M&A Forum will assess dynamics of seller’s market

“It’s A Seller’s Market: How Long Will It Last?” will be the theme of the 2015 BizTimes M&A Forum.

siness owners interested in selling their companies, as well as executives interested in acquiring businesses, are invited to attend. In addition, professionals involved in the mergers and acquisitions process are encouraged to attend to learn about the latest trends in the industry.

The conference will take place on Friday, May 1, from 7:30 to 11 a.m. at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center hotel.

The keynote presenter at the event will be Andy Greenberg, chief executive officer of GF Data and a managing director of Fairmount Partners, a private investment bank in the Philadelphia area. Prior to joining Fairmount, Greenberg was a managing director in charge of M&A groups at Brown Brothers Harriman and Commerce Capital Markets. Before his move to investment banking, he was Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Commerce.

Greenberg will discuss the macro-level factors affecting values and trends in the market. He also will share confidential data on private equity-backed transactions in the $10 million to $250 million value range.

“Within the middle market, larger businesses are always worth more than comparable smaller ones, but that spread has never been greater. To some extent, that differential is being driven by the unprecedented amount of debt financing available to support buyers of businesses at the upper end of that range, say $50 million and up in deal value,” Greenberg said.

Among the topics Greenberg will address at the conference: business valuations and multiples; the use of earn-outs or seller financing to bridge gaps in business value; industry categories that are “hot” and more highly valued; and the current balance of strength between financial and strategic buyers.

Greenberg’s presentation will be followed by a panel discussion featuring buyers, sellers and professional experts who will share their experiences and expertise on the state of the mergers and acquisitions market in the region and beyond. The panelists will include:

  • David Nestingen, president and CEO, IEWC Global Solutions.
  • Steven Peterson, managing director, Brass Ring Capital Inc.
  • Alex Kowalski, owner and CEO, Performance Welding.
  • Kent Velde, president, Lakeview Equity Partners LLC.
  • Ann Hanna, MBA, CPA , managing director, Schenck M&A Solutions.
  • Eric Lenzen, shareholder and co-chair, Corporate Finance Practice Group, Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C.

Because I will moderate the panel conversation, I spoke with the panelists ahead of the conference. I asked them to share the questions they will be prepared to answer at the event. Those questions include:

  • How does a business owner know it’s time to sell?
  • Which is the trump card in buying a business – great price or right fit?
  • What is the right speed for an integration?
  • What are the criteria for the types of companies you are looking to buy?
  • Which industries or sectors are you focusing on and are there any that you are avoiding right now?
  • What is one of the biggest mistakes you have made and would caution other buyers against?
  • Given that it seems to be more of a seller’s market currently, what factors would influence you to be a buyer?
  • How has your approach to acquisitions from a buy side perspective changed in this hyper-competitive market?
  • What are the “signs” which point to this being a cyclical peak in valuations?
  • What is it that currently is driving valuations higher? What factors may cause this environment to change?
  • Given that we may be in the later stages of a high valuation market, has your approach to structuring a deal changed?
  • What can I do to maximize the value of my business when it’s sold?
  • How long do private equity firms hold businesses? And shouldn’t managers be concerned about the business being resold?
  • How would things change in my organization if I sold to a private equity firm?
  • Why should I talk with a private equity firm if it’s likely the best buyer for my company is a strategic buyer?
  • Which factors are important for me to consider in selling my business?
  • How do private equity firms compete with strategic buyers?
  • What kind of valuation can I get?
  • I’m not ready to sell my business now, but I don’t want to miss out on a great market. What are my options?
  • Should I hire an investment banker or deal directly with buyers?
  • What do private equity firms do when they get ready to sell a business?
  • Is the M&A bubble on the verge of popping?

If the answers to any of those questions would be valuable to you, we invite you to attend the breakfast.

The panel discussion will be followed by breakout sessions covering a variety of M&A issues, including danger zones and pitfalls in a deal, the deal process from a monetary standpoint, and maximizing value in a business.

To register to attend, visit www.biztimes.com/maforum.

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