How To Finance A Business Acquisition in Canada
While the terms m&a financing and capital acquisitions conjures up visions of having to be a Bay Street / Wall Street heavyweight when it comes to sophisticated financial knowledge the reality is that financing to buy a business in the small to medium-sized sector of the Canadian business landscape actually requires a healthy element of ' do it yourself ' when it comes to acquisitions of competitors, synergistic companies, etc. The proper source of financing may often mean a number of appropriate solutions must be analyzed and investigated.
Companies consider financing a business acquisition because they want to increase revenues non organically or in some cases penetrate new geographical markets. So the right capital to fund a purchase and then operate the business is key.
Very few business owners can complete an all-cash deal, even in a good economic environment, much less a pandemic! Therefore financing buying a business with the proper and right type of debt allows you to not give up equity - that equity often called the most expensive form of financing. So if you have a good target company with understandable profit, sales and cash flow generation ability acquisition financing through borrowing is a recommended strategy.
Don't however underemphasize the importance of a solid external team to assist you with the expertise you need. Let's examine some solid ' need to know ' info that will help the Canadian business owner and financial manager address any acquisition successfully.
The goal of your purchase from a finance viewpoint is to ensure you have what is known as a ' capital structure ' in place that allows for a smooth takeover and continued growth of your target company. So from a business finance viewpoint, you want to focus on the right mix of debt and equity in the final structure that allows a firm to both operate and grow. The ' cobbling together ' of that right mix of finance leads to successful business acquisitions. In some cases you are integrating a business into the new business, which is even more of a challenge.
The value you are placing on the target acquisition is critical. It's that buying price that ensures you are paying for true value and worth. There are many different measures relating to a final valuation and financing an acquisition - typically revolving around sales, earnings, levels of depreciation, and a final calculation of what valuators call 'normalization' of the current earnings. This ' normalization process' takes out any expenses that won't incur in the future again, therefore providing a true ' earning power '.
Typical Acquisition Finance Structure / Financing The Purchase Of An Existing Business
Those measures of valuation we described are typically calculated as ' multiples' of the valuation points in question . Note that multiples vary in each industry allowing the purchaser to make an 'apples to apples' comparison of what he or she is buying. For example a company in a certain industry's sale price might be expressed as a ' 5 times multiple ' of current earnings before items such as depreciation which is a non-cash expense.
Business Acquisition Loans In Canada / Types Of Business Acquisition Lenders
A sample capital structure for financing acquisitions might look as follows:
Selling Financing component
Cash Flow Loan
Owner equity component
As a buyer you need to determine what the potential earning power and sales revenues might be in future years, therefore allowing you to arrive at that ' multiple ' we have discussed. It is important to understand that lenders will always look very carefully at the ratio of debt and seller financing and owner equity to ensure they are in line with lender requirements.
Naturally the more a borrower puts in the less he or she has to borrow, which underwriters view as a buyer's commitment, or, in the language of the people 'skin in the game'!
The debt you incur in a transaction is usually a combination of senior debt which covers the main assets of the business and typically will include operating facilities for accounts receivable and inventory that arise out of future sales.
Today many business people consider asset-based lending, also known as asset-backed financing as a solid alternative to traditional Canadian chartered bank financing. By lending aggressively against equipment, receivables, inventory and real estate a transaction can often be completed to the approval of the purchaser.
Subsets of asset-based lending such as accounts receivable finance and inventory loans are key solutions to a final lending mix. The right a/r finance and inventory finance will ensure you have a handle on your ' cash conversion cycle ', namely the amount of time it takes a dollar to flow through your business, and we can assure you that timeline varies within different industries.
Revolving inventory loans, based on the value of the inventory, provide the cash to pay your suppliers. It takes time to convert the inventory into sales, use the value of this asset to help speed the process. Available in conjunction with accounts receivable financing or as a standalone retail inventory loan.
In some cases, even in a management buyout scenario a bank or commercial finance firm will consider a leveraged buyout, essentially used the assets of the target company as security for a loan/loan. Naturally, in these cases, assets must be strong, and there should be solid evidence of historical cash flow to support the much higher than usual leverage ratios.
Financing from a senior lender, either a bank or a commercial alternative finance firm, will bring you, the purchaser, into the world of ratios, covenants, and personal guarantees. A shorter-term loan will be less restrictive in nature. Lenders will typically investigate personal credit history and credit scores of the buyer to help them feel owners run their personal financial lives in a reasonable fashion.
