and acquisitions and private equity teams.

In addition to talking about their own experiences of buying or selling companies, the panel will discuss preparing to market a company, preparing personally for a transaction, how market factors impact a deal, legal considerations, identifying the right acquisition target, keys to an acquisition strategy and lessons learned. 

In addition to individual transactions, the panel will also discuss trends in the current M&A market. A variety of factors have shaped the market including rising interest rates, which increases the cost of borrowing, potentially limiting what buyers are willing to pay; inflation and rising prices, which can cut into a company’s profitability and alter the valuation of a company; and the number of buyers and sellers in the market.

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After the panel, the program will continue with breakout sessions to help attendees go even deeper on the M&A process. 

Inge Plautz, senior vice president at Old National Bank, will moderate a panel focused on lessons from past deals, featuring Brian Adam, president and owner of Olympus Group; Joe Gibson, a former Zywave and Fiserv executive; and Terry Rowinski, chief operating officer at IMS Integrated Merchandising Solutions. 

Adam will share lessons learned from Olympus’ merger with Las Vegas-based Screaming Images in early 2022. Gibson has experience in sourcing, diligence and integration efforts from 20 add-on acquisitions and three sales to private equity buyers. Rowinski has participated in or led multiple capital raises, acquisitions and exits with angel, private equity and venture capital groups. 

Other breakout sessions will include Taureau Group’s Nick Mydlach and Corey Vanderpool, discussing factors that drive business value, and Reinhart’s Justin Voeks and Melissa Zabkowicz, highlighting emerging legal trends that every buyer and seller should consider. 

The M&A Forum takes place from 2 to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4 at the Brookfield Conference Center. More information on registration is available at biztimes.com.

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