Corum has polled tech CEOs at their events all around the world ‒ from Boston to Singapore ‒ asking
What is your biggest concern about running an M&A process? Overwhelmingly CEOs answered timing and valuation. CEOs worry is this the right time to sell? Is this the right time to find a strategic partner? Underlying these worries is the haziness of predicting the future of the tech M&A market – a market that is currently seeing a record number of transactions in various tech sectors and high average valuations. A common question Corum gets from CEOs is how long will the current boom tech M&A market last? Recently, financial markets have experienced volatility due to the continued impacts of the COVID pandemic and political turmoil across the world. Although that volatility has not hit privately held software and IT companies in a substantial way, it does cause tech company CEOs to worry about the future and leads them to the question whether they will get the best valuation for their company if they pursue a merger or acquisition now or later.
The issue of timing is particularly crucial for CEOs who are in the so-called “baby boomer” generation, people who are in their mid-60’s and 70’s. They don’t have the luxury of waiting too long to pursue an M&A. If they sell now they may lose out on a better deal later if the tech M&A market gets even better. If they wait, they may also be able optimize aspects of their business that are highly desirable to potential buyers. But if the market experiences a downturn, potential buyers may disappear and valuations will likely go down. And if the market experiences a sharp downturn, in other words, it becomes a bear market, it could take years for the market to recover – time that most baby boomers don’t have. Corum CEO, Bruce Milne, points out that trying to sell a tech company in a bear market can be devastating. He says, "You could lose 40% of your value in just the first six months. And it gets worse ‒ you may not even be able to sell at all."
Given these concerns, what should a CEO contemplating an M&A do? A reasonable approach is to pursue an M&A process now ‒ even if you’re a CEO concerned about the timing ‒ and pursue it with a trusted advisor such as Corum. There are very good reasons for doing that. Chief among them is you’ll be able to calibrate what your company is worth in the current market. Your company is worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it. If your company has the attributes desired by another company or investor such as assets that are strategically important for another company to add, or growth potential than an investor seeks, it puts you in a good position to get an attractive offer for your company. But who are those buyers and how do you approach them? How do you know your company has those desired assets or the growth projections that buyers are looking for? How do you know what potential buyers will want to know about your company? What is the best way to present your company to those potential buyers? Addressing those issues is not easy. Even if you know what to do, it could be very time consuming ‒ time you need to run your business.
That is where an experienced M&A advisor like Corum can be very helpful. Corum's disciplined M&A process, based on intensive research of the market and market trends, the world's largest database of proprietary buyer information, and a team of experienced CEOs who have run, sold, and bought companies, identifies, qualifies, and contacts the right potential buyers for your company. The process is designed to create an auction environment where multiple buyers contend for purchasing your company, a situation that is proven to maximize valuations. The process also prepares you for those buyers, making sure that the information those buyers want about your company is available and that you'll be able to position your company in the right way.
But what if that process doesn't get you the offer you want? What if market conditions are not right for an optimal valuation or if your company isn't well positioned to the current market? In that case, going through the M&A process is still valuable. At the very least, you'll determine what your company is actually worth in the current market. You'll also get the feedback you need to make your company more attractive to buyers. Perhaps you need to tune your company's business model or enhance your product portfolio. Maybe you need to improve your company's financials and future growth projections. Also, you'll make contacts during the process that can open doors for future business.
You even have the option of taking advantage of Corum's hiatus program which allows you to temporarily step out of the M&A process with the intention of returning to it at a later time when conditions are more favorable to get the results you want. You can use the intervening time to address issues that stand in the way of getting a good offer. And when you return to the process, all the research and preparatory work that has already taken place goes back into effect.
Remember, the goal is to get an attractive offer for your company. So even if you're concerned about timing, now is a good time to pursue an M&A process. The benefits of doing that ‒ especially with an experienced M&A advisor like Corum ‒ will justify the time and expense.