Pointers for managers or employees going through a merger or acquisition

When considering a merger or acquisition, owners need to consider several potential pitfalls.

When considering a merger or acquisition, owners need to consider several key points.

My clients at Averett Warmus Durkee CPAs Lena Combs and Tom Durkee recently sent me their newsletter with pointers on how to deal with mergers or acquisitions. Whether you’re in senior or mid-level management, it might be of interest to take a look at what the business owner or ownership group is considering while examining a deal.

And for owners, they advise, “Determining the right time to sell your business can make a huge difference in the price.” They provide a video that discusses questions you should ask yourself before jumping in. The article offers guidance on conducting a qualitative cultural evaluation to help detect critical incompatibilities with a potential merger partner.

I watched a close friend go through a merger in which there was plenty of redundancy and several cultural barriers which were difficult to overcome. In hindsight, when faced with this or any kind of change in your professional career, perhaps it’s best to get all the information you can in advance. It may be the difference between being naively blind-sided or in finding a way to make your career or your business’ point of view survive.

What in the [Timeshare] World Are We Thinking?

[Excerpts of this post appear in the July 2015 edition of Resort Trades (ResortTrades.com). Below is the full article.]

Michael Szwajkowski photo

Szwajkowski, Executive Vice President, Capital One, voices optimism for 2015.

“With significant debt capital available in the bank and capital markets, we expect developers to move forward with financing their growth plans, and our Vacation Ownership Survey reflects that industry posture,” said Michael Szwajkowski, Executive Vice President, Capital One.

Financial holding company Capital One Financial Corporation (www.capitalone.com) conducted a survey of timeshare professionals on emerging trends and industry insights at the recent ARDA World 2015 conference in Orlando. Szwajkowki’s observation followed findings like these:

• 33 percent of those surveyed cited construction and development lending as most important for the industry, nearly triple the 12 percent response in last year’s survey.
• 30 of respondents expect the trend of renovation and modernization of existing properties to gain the most momentum in 2015, markedly down from last year’s 51 percent response.
• 50 percent of industry professionals expect points-based structures to generate the most interest in the next year, followed by travel club memberships (32 percent).

This was music to Capital One’s ears and it’s music to ours, too. These survey results lend credibility to our former supposition that there was an increase in optimism at ARDA World this year. Many timeshare industry professionals expect sharply increased demand for construction loans in the coming year. Last year, working capital loans were pretty much topping the list of ‘must-haves.’ This year they were cited as most important by only 27 percent of respondents, a decrease of more than 40 percent from the prior year. This would seem to indicate that resorts are more and more operating in the black, at least those resorts able to afford the ticket price to attend the convention. The bank reported 94 percent expected consumer interest to be stronger or on par with the past year, while 6 percent anticipate a decline. (Wouldn’t it be interesting to question the 6 percent?)

Thirty percent of respondents expect the trend of renovation and modernization of existing properties to gain the most momentum in 2015, markedly down from last year’s 51 percent response. This is of particular interest as our industry grapples with maturing resorts slipping further into decline. On the other hand, it could be that many of last year’s respondents achieved their funding goals and financing has become more readily available.

“The timeshare market appears to be getting stronger in the United States and abroad,” said Jim Casey, Senior Vice President, Capital One. “Capital One is well-positioned to work with developers to take advantage of consumer confidence in the industry.”

To which we would only add, “Hear, hear!”

New Directions for Resort Trades & for SharonINK

New Directions for Resort Trades & for SharonINK

It was early in December 1989 when I showed up for my first day of work at ARDA (then called ARRDA). My boss, Cynthia Huheey, and Tom Franks who was president at the time had tried to explain “timeshare” to me, but it was the charismatic Jack Richardson from Resort Trades who really taught me the most in those first few days. Who knew that one day I’d become the publisher/managing editor of that very publication? Pure irony.

But allow me to back up, just a bit. On the cusp of the ‘90s, it was like a garden in springtime. Entrepreneurial developers, marketers and, yes, exchange companies, were sprouting like jonquils. And, of course, there were several ‘problems’ that needed weeding. In fact, with little-to-no consumer protection in place at the time, there were many who felt like nuclear winter was upon us. Timeshare had met the Horseman of the Apocalypse and he was directing a fly-by-night phone room.

But enter the white horseman in the form of Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt and with them, the decade of consolidation. The new millennium witnessed the end of the gold chains and white bucks as large companies grew, became public and performed asset-backed securitizations. (Who the heck knew what a securitization was before then?) Today, I’m told that 85 percent of the inventory in the U.S. is controlled by seven or eight companies.

And so now we get to the irony part: It’s ironic that the industry’s attention that once focused exclusively on developers, marketers and salespeople has now expanded to encompass HOAs, resort managers and management companies. And the real irony to us at The Trades is that this publication, which was once viewed as just a vehicle for advertising, is now the industry’s most widely distributed media – both print and online – and reaches not only those in the boardroom, but in many cases, ours is the only voice heard in the most remote areas.

From there it gets personal for me. I can no longer be the wide-eyed novice, because now I am head of a team that must ethically and wisely select news items and topics that will provide real value. We don’t support an association and typically, we have more genuine, informative editorial than we do advertising. We are an independent. It’s a gift, but it’s a responsibility.

So now as your newly appointed publisher, I wish to pledge that I will do all I can to inform, to educate and to empower. Thank you, dear Reader, for your continued loyalty to us.

Sharon Scott, RRP