Bankers, Brokers and Finders, Oh My – Part 2

In Part 1 of this entry, I discussed the importance of a business owner choosing the right professional advisors to assist in the sale of the company, whether in San Jose or Palo Alto, and some of the different types of experts.

Although there is overlap, advisors that assist with businesses having a substantial sales price are investment bankers that specialize in mergers and acquisitions. These professionals often help in cleaning up a company’s operations, provide pre-acquisition strategic guidance, act as chief negotiators in the sales transaction, and provide advice and formal opinions concerning deal valuation.

Compensation is a key issue in any agreement with an advisor. Compensation can involve payment of an initial fee, such as where acquisition solicitation materials are prepared, to a commission, such as where the broker takes an active role in negotiations that are successfully closed. Brokers and investment bankers will typically request a non-refundable engagement fee and a success fee. The latter can take many forms. One form provides for a set amount, plus a percentage commission based on the transaction value. Another form provides for a commission percentage which changes with the transaction value, often providing higher percentage commissions for higher values to encourage the advisor to be more aggressive in its pricing negotiations. Exceptions or adjustments to the fee structure are often made for introductions or transactions then in process which were not sourced with the assistance of the professional. Most advisor contracts contain a “tail”, which allows the advisor to collect a success fee for transactions occurring within a certain period, typically 12 – 18 months after the advisory relationship ends. Sometimes the tail can be limited to transactions for which the introduction was made by the advisor.

Advisors can go a long way toward guiding a company and its stakeholders through a successful transaction. Management, however, can’t expect that the advisor will take care of everything involved, and must be prepared to contribute extensively toward the transaction’s success.


It is critically important that you begin early to get your company in shape to be acquired. Structure Law Group attorneys can guide you through the merger and acquisition process, and routinely works with accountants, investment bankers, business brokers and financial advisors to help business owners meet their goals.

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