Think Tank M&A


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How our Cash Culture can help you ?

How to Build a Cash Culture for M&A Optimal Execution


Cash is king, once everyone in the new company understands that the newly formed company will be focused on cash, the other workstreams will collaborate to identify synergies and better manage interdependencies. It is key to instill a “cash culture”early in the process.


Change management is amplified when you’ve done the work to build the “cash culture”. Leaders who coach their team members with a growth-oriented system are able to ignite, align and involve a team that is fully committed to executing a strategic plan.

As you’re preparing for a new year of post acquisition plan execution, trade sales or carvouts, you may be wondering what comes next? You have your plan. It’s structured so all of your initiatives and workstreams are aligned to your organization’s goals, mission and vision. Now, how can you ensure your team is optimized to execute your plan for the greatest results?

Coaching systems that prime professionals for effective execution combine enhanced employee engagement with a relentless focus on goals to drive high performance.

With a deliberate choice to particularly focus on maximising treasury actions and sales massive actions from Day 1, we have developped a unique approach, that works.

We will outline the steps to take when implementing a coaching system to guide your employees through post acquisition or post carve-out plan execution, and boost employee engagement for better results.


You will learn:

  • The characteristics of the cash culture, constraints and opportunities
  • How to overcome major obstacles managers face in driving brilliant post acquisition execution
  • Steps to build your cash culture for better results, increase controls, and set up the right KPIs

9 incredible tips to sell your startup early

You have enjoyed the ride, maybe you have had enough or maybe you feel it is the right moment to exit at the highest possible price point.

So now is the time for you to sell your startup and move on.

What do you need to know before getting started ?

Here are some hands-on tips and tricks to prepare and execute the sale of your startup and start a new one, an even cooler startup !

Tip #1: Why making an investment in a Startup is only the beginning of the journey ?

  • What types of investments, exits and returns have you made so far ?
  • How to decorelate between exit of the investors, exit of your startups and the priorities of the different entrepreneurs ?

Tip #2: What is the right exit path for my startup ?

  • How to review and chose the various types of exit paths ?
  • What are the triggers, prerequisites and timings for each exit path ?


Tip #3: Why, how and when should you exit ? What might happen when you choose to exit ?

  • What difference does it make whether I exit to an Angel Investor, a Venture Capitalist, to a Private Equity or on a Secondary Market ? Why should I care ?
  • IPO, is it possible for your startup ? Is it really a jackpot for you ?
  • Share repurchase by entrepreneurs, is it really a win-win alternative everyone is talking about
  • 9 distinct areas in a Due Diligence process. Sellers do their Due Diligence. Buyers also do Due Diligence! Then we talk ! It is important to understand this process and its consequences.
  • What are the risks in these transactions ?
  • What are the personal liabilities for investors & entrepreneurs ? How to limit them ?

Tip# 4 – What are the most successful exit path in Switzerland ? Why is the Trade Sale so popular ?

Is it the right deal type for you ?

  • Buy-Sell Agreement
  • Share Purchase Agreement, what is its timing, intention and what are main clauses

Fiscal optimisation for all parties involved: this plays a key role in many transactions.

Tip #5 – Would hiring a professional negotiator make a big difference ?

There are many advanced negotiations tactics, to chose from, which ones have you used ? which ones have worked ? Which ones have you seen being used ?


Tip #6 – Who will be around the negotiating table ?


Who will not be there but will be influential in other ways ? Always useful to keep in mind your list of stakeholders and to manage your counterparties proactively: shareholders, investment banker, lawyer office and buyer. They are usually somehow in the game.

Tip #7 – Valuation of your startup – No one else knows your startup better than you. So roll your own and be well prepared.

rollyourownHave your own way to do the startup valuation. Get some advise of course.

bridesWe all know that all brides look sexy. The seller is always looking good. We will find it difficult to know all the hidden problems and to be 100% sure about the intention of buyers and sellers. It is part of the pocker game and the negotiation preparation.

  • I know how much money I can get but what will they gain?
  • How do you chose your lawyers ? They are probably your most expensive friends. What can you prepare without them ? Where can you save a couple of hours of their time ? Where do they truly add value ?
  • Does the company need a CFO, a CEO, or some kind of CxO ad interim for managing the transition and the acquisition integration ?

