What business brokers are saying about the prospects for 2010

December 31st, 2009 by Chris St Cartmail

At the Business Sale Report we have undertaken a straw poll of the business brokers and other professionals in the small to mid-market M&A industry to see how they thought 2010 would be for the buying and selling of businesses. Subscribers to the report can see who said what. So here are some of the opinions of the movers and shakers in the industry:

“Investors seem to be thinking that 2010 will be an improvement on 2009. People who have access to liquidity are making tentative signs they are willing to invest in the middle of the year when the situation should be clearer. Investors who can be creative when it comes to financing a deal are in a great position.”

“At the moment there appears to be a disconnect between the real business world and how the bankers who are funding businesses are operating. Recently there have been more signs of banks lending but they are only lending to people with a good track record, and also really only looking at one project at a time. However, some banks are lending at 75% debt for equity. The February bank reporting season will be important for the confidence of M&A in 2010. Asset-based businesses and those involved in the Internet I expect to be the best M&A prospects for 2010.”

“The market in businesses valued at between £1m and £2m has seen growth so far in the last quarter. I am therefore very positive about the outlook for 2010. People are looking to sell at the moment and funding is not too difficult for the right deal.”

“I am expecting 2010 to be better than 2009 but the outlook for 2011 is more uncertain as there may be more forced sellers then and prices for businesses will fall.”

“Some businesses are happy to sell assets to strengthen balance sheets. There will always be deals to be done but I envisage more forced sellers. My advice to anyone looking to buy a business in this market is to stick with what you know, as there are good deals to be had.”

“If unemployment hits 3 million then we will be in trouble. There are simply not enough smaller businesses on the market at the moment and demand has outstripped supply for good businesses. People are desperate to buy for turnover, as they want to exit in 5-10 years. People are not coming to the market as they think they will not get a good price. If the business is a good one and there are synergies with the buyer then businesses are selling for decent money.”

“There is no appetite for acquisitions of businesses with a high premium on goodwill. The banks have a policy that they will only lend on the value of goodwill if assets of the same value are used as collateral for the loan. I cannot see a revival of fortunes for engineering businesses for 2010. However I believe that Health and Safety businesses and those involved in the medical sector will be in demand next year.”

“I expect 2010 to be better for buying businesses but we are starting from a very low base. With a low volume of private equity transactions it is hard to gauge how strong the Limited Partnerships will be going into next year, as they haven’t really been tested. An expected change in Government will no doubt cause some uncertainty for the prospects in 2010.”

So there we have it, a mixture of positive and negative sentiment on the prospects for 2010. We certainly agree that any business with a good asset base and with good contracted positive cashflow will be a good prospect. To find out who said what, you will need to subscribe to the report. We believe that 2010 will be a good opportunity for buying businesses as long as you know exactly what you are doing as mistakes will be very costly. Make sure you have done good due diligence, have a good relationship with your funding partners and be ready to move quickly.

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