Many infrequent acquirers learn “how to do M&A” when they experience live transactions. Learning by doing does not provide a company with an adequate understanding of how M&A works and leads to costly mistakes. The investment banking firms that introduce deals to companies are in business to close those transactions, not to educate the companies about how everything works. However, with such a large number of failing M&A transactions, companies would benefit from building more understanding and capacity beforehand to conduct the kinds of acquisitions they want and need to reach their strategic goals.
In the absence of an existing in-house M&A team, many firms’ only option thus far has been to educate their team by sending one or two executives off to a week-long training program at a prestigious university at a cost of $10K – $15K per person. The team is expected to return and apply what they have learned to their company’s M&A processes. The problem with training only one or two persons is that effective M&A typically require many more company members to have expertise in M&A. Further, there is no university located in the Southeast that currently offers such classes.
Watermark addresses this problem with an in-house training program for companies in the form of a one-day M&A Master Class. Our classes allow a company’s whole team that is or will be involved in a transaction to attend the training together. The fee for the Master Class is a fraction of the cost of the week-long university classes. This is a cost-effective training for a larger team conducted on the company’s premises. With everyone attending at one time, teams are more likely to build sustainable capacity, dialogue on the issues, and collaborate to implement best practices.
During the seminar, the M&A Master Class takes participants through three core phases that must be mastered to win at acquisitions: the preparation, transaction, and integration phases. In the preparation phase the class walks participants through seven sequential steps that help an acquirer get very specific about acquisition criteria, markets, and specific companies that, if acquired, would fit the company’s overall strategy. In the transaction phase, participants learn best practices around key systems of the deal itself: valuation, synergy analysis, negotiations, financing the transaction, general and cultural due diligence, deal design and integration planning. Finally, in the integration phase participants learn nine steps that the most successful acquirers follow to successfully integrate acquisitions within a two-year time period.
Watermark also offers the Master Class on a city-wide basis several times a year. In this class, the same content is taught; however, different companies attend the same class, by sending one or two team members each.