Getting paid in cash vs shares. What can you exercise?


Tip #8: Are you really really ready ?

  • How to know if I am ready to sell and exit?

Here is a Free Exit readiness assessment tool.

Tip #9 : Secret booster

  • How to accelerate if you have to ? The buyer is ready and wants to move fast. You are half ready to sell but unsure you are not missing a unique exit opportunity. How do you deal with that.


Better safe than sorry, it is super important to have the right team around you to manage your exit and to be well prepared before you reach the negotiation tables. Startups need to build a growth plan and exit path early in their life cycle to unlock the value created and to maximize the chances of their founders and investors making financial returns.

We would like to hear from you, how did it go for you ?

If any of this is useful, please comment, we would like to hear from you.

If you are asking yourself some of these questions, let us know.


Will Paypal share price explode ?

Following persistent rumours about Paypal Holdings Inc, being a potential acquisition target, its share price is expected to jump from 37,07 $ to 50 $ in the next 30-60 days.

Paypal has split from eBay and can now be acquired.

MasterCard could make a move in the coming weeks and is said to be in advanced negotiation stage to offer 50 dollars per share. (Paypal valuation would therefore be 61 billion $). With 1.3 billion cards in circulation, MasterCard remains confronted with very strong competitor (VISA), who have made lots of strong investment recently.


Such an acquisition would enable MasterCard to make a big jump in the payment services, e-commerce services (Alibaba, Amazon and the likes) and to operate some of the largest sharing economy unicorns (AirBnB, Uber…). Merchant services, one of Paypal’s strenghts, would also be a way for MasterCard to acquire a dominant position in a strategic market, where Paypal dominates the world. As this is probably the quickest and easiest way for MasterCard to enter in this highly lucrative market, MasterCard is prepared to pay a substantial premium.

Communicate well, communicate early, communicate a lot !

Why is good communication essential to successful acquisitions integrations ?

The communication role needs to begin during the preliminary stages to set the scene. Too often the communication doesn’t start until too late. Mergers and acquisitions go through three broad phases. « Which phase bears the greatest risk of failure? »:

  1. Strategy development, target shortlisting, due diligence – 30%

  2. Negotiation and closing the deal – 17%

  3. Post-merger integration – 53%

This response shows that the most important time for a merger or takeover is when the deal has been formalized and the more difficult stage of ‘bedding down’ the process has started, requiring intensive communication. However, there is a case that communication should start early to pave the way for internal acceptance and post-merger integration.

Overwhelming experience indicates directly or indirectly that people issues are the main reason for takeover failures. And communication is central to the people issues.

Management of the human side of the merger is the real key to maximizing the value of the deal.

Cultural incompatibility is consistently the biggest barrier to integration.

Out of three key merger factors – people, processes and systems – only people issues made a difference to the success of mergers.

Effective employee communication is the first or second most important issue emerging in all studies of mergers. Internal communication and culture changes are identified as the hardest to achieve, but the most important in merger success.

They are generally under-resourced in post-merger integration, and are often absent before the deal and the due diligence phases. Interestingly, customer issues are also extremely poorly resourced.

How could management do this? And how could highly paid management consultants let this happen? The two most important constituencies to look after – customers and employees – have largely been ignored. It defies logic!

Most of the merger communication budgets around the world have been spent on external communication rather than employee communication!

Regardless of the brilliance of the vision and the fit in a merger, the subsequent success of the deal depends mostly on the employees. They are the ones whose day-to-day actions can make a merger work or can sink it after the deal is done.

A sufficient investment in internal communication is the link in keeping the employee attitudes positive towards the changes brought about by the merger. Gamifying the employee experience, specifically at this moment is key to success.

Communicate early

Even before a formal merger or acquisition is underway, employees often become aware from indirect information or by chance that something is in the air. It is human nature to want to know what is happening. If they feel management is keeping information from them, quite understandably they start to feel anxious.

