Strategic Finance? 7 Deadly Sins infect merger boom!

How many times have we heard about a failed marriage, scuttled by pride … greed … jealousy … envy … or other misdeeds flowing from the interminably deep well of human shortcomings? Too many, I’m sure, but those denizens of the 7 Deadly Sins brigade also besiege the world of mergers and acquisitions.

I haven’t written about this enough, I realize, as I read the M&A Losers in $10 Trillion Deal Binge …. providing yet one more example of the failed mergers that incite shareholder rebellions. We know the road to hell is paved with good intentions, so that doesn’t count for much. We expect CEOs and their directors to exercise their fiduciary responsibility to US by making sound decisions that are not scuttled by some array of the 7 Deadly Sins. (more…)

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“There you go again” ….

I think that line is attributed to Ronald Reagan’s impressive debate performance against Jimmy Carter in 1980 … but just the same, it applies to the stream of recent articles about business lending in the middle market.

The WSJ discusses a report that banks have eased their credit standards in recent months. Of course, there’s no metrics to confirm that, or what it means … and you’ll waste a lot of energy finding middle market businesses that concur. More realistically, there is little demand for credit because businesses have little confidence in economic growth in the near term. (more…)

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“We’re not an eleemosynary institution!”

That’s the phrase one of my oldest and closest banker friends always used – he became the President of a major division of a major bank before he retired. You may not know that word – and it’s at least a “50-center”, maybe more, but he loved it and used it on me all the time.

… pause … have you looked it up yet or are you waiting for me to tell you? … come on ….

Yeah, that’s what I thought. Okay. It means charitable, as in “we’re not a charitable organization” … meaning we do have a few basic rules:

  • We expect to get paid … so we’d like to confirm that your projections provide sufficient free cash flow so you can actually pay us back.
  • We like to have some collateral in case something goes wrong.
  • We’d like to see some owners’ capital invested in the business so we know we’re in this together.
  • We’ll probably ask for your personal guaranty, too, to be sure you’re dedicated like the “bacon” and not just committed like the “egg”.
  • It would be nice if you had some kind of demonstrable track record and relevant management experience so we can assess whether you know what you’re doing in the business you’re in now.

Those are the basic rules … which is why I’m getting pretty tired of the endless news articles and blog posts about the lack of adequate capital for small business. (more…)

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Show me the money!

You wouldn’t think it would be too hard to sort out whether this is no small business lending because there is no capital … or because small businesses aren’t asking. There’s a lot here so keep reading if you want to gain a better understanding of what’s REALLY going on.

The Wall Street Journal recently carried an article, Big Bank’s Lending Programs Yielding Few Results So Far, which summarizes efforts by big banks like Goldman Sachs Group, Citigroup and Bank of America, under pressure from the Obama Administration, to launch programs to increase lending to entrepreneurs. Most of these programs are Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI’s) – oh, great, another financial algorithm – which primarily lend to small businesses in low income areas – a worthy program but hardly a program targeted at the broad small business community.

Three days earlier in, A Credit Crunch That Lingers, the WSJ pointed out that only half of small businesses that tried to borrow last year got what they needed according to (more…)

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