The AM&AA Summer Conference, held in Chicago, IL, brought in over 350 attendees including M&A Advisors, Private Equity Firms, Investment Bankers, Family Offices and other private investment professionals. The conference opened with a discussion on the JOBS Act and how it will affect and potentially benefit M&A professionals. Chris Tyrrell of Crowdfund Intermediary Regulatory Advocates (CFIRA) gave insight into how the JOBS Act will bring more capital into private markets from additional and different investors and allow companies to stay private longer.
I’m sure everyone will agree that Harvard Business School lecturer Steven Rogers made a huge impact at this year’s conference. His keynote presentation was truly engaging with much audience participation. Rogers spoke on the importance of strategic thinking, which he defined as differentiation, and entrepreneurship in acquisitions. Another highlight of the conference was the networking boat cruise along the Chicago River.
A panel discussion on the current state of middle-market M&A was moderated by Graeme Frazier of GF Data. Experienced M&A professionals gave insight into recent activity, current valuation, deal flow trends, structuring trends and predictions for the year ahead. Jim Korreck of Generational Equity expressed the need for more due diligence from sellers as many deals fall through due to the lack thereof. Lisa Wright of Bureau Van Dijk provided extremely valuable observations of the market in the U.K., which differs drastically from the U.S. Wright claimed that seller due diligence is fairly easy in the U.K. since companies report their data directly to the government.
Brian Steffens of Storm Industries led a panel discussion on the emergence of Family Offices and how they have changed the way in which they invest. Sara Hamilton, CEO of Family Office Exchange, noted a large shift in attitude concerning diversification since 2008. Hamilton also observed that many family offices have direct investing mandates, but the staff devoted to Private Equity is small, signaling an opportunity for like-minded families to collaborate.
A panel discussion on how M&A professionals can utilize intangible assets was moderated by Mary Adams of Smarter-Companies. Adams made it clear that intangibles are their own asset class and should be used as collateral when selling a business. Adams also noted that quantitative measurements are important when selling a business. She claimed that using numbers when describing intangible assets make them appear more real to people.
Other discussions included the different sources of debt capital and which make the most sense to choose for your deal, the availability of and differences between cash flow and asset-based loans, the growth of independent sponsors, and M&A strategies for corporate growth. The conference ended with the much-anticipated Deal Bash, allowing intermediaries and investment bankers the opportunity to present deals.
Article written by: Paola Trentadue
July 22, 2013