At 7 Park Avenue Financial, we will always tend to investigate the ability to identify ' seller financing ' as a part of the acquisition finance strategy. The strategy can often make or break a deal, and is typically viewed positively by lenders. It is simply the sellers agreement to e apid a percentage of the acquisition price at a future point in time. The bottom line? Less borrowing is required. Structures of the seller finance, also known as ' VTB ' or vendor take-back can vary but often are in the 10-20% range and have various forms of creativity around payment terms. You might also hear this term is called ' earn out '. Three different ways to say the same thing!
There might be conditions tied to the earn-out, so in most cases a lower rate of interest that current market lending rates. It is the epitome of a ' motivated seller '. In many of the transactions we see at 7 Park Avenue Financial seller owner and or management stays on for an agreed upon amount of time to ensure a smooth transition.
The amount of proper financing that you can generate, internally and externally (mostly externally!) will ultimately play a large part in the size of the company with whom you might be acquiring, or merging. Here is where valuations come into play and anywhere from 30 - 50% of the final price that you agree on might in fact have to represent a cash type scenario.
In some cases there is a shortage of the total term loan to get a transaction approved and closed, so some for of ' mezzanine financing ' will have to be considered. That financing will cover the gap created between borrowing power, equity, and the sale price. Mezzanine financing is often unsecured, relying solely on future cash flow generation, so interest rates on cash flow loans are more expensive, but, again, similar to seller financing, can make or break a deal.
For smaller transactions in Canada many companies consider the Government of Canada Small Business Loan program as one of the methods of financing acquisitions.
Naturally there are a thousand stories in the naked city, as many firms are acquired simply for the reason that they are not profitable for the current ownership. This does bring up a very key point though, which is that if you are looking at acquiring a firm that is in trouble, losing money, losing market share/sales etc then in fact a lot less cash is required for the transaction. However at that point you'll obviously have other challenges to address.
If there is a solid piece of advice we can give to the Canadian business owner and financial manager it’s to start a financing strategy around your acquisition early on. That final capitalization of the proper amount of debt and equity is critical.
When contemplating bank financing for business acquisition financing in Canada a solid, realistic and succinct business plan is required. We see many plans from clients that are far less than ' succinct ' and therefore raise more questions than answers.
So what does one in fact have to demonstrate to the bank? A good start is how your firm will operate the business - so a good examination of the financials and any key issues around the seasonality of sales and cash flows, customer concentration, production, and credit terms are key.
If the business you are acquiring does in fact have challenges it's clearly a good time to demonstrate how you will implement controls and changes around those challenges.
At 7 Park Avenue Financial our due diligence process spends a good amount of time on assuming proper levels of sales and cash flow, often in conjunction with a business plan we prepare to support your transaction. Spending valuable time on structuring financing your an acquisition will lead to optimal performance going forward. The right amount of flexibility in your finance may be well required down the road.
Spend a lot of time considering the amount of leverage you will ultimately have when acquisitions are completed. It's tempting, of course, to become highly leverage but this is the classic double-edged sword of business financing, and don’t think that high leverage will guarantee higher returns to shareholders, as that debt you are now carrying can, in fact, become a day to day nightmare down the road if not managed or financed properly.
Business acquisition financing in Canada is about finding a solid opportunity, analyzing your transaction carefully, and closing with the best financing possible based on your industry profile of debt and overall capitalization. Speak to a trusted, credible and experienced Canadian business financing advisor who can assist you with acquisitions that make sense- financially!
7 Park Avenue Financial :
South Sheridan Executive Centre
2910 South Sheridan Way
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7 Park Avenue Financial provides value-added financing consultation for small and medium-sized businesses in the areas of cash flow, working capital, and debt financing.
Business financing for Canadian firms, specializing in working capital, cash flow, asset based financing, Equipment Leasing, franchise finance and Cdn. Tax Credit Finance. Founded 2004 - Completed in excess of 100 Million $ of financing for Canadian corporations.
Stan has had a successful career with some of the world’s largest and most successful corporations. He is an experienced
business financing consultant.
Prior to founding 7 Park Avenue Financial in 2004 his employers over the last 25 years were, ASHLAND OIL, ( 1977-1980) DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORPORATION, ( 1980-1990) ) CABLE & WIRELESS PLC,( 1991 -1993) ) AND HEWLETT PACKARD ( 1994-2004 ) He is an expert in Canadian Business Financing.
Stan has over 40 years of business and financing experience. He has been recognized as a credit/financial executive for three of the largest technology companies in the world; Hewlett-Packard, Digital Equipment and Cable & Wireless. Stan has had in-depth, hands-on experience in assessing and evaluating thousands of companies that are seeking financing and expansion. He has been instrumental in helping many companies progress through every phase of financing, mergers & acquisitions, sales and marketing and human resources. Stan has worked with startups and public corporations and has many times established the financial wherewithal of organizations before approving millions of dollars of financing facilities and instruments on behalf of his employers.
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