M&A File 1: A good year to sell

At first blush, a fleet owner might not think of selling off their business in the current business climate. But investment banker Mark Dyer (pictured), managing director of the Transportation Practice for Dallas-based Allegiance Capital Corp., tells me there are actually several reasons why 2013 is a good year to make that move.

And Dyer knows whereof he speaks. He has 15 years of experience in the Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) field and the strategic partner arena and in that time has successfully closed over 170 transactions. What’s more, as a business owner previously Dyer went through the buy/sell process himself. That’s why, he points out, he can relate to “the challenges, concerns and critical importance of making sure both parties in the transaction are the right fit.”  

Dyer observes that “when big companies sell, they make headlines. Many are household names and the transactions are measured in billions of dollars. However, 90% of the businesses sold every year are valued at less than $500 million.

“Among those could be a fleet of 100 tank trucks located in West Texas or a fleet of 20 delivery trucks located in New York City,” he continues. “If you own one of these types of fleets and are asking yourself if this is a good time to sell your company, consider that you have already survived the worst economic downturn in recent U.S. history, clawed your way back, and have fought to retain existing customers and win new ones. So, why would you sell out now?”

According to Dyer, there are four excellent reasons why: 

1. The economy is growing again.  “If you work in the shipping and logistics industry, nobody has to tell you business is picking up.  Consumers are shopping again. Consumer confidence has increased. The stock market is higher than it was prior to the 2008 crash.  The housing market has rebounded and sales are increasing daily.  All economic predictions indicate that numerous sectors such as: retail, aerospace, energy and the auto industry are regaining traction and sales are climbing.

“As we all know, nothing moves in the U.S. without trucks being involved.  America’s success rides on American fleets.  If you are thinking about selling your fleet, you should sell when the market and sales are rising – not falling.  Potential buyers are interested in, and will pay more for, fleet operations that can demonstrate rising sales and cash flow.  Don’t miss the wave that is building in 2013.”

2. Political questions are answered.  “Last year the U.S. faced one political crisis after another.  The election, the debt ceiling, new healthcare legislation and the fiscal cliff, all created uncertainty.  Fleet owners who were thinking about selling and potential buyers held off awaiting the answers. 

“Today, most of those issues have been addressed and potential buyers are ready to move forward in acquiring new fleets and investing in new operations.”

3. Cash is available.  “Corporations have approximately $1.8 trillion in cash available for mergers and acquisitions.  Private equity groups alone have $430 billion.  Both corporations and equity groups want to put that cash to work and expand their companies through acquisitions that can help them become more profitable.

“After a slow 2012, they want and need to invest those funds in fleets that will provide a great return on their investment.”

4. Foreign investors want to invest in the U.S.   “While some areas in Europe are slowly recovering, overall the European economy is still down.  Foreign investors know the U.S. is a safe place to invest their money at the lowest risk worldwide.  The dollar is still undervalued which makes U.S. companies even more attractive. 

“Foreign companies who have been looking to invest in the U.S. see 2013 as the year to acquire profitable, middle market, American companies that offer a tremendous return on their investment. Many of these are corporations seeking fleets to transport the products they ship to the U.S. or, others who already own production facilities in the U.S. who want to add transportation capabilities.”

Dyer stresses this is an extrermely opportune time to sell a fleet business because “to command top dollar, you want to sell your business when the business is growing, the economy is expanding, political issues are minimal and cash is available.  All of these factors make 2013 a good year to take that next step.  All the factors are in the seller’s favor.”

Since selling a business is neither simple nor easy, I’ll be checking back in with Mr. Dyer In the coming weeks when he will answer some of the most common questions about selling a business, such as:

·         How do I prepare to sell my business?

·         What are the steps involved in selling a business?

·         What is my company really worth?

·         Who will pay the most for your company?

·         Why is your deal taking forever to close?

·         What will I do after the sale?

In the meantime, those seeking more immediate M&A counsel can contact Mark Dyer directly via email or by phoning him at his New York City office at 212-949-5149.


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