M&A is often characterized by incomplete if not irrational thinking

The Globe and Mail featured an article on mergers and acquisitions with Canadian companies and a professor from Wilfred Laurier. It is worth a read:
There are many reasons for companies to acquire another business and merge it with their own. One reason that companies needing the new, new thing is to use acquisitions as a substitute for their own R&D.For example, Vancouver-based Flickr, a company offering a photo-sharing application, was acquired by Yahoo Inc. for the reported sum of $35 million. Although Yahoo has in-house R&D, they recognized that by acquiring unique technologies of startups similar to Flickr, it can build market share quickly.The objective for the acquisition of smaller companies set by Yahoo in the Flickr case, or by other larger firms such as Google or Blackberry, has been carefully defined. John Banks teaches MBA students about M&A at Waterloo, Ont.’s Wilfrid Laurier University, and he reinforces the importance of identifying the purpose of buying a business.“Regardless of how attractive the deal price or fortuitous the opportunity, it is essential that the impact the acquisition is intended to have on the firm’s strategic direction be both understood and realistic for the transaction to be truly successful,” explains John Banks.Companies that use the M&A process to supplement their R&D must have access to rigorous corporate finance skills in order to be true to their mandate.  The assessment needs to be especially meticulous since research shows that this particular aspect of M&A is often characterized by incomplete if not irrational thinking,” says Banks.A smaller firm is often attractive as an acquisition target because it can have the flexibility of a speed boat that manoeuvers rapidly around larger ships. Amar Varma, founder of Xtreme Labs – which provides mobile experiences to firms – and who mentored Rypple and its acquisition by Salesforce, says, “There is the ability for a small company to be nimble and to not be hampered by bureaucracy. They can do R&D at a quicker pace and without legacy products.”
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Jacoline Loewen is a director at Crosbiewhich focuses on succession advice for family businesses and closely held small to medium-sized enterprises. Crosbie develops customized strategies, particularly in relation to M&A, financing and corporate strategy matters. Ms. Loewen is also the author of Money Magnet: How to Attract Investors to Your Business. You can follow her on Twitter@jacolineloewen.
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Successful leaders can sow the seeds for the downfall of a family business

Family business can sound perfect but the patriarch can become an unchallenged tyrant without them realizing the level of their own power. Harvard Business Review has a terrific article on this topic by Josh Baron and Rob Lachenauer :

Sometimes it's the most successful leaders who sow the seeds for the downfall of a family business.
Carl was one of the most talented leaders of his generation. When he took over the family business, it was a struggling $10 million automotive parts distributor. Now after thirty years of being at the helm, Carl has developed a $2 billion company that is a leader in logistical services to hospitals in Europe, and also owns four other distribution businesses. At one point, Carl had 48 direct reports and had personally hired each one. At the same time, he cared deeply about his family and made sure that everyone was well taken care of.
But there was a darker side to Carl's success.
Although his first act was one of the best ever, he became a "problem patriarch," a very hard-driving alpha leader who hired superb talent within the family and the business — and then consistently undermined that talent.
He drove his sister out of the company by placing her in a succession of dead-end jobs. His uncle resigned from the board saying that he wouldn't be part of a "paper board," in which Carl effectively made all the key decisions. Carl responded by maneuvering to buy most of his uncle's shares. In the process, he created a leadership vacuum that threatened the very legacy he had worked so hard to build. Read more.

Jacoline Loewen is a director at Crosbie, which focuses on succession advice for family businesses and closely held small to medium-sized enterprises. Crosbie develops customized strategies, particularly in relation to M&A, financing and corporate strategy matters. Ms. Loewen is also the author of Money Magnet: How to Attract Investors to Your Business. You can follow her on @jacolineloewen and @crosbiecompany

PE Hub on Mergers and Acquisitions Renaissance - Colin W. Walker

For those of you interested in what is happening in the Mergers and Acquisitions market here in Canada, Kirk Falconer at PE Hub has a very good article posted on the Thomson Reuter website.

