Bruce Milne


We’re right now having a record number of conferences. Next week will be our biggest week ever, 11 events globally, and record attendance from Singapore to Copenhagen, from LA to Helsinki. The reason is, everyone is balancing equally that fear and greed.


Our advice is to do a global search for an acquirer. There are five benefits of doing this in a professional way.


  1. First, you preparation process will help you forge a much better model for your firm, and we all need that.
  2. The research done on buyers and competitors will help you hone and refine your positioning statement.
  3. The market’s feedback. Buyers are very open with you, they have a lot more feet on the street user base and trade name than you do, which is why you want to partner with them, but they have insights that could help you improve your value.
  4. A lot of people forget this one. Not everyone is a buyer. In fact, out of the companies that go under NDA, only about 20% actually buy. What about they others? Many of them end up becoming partners, they want to work with you in another way, which will increase your value.
  5. Fifth is exit strategy.


What’s interesting about these, is any single one of these benefits will justify the time and expense of a global partner search. Inaction right now may not be to your betterment down the road, because we don’t know where this market is going. If it goes down, you don’t want to be part of that, you don’t want to miss the peak.


Seller’s Panel


Now let’s move to our spotlight presentation, the Seller’s Panel. This, by the way, is the third of our three major events at the beginning of the year. The first is our Buyer’s Panel, we had SAP and Microsoft join us; then last month we had our PE panel and we had some of the top firms in the world, you see them here and the deals they have done. This one today is our Seller’s Panel.


Thank you do our deal makers who worked these transactions, Jon Scott, Senior VP in Amsterdam, Rob Schram, Senior VP, and Jim Perkins.


Now let’s move to our Seller’s Panel. We have three distinguished guests from three very different companies. We’ll start with William Harris, chairman of OrthoView. William joined us at a WFS event we sponsored in London and we really appreciated that.


William Harris


Hello, I’m William Harris from Avonglen, Ltd. We specialize in providing finance director, a non-executive director level support to high growth businesses. My business partner, Tim Hilton, and I, were finance director and chairman of OrthoView holdings until its sale to Materialize NV of Belgium in October 2014.


Working with CEO John Chambers and Jon Scott of Corum, we sold Orthoview to NASDAQ-listed Materialize for 8.5M pounds.


Orthoview, which is based in the science park in Southampton, England, had developed some innovative software for allowing orthopedic surgeons to plan joint replacements (hips, knees, etc) in a digital x-ray environment. We built relationships with most of the largest PAX vendors and prosthesis manufacturers around the world. The company was VC-backed and some of the funds invested were coming to the end of their terms, so it was important to them to secure an exit.


Foresight group, on behalf of the investor funds, were supportive throughout the process. In fact, the process took about 16 months, from meeting corporate finance advisors for the first time through completion.


Tim and I had been involved in a lot of buy side activity previously, so we knew what to expect and were well prepared for financial and legal due diligence, having gathered all the documents together for the data room long before we needed them.


I must admit I found it rather frustrating being on the sell side, because you feel much less in control than when you’re seeking to buy another business. So the big lesson for me was to be patient and allow the process to take its time without allowing it to get bogged down.


My advice to other executives looking at M&A, whether buying or selling, is to make sure you have strong processes in place. Insure there are sufficient resources to undertake the transaction without distracting management from running the business on a day to day basis. Remain calm, especially when it comes to crunch negotiations, and know when to break out to gather your thoughts.


Finally, have the best advisors around you possible. I like people who will give me a view, not just give me the pros and cons of a particular situation. They have been through the process many more times than I have, and I like to use their experience.


Bruce Milne


Thank you, William. What was interesting about this situation, was we met at the Director’s Club in London, where we often host our events, and William attended our Selling Up, Selling Out conference, which is our boot camp. Two words that resonated with him that are front and center in our presentations, are “you control the process.”



This is a segment from Tech M&A Monthly: Sellers Conversation (March) webcast. For more information, please visit Corum Group's Software M&A Webcast Archive