You’ve signed your letter of intent (LOI). So what’s next? Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves as the real work on your sale begins. Due diligence commences. Prior to signing the LOI, you likely provided your buyer some limited financial diligence, enough that the buyer could determine to move forward and on what proposed terms. With the LOI execution, the buyer will now seek to learn much more about your business. Diligence will generally fall into three categories –financial, legal and operational. As a seller, the buyer will send you a very long and detailed diligence request list. Many times this request list feels very overwhelming and beyond the scope of your business. This is intentional by the buyer. The buyer is casting a very large net in an effort to uncover and learn about your business in every aspect. Your approach to due diligence likely will require a new mindset. Diligence is opposite the natural inclination of entrepreneurs. Diligence requires disclosure of all things in your business –the good items and the not so good items. However, in all events disclosure and diligence is the seller’s friend. Fully opening up your business in a complete and honest fashion allows the buyer to fully understand the mechanics of your business. The seller should not withhold or color any responses in an attempt to mitigate or spin matters. Rather, disclose what is requested and allow the buyer to ask its questions and make it own conclusions. No seller wants to be in a position where a buyer would revise its intentions had it known about an item (think fraud in the worst case). At times, a buyer will modify terms of the transaction (price, payment, etc.) based upon the diligence findings. While this is not usually positive for the seller (terms usually don’t get better), it is the opportunity for the parties to have open dialogue based on the same business knowledge. And remember as a seller, diligence is a continuing process up until closing. It is not good enough to disclose and forget. Business is ever moving, and as items change in your business, the seller has the duty to update diligence to the buyer.
ABOUT MIKE MERCURIO
Michael N. Mercurio is a leading attorney in the field of mergers and acquisitions (M&A). He serves as outside general counsel in buy-side and sell-side M&A, as well as in all business law and real estate law matters. As a strategic partner to firm clients, Mr. Mercurio regularly counsels entrepreneurial individuals and assorted entities on the many challenges, issues, and opportunities companies face throughout the business lifecycle—from start-up to eventual exit.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
Offit Kurman, one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the United States, serves dynamic businesses, individuals and families. With 15 offices and nearly 250 lawyers who counsel clients across more than 30 areas of practice, Offit Kurman helps maximize and protect business value and personal wealth by providing innovative and entrepreneurial counsel that focuses on clients’ business objectives, interests and goals. The firm is distinguished by the quality, breadth and global reach of its legal services and a unique operational structure that encourages a culture of collaboration. For more information, visit www.offitkurman.com.
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