When will the highly anticipated revival in the merger and acquisition market take place? How much longer will venture capital and PE firms with aging portfolio assets have to wait before strategic investors are ready and willing to buy them?
These questions have been asked repeatedly since the 2007 financial crisis cast a pall over global M&A deal-making. Judging from the data, the wait for a substantial turnaround will be a little longer yet. Preliminary data released by Thomson Reuters (publisher of peHUB Canada) last week show that worldwide M&A activity in the first half of 2013 totaled US$979 billion, down 9% from the first half of last year. In fact, it was the slowest year-to-date period for international transactions since 2009.
The situation is, of course, much the same in Canada’s M&A market. In the first three months of the year, Crosbie & Co. reports that deal-making fell back to 2009 levels. This followed mixed results for 2012 as a whole, when transactions were fewer compared to 2011, but attracted higher values – a total of $183.4 billion, up 15% year over year.

Colin W. Walker, managing director at Crosbie, in a news release cites “macro-economic uncertainty” as one of the chief “culprits” behind softer M&A conditions in early 2013. 
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Colin W. Walker has extensive experience in the full range of Crosbie's investment banking and direct investing activities. For over 20 years, he has played a leading role in numerous transactions including acquisitions, divestitures, financings, restructurings and financial opinions. Additionally, he managed the firm's initiative as Investment Advisor and Portfolio Manager to First Ontario Fund and has been a Director of a number of private and public companies, as well as Director of the Toronto Chapter of the Turnaround Management Association. He joined Crosbie from UBS Canada where he managed relationships and structured transactions for a diverse range of mid-market and corporate clients. He holds a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering & Management degree from McMaster University and an MBA from the Michael G. DeGroote School of Business.

Spicy foods poised for growth as global demand rises

The global popularity of spicy foods, combined with the trend towards ethnic foods in the US, makes products like Tabasco pepper sauce poised for growth. With global population growing, particularly in India and China, food companies are in demand by buyers.

Spots of activity are happening across the ethnic food industry in Canada, which is highly fragmented, with a wide scattering of companies making revenues from $10-million to $100-million. These owners are often running lifestyle businesses and they serve a niche market, such as tropical fruit drinks and spicy snacks for Asian customers.


The range of consumers clamouring for exotic tastes such as coconut water or tandoori-barbeque flavoured chips is expanding. Big companies, including Pepsi and Loblaws, are private-label innovating in this segment. Owners of ethnic food companies are finding their products moving from the back shelves to front-and-centre at the big-box retailers and gas stations to catch the consumer eye.



There are few large ethnic food players in Canada to keep a good balance of power with the corporate retailers and wholesalers who have been consolidating. The opportunity is ripe for a large company to roll-up the smaller ones and create a significant ethnic food business.

Read the whole article.

Jacoline Loewen is a director at Crosbiewhich focuses on succession advice for family businesses and closely held small to medium-sized enterprises. Crosbie develops customized strategies, particularly in relation to M&A, financing and corporate strategy matters. Ms. Loewen is also the author of Money Magnet: How to Attract Investors to Your Business. You can follow her on Twitter @jacolineloewen.

Pressure increases on the Food Industry to keep down prices

In the current uncertain economic environment, beverage businesses need to stay sharp if they are to generate the growth and profitability on which their future depends.
Whether your interests are domestic, regional or global, we have on-the-ground professionals in developed and ‘rapid-growth’ emerging markets and can bring the resources of a global team, coordinated through a single point of contact.
Our strong commitment to the sector means we can offer in-depth knowledge, practical experience, strong industry relationships and genuine global reach to help you fulfill your objectives.
Take a closer look at some of the areas for you to focus on to improve your company and supply chain.

Mergers and Acquisitions Deals are Changing.

Dramatic shifts are taking place in the world of mergers and acquisitions. The types of deals that are taking place – and the way they’re financed and executed – are changing significantly.
Your business may be looking to divest assets or to acquire assets at competitive prices to increase your market share. Either way, you need to analyze the value and risks of a deal, to understand if you have a solid business case for moving forward.

What one question would you ask the CEO?

Interesting question - what would you ask to get the CEO to show their true abilities?

From HBR: Have you ever pondered what you'd ask the CEO if you were made chairman of the board for 10 minutes and could pose one question? You'd want to make it count. Nothing about markets or strategies — CEOs have canned answers for that kind of thing. You'd want a question that would strip away the cloak of invincibility and reveal the CEO's innermost fears. A question that could tell you a lot about the company's potential under this leader. Read more.