Thursday, October 31, 2013

Warren Buffett's Criteria for Acquisitions - Thoughts for Selling Firms

In last week's post, I commented on Business Risk, Financial Risk and Attractive LBO Candidates.  Today, I just want to note the correspondance of many  of these items with those stated by Berkshire Hathaway.  The items noted on their website are quite similar (with the exception of concentrating on large companies).  From their website:


We are eager to hear from principals or their representatives about businesses that meet all of the following criteria:
  1. Large purchases (at least $50 million of before-tax earnings),
  2. Demonstrated consistent earning power (future projections are of no interest to us, nor are "turnaround" situations), 
  3. Businesses earning good returns on equity while employing little or no debt, 
  4. Management in place (we can't supply it),
  5. Simple businesses (if there's lots of technology, we won't understand it),
  6. An offering price (we don't want to waste our time or that of the seller by talking, even preliminarily, about a transaction when price is unknown)."
These criteria tie in very nicely with what we noted in last week's post: Strong stable companies with good management and predictable cash flows make excellent targets for leveraged finance.  

Buffett concludes with his typical humor:

"Charlie and I frequently get approached about acquisitions that don't come close to meeting our tests: We've found that if you advertise an interest in buying collies, a lot of people will call hoping to sell you their cocker spaniels. A line from a country song expresses our feeling about new ventures, turnarounds, or auction-like sales: "When the phone don't ring, you'll know it's me."

(Don't forget the upcoming Acquisition Finance Course in Amsterdam.)

All the best,


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