Exit Strategies

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The method by which a venture capitalist or business owner intends to get out of an investment that he or she has made in the past. In other words, the exit strategy is a way of “cashing out” an investment. Examples include an initial public offering (IPO) or being bought out by a larger player in the industry. Also referred to as a “harvest strategy” or “liquidity event”.

It’s more difficult for a VC or entrepreneur to get money out of an investment because they are generally dealing with private companies. When a firm is private, the shares cannot be sold nearly as easily as when the firm is publicly traded on a stock exchange. So, even though a private startup firm could be worth millions of dollars, the VC/entrepreneur has little access to this wealth. You can think of the exit strategy as the first opportunity to trade an illiquid asset (shares in a private firm) for a very liquid asset (cash).

Mergers & Acquisitions

Mergers and acquisitions (abbreviated M&A) refers to the aspect of corporate strategy, corporate finance and management dealing with the buying, selling, dividing and combining of different companies and similar entities that can aid, finance, or help an enterprise grow rapidly in its sector or location of origin or a new field or new location without creating a subsidiary, other child entity or using a joint venture. The distinction between a “merger” and an “acquisition” has become increasingly blurred in various respects (particularly in terms of the ultimate economic outcome), although it has not completely disappeared in all situations.

Distinction between mergers and acquisitions

Although often used synonymously, the terms merger and acquisition mean slightly different things.This paragraph does not make a clear distinction between the legal concept of a merger (with the resulting corporate mechanics, statutory merger or statutory consolidation, which have nothing to do with the resulting power grab as between the management of the target and the acquirer) and the business point of view of a “merger”, which can be achieved independently of the corporate mechanics through various means such as “triangular merger”, statutory merger, acquisition, etc. When one company takes over another and clearly establishes itself as the new owner, the purchase is called an acquisition. From a legal point of view, the target company ceases to exist, the buyer “swallows” the business and the buyer’s stock continues to be traded.

In the pure sense of the term, a merger happens when two firms agree to go forward as a single new company rather than remain separately owned and operated. This kind of action is more precisely referred to as a “merger of equals”. The firms are often of about the same size. Both companies’ stocks are surrendered and new company stock is issued in its place.For example, in the 1999 merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham, both firms ceased to exist when they merged, and a new company,GlaxoSmithKline, was created. In practice, however, actual mergers of equals don’t happen very often. Usually, one company will buy another and, as part of the deal’s terms, simply allow the acquired firm to proclaim that the action is a merger of equals, even if it is technically an acquisition. Being bought out often carries negative connotations; therefore, by describing the deal euphemistically as a merger, deal makers and top managers try to make the takeover more palatable. An example of this would be the takeover of Chrysler by Daimler-Benz in 1999 which was widely referred to as a merger at the time.

A purchase deal will also be called a merger when both CEOs agree that joining together is in the best interest of both of their companies. But when the deal is unfriendly (that is, when the target company does not want to be purchased) it is always regarded as an acquisition.