Caan and Herman to shake up business sales
Entrepreneur James Caan and corporate financier Paul Herman have launched bluebox, an advisory service that they believe will redefine how businesses prepare for sale.
Paul Herman, CEO of bluebox, says: “Currently 70pc-90pc of business sales fail. This causes distress to business owners and their families, because of the emotion involved and the significant costs associated with an aborted sale.
“Innovation in the corporate finance market is long overdue. bluebox provides a service to business owners well in advance of sale; to help prevent the sale process falling over, by identifying any areas of weakness and providing the steps necessary to enhance sale value. The difference to any existing offering is the structured approach we are taking and the focus, to begin with, on the pre-sale planning rather than on the big corporate finance fees at the point of the actual sale.”
The bluebox process has been developed in consultation with a number of the UK’s leading entrepreneurs, such as James Averdieck, who sold GU, the chocolate desert business and who sits on the advisory board of bluebox.
The business will be led by group CEO, Paul Herman who has sold in excess of 50 businesses as a corporate adviser for a total value of GBP800 million and managing director of bluebox Pre-Sale Planning, Malcolm Murray, who as a board director at BCMS has addressed in excess of 40,0000 business owners who are contemplating a sale. James Caan, the leading entrepreneur and ex Dragon on Dragon’s Den, will act as group chairman.
In addition to the significant number of failed or aborted sales, the key drivers behind the launch of bluebox are fiscal change, such as the introduction of entrepreneurs relief which offers significant advantages to business owners; the pressure on private equity investors to reduce the size of their portfolios; and the ongoing rationalisation of listed companies who are under pressure to prioritise their core competencies. bluebox’s services are relevant to entrepreneurs and business owners, private equity investors and PLCs.
bluebox has developed a highly structured Pre-Sale planning programme for business owners who are contemplating a sale in the next three years, comprising six key stages: workshop, report, roadmap, clinics, interim review and membership to the bluebox club. Business owners who sign up to the programme will receive a tailored road map outlining their optimal journey to sale and will have access to a range of 18 “Fit4Sale” clinics that bluebox has arranged to be delivered by some of the UK’s leading professional advisory firms.
All programme members will have access to the bluebox Vault that will serve as an online data room where material can be stored for ease of accessibility and in readiness for diligence.
James Caan, a major shareholder in the new venture, commented: “When I came to sell my first business, it became apparent how challenging it can be for an entrepreneur to adopt the mindset of a potential buyer and adapt the business so it is in the best possible position for successful sale. This took me three years to do.
“It is a problem that I have come across repeatedly in my conversations with other entrepreneurs. bluebox has been created to help business owners prepare properly for what is a life-changing event. Our programme takes a lot of stress out of the experience and most importantly ensures they get full value for the sale when they do come to exit. There is a huge gap in the market for this sort of service and we believe that bluebox is unique in offering it.”
Paul Herman, continued: “Our goal is to set the gold standard in pre-sale planning. We can help businesses to pre-empt and avoid the pitfalls of a sale exercise. Everything should be neatly in place before they start the sales process. Not only will this reduce the considerable professional and personal pressure that is placed on a business owner at one of the most critical times in their lives but it can also reduce the significant costs associated with an abortive exercise. There is plenty of excellent advice available at the point of sale but not, before now, in the run up to it.”
James Averdieck, who sold GU, the chocolate desert business, in January 2010 and sits on the advisory board of bluebox, says: “As with most entrepreneurs, I had devoted my time and energy towards growing the business and managing day to day matters, but I hadn’t taken a breath to consider the matters that would be relevant during a sale process and the alarmingly extensive due diligence exercise that was about to come my way. Without question I would have benefitted from the bluebox programme.”
Bluebox will comprise four separate companies that share a common theme, which is to provide expert advice and quality services to businesses on the journey to exit. It has initially launched it Pre-Sale Planning programme, and will unveil its further three business units, Pre Exit Funding, Executive Search and Corporate Finance over the course of the next six months.
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