Podcast: Episode 3 - Acquiring and exiting your business

Intrigued to know the ups and downs of buying and selling your business? Host Jonty Bloom, is joined by Kevin Batley, Managing Director, Sahara. and Gordon Carstairs, Corporate Finance Managing Director, BDO where they explore the two ends of the spectrum.



Speaker: ​Gordon CarstairsCorporate Finance Managing Director

Gordon is an experienced Corporate Finance Managing Director specialising in lead advisory to mid-market companies and private equity.

Speaker: Kevin BatleyManaging Director, Sahara. 

As Managing Director, my business life has focused around Sahara and has dominated my thinking for 30 years. The Sahara Presentations Group today is recognised as one of the leading manufacturers and distributors of AV technology around the globe.


Kevin, what led to you and your brother deciding to sell your business?

So the decision was made primarily because Nigel and I had run it for so long, we reached a certain age in life. We left the money in the company. Because we have run it very consecutively over a number of years, we were self-financing, we did not have any debts and we ran it profitably.

However, to some degree also against us as to our own costs. Because we have left the money in the company over many years. And there comes a point in life, that point I was into my 60s, when you've got to be realistic about it and recognise that we need to be able to see the fruits of our labours. 

Gordon, so far we've just been looking at selling a company but from the other side, how does it work? So when you're thinking of acquiring a company, it's not just a matter of turning up with a load of cash and deciding who's going to be a fit, is it? 

I mean, ultimately, what you need is a willing buyer and a willing seller. In addition, that is the sort of conversation you start to have internally as to who you know and where is the business that you are targeting? What is their strategy? What are their ambitions? And I guess when you're acquiring a business, there's a reason that you've targeted a certain business; it might be the geography that they're in or it might be the capability and skills that they have, which often earns a premium when people are looking to acquire because it is sort of that strategic fit.  

So let's, let's kind of sum up here. And so Kevin, what surprised you most about the buying or selling process? 

I think of two things, if I can speak frankly. When it came to all of the private equity houses I met in the UK, the thing that surprised me most is how very conservative they are. I envisaged that many of them would be quite entrepreneurial in outlook. But in fact, that wasn't what we found at all. I was very surprised that the lack of entrepreneurial spirit and the other element was time.




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