Directors have it doubly hard when it comes to acquisitions.
They have to hire someone that knows how to find appropriate candidates and execute transactions successfully (this person needs a combination of very specific talents – often misrepresented in resumes) and the board must be clear about the criteria necessary in the search (the difference between needs and wants).
Talking with M & A lawyers, you will find that about 50% of deals don’t make it to closing. There are just so many things that can go wrong and it is so costly when it happens.
My saddest story of a too stinky to close deal, was the due diligence discovery of a brother-in-law that had siphoned off inventory and run his own private business by stealing from the family (for many years).
It was almost impossible to know how many employees knew about it, were involved in it, or were paid from it. Bringing that transaction to a closing table would be a bad idea for a great many reasons. The aged owner never did prosecute his family members. I can only imagine how unhappy their holiday and family gatherings were afterwards.
Another fellow chose to gift his company to his daughter’s new husband to incentivize them to move near mom and dad (just a few days before the closing was to take place).
While it cost him a considerable sum to lawyer his way out of the deal, he had the money and it just did not matter to him.
One gentleman so abused his key man, that when the poor fellow discovered how little respect he was being given (as he had successfully managed the company for the absentee owner for many years), he took a position with a competitor and scared the buyers into walking away from what had been a very nice deal for all parties.
I have witnessed other heart breaking deal failures. Many because of misrepresentations, lack of trust, outright fraud, one death and consequent legal entanglements, several mental breakdowns. Family businesses suffer from all the problems of families and business.
It’s a huge deal to walk away from a family business that has been the key part of someone’s life for 20 or 30 years.
The one thing these stories all have in common, is the significant outlay the buyers had in their search, investigation, and investment (financial and lost opportunity), and the transactions collapse came out of the blue with little or no chance to save the deal.
My recommendation is to execute an extensive search, review multiple well suited opportunities and be prepared for bad news.
If bad things happen, at least you have a backup plan and your process will only suffer a brief interruption (instead of the huge time lapse that occurs if the search only included “one” candidate.
Add your stories and comments about why deals don’t close.