A good explanation of the “Single Appraiser: Select Now, Value Now” recommendation from my book Buy-Sell Agreements for Closely Held and Family Business Owners was recently featured in NACVA’s email newsletter. Read it here (also includes a link to the original article on Mercer Capital’s website further explaining this buy-sell agreement recommendation).
The role of the third appraiser is always to bring resolution to buy-sell agreement valuation processes. The question is how the third appraiser’s conclusion will be used to bring pricing resolution. In this post we see that one “typical” way of considering the third appraiser’s conclusion has in interesting and potentially dangerous twist for valuation processes.
Buy-sell agreements are ownership transition plans in disguise. Few business owners think about their buy-sell agreements in this light, but if your agreement is triggered, either through the death of a shareholder or otherwise, then ownership will change hands. Your buy-sell agreement is really ownership transition on autopilot. The real question is whether you, the other owners and the company will land safely when a trigger event occurs or if some or all of you will crash and burn. This short post addresses a simple question: Do you know what will happen if your buy-sell agreement is triggered?
BV Resources recently published a DLOM Survey. It had 10 questions and 202 responders. This post looks at several of the questions to infer the current state of the art in valuation regarding DLOMs. The post is longer than most but is worth your investment of time to read it and hopefully comment since the issue is key in all valuations of illiquid minority interests of companies.
Kashmiry v. Ellis is a recent Ohio appellate case regarding the buy-sell agreement portion of a shareholders’ agreement. The case reinforces a number of things I have been “preaching” about for years. If a buy-sell agreement has provided for an annual valuation by agreement of the parties, then the parties must reach agreement annually. If the agreement then provides for a valuation mechanism to determine the price following a trigger event, then the valuation process should be clearly defined and workable.
WARNING. Portions of the great majority of buy-sell agreements (or relevant portions of operating agreements) addressing the valuation of interests when trigger events occur are seriously flawed. As a result, they are destined to create time-consuming, expensive, and emotional disputes between buyers and sellers when they are triggered. Most attorneys and business owners do not seem to believe me, but recent experience only reinforces the need for this warning post.
EBITDA is at the same time the most discussed and most maligned measure of business cash flow. Simply put, EBITDA is Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization. The problem with EBITDA is that too often analysts or market participants or writers want to think that there is a single measure of cash flow that will reveal all, bringing Utopia to valuation. This post notes 11 things that EBITDA is not or will not do—and compares other cash flow measures according to the same criteria. Utopia does not exist and there is no valuation elixir. Sadly, we actually have to analyze companies to value them or buy them or sell them.
My last post described an early promissory note valuation that provided me with an object lesson in humility. This post is the follow-up to show that it is possible to learn from such lessons and to lay the groundwork for future growth. The ending of this two-part series is happier than its beginning!