As we move into 2020, there are signs that the M&A market may be slowing down.  Global trade issues, rising prices for target companies, and political uncertainty in the US all may contribute to reduced deal activity in the coming year.  In this type of market, acquirers will take a harder look at potential acquisitions in order to minimize risk. Both strategic and financial buyers will be focused on buying “quality” companies, where potential risks are minimized through good practices of the sellers.
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Companies that are considering an M&A transaction should review their insurance policies to determine whether the carrier needs to be notified of the potential transaction.  In some cases, failure to do so can cost the insured the coverage that it was expecting.  In a case out of California (Scottsdale Insurance Co. v. CSC Agility Platform, Inc., C.D. Cal, Feb 4, 2019), the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California held that an insured’s failure to notify its insurer of a pending transaction allowed the insurer to deny coverage when an otherwise covered claim arose.
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As the M&A market stays active, more and more family-owned businesses are selling to third parties. Many of these transactions involve sophisticated buyers, who spend a lot of time, money and effort on due diligence of a seller.  While there are many elements that go into a successful sale of a business, sellers can take a few steps prior to starting on the sale process to help ensure smoother negotiations (and hopefully a smooth transaction).
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