How to Approach the Usual Suspects in M&A

“How often do you get involved in a situation where a company is pursuing a ‘usual suspect’? And how do you handle it?”

This question was asked after Capstone’s presentation on “How to Pick Top-Notch Markets” by Project Manager Matt Craft and Managing Director John Dearing at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s VALET spring meeting.

This is an excellent question because the situation is extremely common. A “usual suspect” is a company that easily comes to mind because you already have an existing relationship. It may be a supplier, competitor or industry partner or it may be a company owned by your CFO’s sister. Naturally, because “usual suspects” are the easiest prospects to find, many companies begin their M&A search with them.

There’s nothing wrong with looking at them, but because of your pre-existing relationship it may be difficult to remain objective. In addition, we find that many times clients are only considering one familiar company and no other options.

When studying a usual suspect, we recommend taking a step back to remain strategic and objective throughout the M&A process. Use strategic criteria to objectively assess the company. How does the company align with your strategy? Is it really a good fit? Or have you been blinded by love?

We also recommend considering at least two other companies so you have three options for the sake of comparison. Without a comparison, by default the usual suspect will be the best and only prospect. If it’s truly the best prospect, it will withstand the scrutiny of criteria and comparison to other companies. You may even find that one of the other options is actually a better fit for your company

We know it’s difficult to say “no” to the usual suspect, especially if you have your heart set on it, but remember, acquisition is a huge undertaking. You cannot afford to make a decision based on emotion or incomplete information. Consider multiple options and use strategic criteria to make the best decision about your acquisition prospects.

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Learn more by attending our webinar “How to Pick Top-Notch Markets.”  Click here to register.

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