de Visscher & Co.
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In many cultures, especially Asian traditions, people are uncomfortable responding to any request in the negative; they consider it rude. So if you ask a colleague from China or Japan if she can get a task done by the end of the month, she is likely to say “yes,” even if she knows she will be unable to do so. Eugene Nesbeda, managing director of New York City-based CITIC Capital Partners, explains that it is better to avoid yes-no questions; ask, “When you do think you can deliver that to me?” “It takes extra effort to make sure communications are clear” when people from different cultures try to do business, according to Nesbeda.
Handshake agreements and letters of intent may be interpreted differently. In certain Latin cultures, for instance, letters of intent are a mere statement of understanding, which may be deviated from unilaterally if the circumstances change. A U.S. party, accustomed to the rigidity of the terms of an executed letter of intent, may be offended if the other party “changes its mind” in the middle of negotiations. Continually checking on the parties’ plans in the process of negotiations is a key to the transaction’s success.
Given such cultural differences, it’s clear that negotiations with non-U.S. parties must be handled delicately. The respect given to each party’s values—especially important in family companies—will be a factor in how the transaction’s long-term success is judged. Those values may include the following:
There are many variations within cultures throughout the world, so don’t just rely on broad generalizations about a particular country. Ask potential foreign partners if you may contact their customers and suppliers. Talk to these references about each of the factors mentioned above.
In a very hot M&A market, sellers tend to focus on getting the best price for their company. But it’s just as important to seek out a comfortable cultural fit. As the owner of a family company, you likely take pride in what you’ve built, and care about what happens after you sell— to your employees, customers, suppliers, community and overall legacy.
By François de Visscher
n continuing de Visscher & Co.’s recognition of outstanding collaboration partners, we are pleased to introduce Dick Albu, of Albu Consulting, a friend and colleague with whom we have had a long and mutually beneficial working relationship. Dick founded Albu Consulting (www.albuconsulting.com) in 1994 as a strategy consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, leadership and organizational excellence. His proven planning systems help management teams:
Dick has been a “trusted advisor” to many family owned companies at a time when they are most in need of straightforward and insightful advice. Through a collaborative approach, his clients have had success in securing management buy-in to the challenges ahead and absorbing the knowledge and skills needed to deliver the desired return on investment from their new strategic plans. Albu Consulting’s success in facilitating business planning projects comes from practical operating experience that can be applied across all industries. Dick has worked with privately held, family owned companies and private equity firms in a range of industries.
We at de Visscher & Co. work hard to locate trusted family business advisors like Dick Albu who can assist closely held business with their most important issues and there are none more important than having a well thought out and realistic strategic plan. Please do not hesitate to contact Dick directly at 203-321-2147 or RAlbu@albuconsulting.com regarding his strategic planning services or general business advice.
is an independent financial advisor to business owning families and closely held businesses worldwide. Through a unique combination of financial advisory, capital raising and investment banking services the team at de Visscher & Co. creates high value-added solutions to the liquidity needs of shareholders and the capital needs of their businesses. Family Capital Growth Partners (www.fcgplp.com), a private equity fund affiliated with de Visscher & Co., also provides equity and subordinated debt capital to growth-oriented closely held and family-owned businesses.
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