Exiting Your Business

I was meant to be in Edinburgh on Tuesday night. Fortunately for me it was cancelled on Monday, and thanks to some last minute jiggery-pokery by the girls at Exchange HQ, I was able to attend the Aberdeen Focus Dinner on Exits instead.

Ably chaired by Gary McEwen, 12 Exchange members heard from chairman Bob Keiller and George Yule on their experiences of selling a business. In Bob’s case it was Scotland’s largest ever trade sale, with PSN being acquired by Wood Group. For George it was a private equity deal for Dominion Gas. We were in very capable hands.

Despite the difference in size of the two deals, many of the experiences were similar. There were lessons there for all of us –

1. Get good advisors involved from the start
2. Prepare the business for sale – this could take upwards of three years
3. Look at the business as an acquirer would. What would you pick up?
4. Acquirers have an insatiable desire for data
5. Don’t let the sale process distract you from continuing to run the business
6. Make sure you’re selling for the right reason, to the right people. Don’t compromise your core values

We were fortunate to have John Rutherford from McGrigors and Hazel Gray from Deloittewith us, both Corporate sponsors of the Exchange, and they shared their experiences as advisors. Their key message was “don’t bring us in too late!”.

If you’ve not been to a Focus Dinner before then I would urge you to get along to one. You’ll find details of them all in the Events booklet. In my experience these are fantastic opportunities to learn in a relaxed, private environment. I paid £114 for my ticket last night. I reckon the real value of my evening would need a few zeros added on to the end of that!


Alasdair McGill

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