When people are uncertain, they start to speculate about the clues in front of them. Invariably this interpretation of clues becomes paranoia as they chat to workmates and quickly develop a view that a management conspiring the worst. The grapevine goes overtime with rumors. Productivity starts to drop as staff waste time in discussing rumors and losing some of their motivation. With well-developed rumors, some staff actually start to leave the company before, as they believe, the bad news hits.

When a merger is announced, staff in the acquiring company may not feel concerned initially. They belong to the new parent and don’t anticipate much change. This sense of security is not always justified because the process of establishing the new joint organization can reveal areas of the acquiring company that could be improved.

If two roughly equal parties merge, change will hit both sides. Employees will become anxious about their jobs. They will suddenly have to confront:

  • loss of status and influence;
  • uncertainty about the employer’s plans;
  • a fight for individual survival as fear of job cuts takes hold;
  • increased workloads because some people leave voluntarily or involuntarily;
  • a spillover effect into individuals’ lives.

Effective strategic communication plays a key role in addressing these issues, but is difficult and complex:

  • Effective communication demands intensive time from senior management at a time when they may be totally devoted to the technical and financial aspects of the deal, and may not have sufficiently considered the impact on others.
  • Effective communication requires training because many managers have never received guidance on good interpersonal communication practices.
  • Communication doesn’t come easily to many managers who throughout most their careers have dealt almost entirely with hard facts and figures, not the ‘soft’ people issues – these managers may not be good enough as leaders.
  • Many managers are uncomfortable about giving tough messages to their staff, and being honest with them about bad news of job cuts or site closures.
  • Mergers involve many technical and complex issues required by law, the stock exchange, and regulatory bodies. Communication is not legally required and so it is an easy area to drop down the priority list.
  • Communication is not easily quantified and measured, which makes it difficult to grapple with when merger budgets are being considered.
  • The communication function isn’t always represented at a sufficiently high level within the organization, and even then the head of the function may not be strategically minded.

Our references

Date Role $ Deal Structure Industry Company Name Target
2013 – 2016 Scouting, Due Diligence, Fund Raising, Negotiation 1-5 Mio Acquisition / JV IOT, Golf, Biotech, Skincare, renewable energy Under NDA Under NDA
Aug 2011 Acquisition Integration for Sales and Customer Service The terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Acquisition US Crop forecaster Thomson Reuters

(70000 employees)

Lanworth (22 employees)
Aug 2011 Acquisition Integration for Sales and Customer Service The terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Acquisition Metals analytics Thomson Reuters

(70000 employees)

GFMS (Gold Fields Mineral Services)
Oct 2010 Acquisition Integration for Sales and Customer Service The terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Acquisition Direct Market Access Trading (DMA), buy-side quants and hedge funds doing algo trading. Thomson Reuters

(70000 employees)

May 2010 Acquisition Integration for Sales and Customer Service The terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Acquisition Essential trading analytics, news and content for the energy and environmental markets. Thomson Reuters

(70000 employees)

Point Carbon
Nov 2009 Acquisition Integration for Sales and Customer Service The terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Acquisition Swiss environmental, social responsibility and governance (ESG) data provider Thomson Reuters

(70000 employees)

Sep 2009 Acquisition Integration for Sales and Customer Service 42 Millions Euros Acquisition News release Thomson Reuters

(70000 employees)

Hugin Group
Aug 2009 Acquisition Integration for Sales and Customer Service The terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Acquisition Enterprise tick data solutions, velocity analytics Thomson Reuters

(70000 employees)

Vhayu (founded by Intel)
Jul 2009 Acquisition Integration for Sales and Customer Service The terms of the deal of privately held Streamlogics remain undisclosed. Acquisition Results-driven webcasting solutions Thomson Reuters

(70000 employees)

2008 – 2010 Acquisition Integration for Sales and Customer Service The terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Partnership / JV / Acquisition Order routing FX derivatives Thomson Reuters

(70000 employees)

Autex (Tradeweb)
May 2007 – March 2012 New Operating Model Implementation 17.2 bil Acquisition Information, news, data, graphics, hardware, software. Thomson

(35000 employees)

Reuters (35000 employees)
1995-1997 Post Acquisition Rebranding The terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Acquisition Oil distribution, service stations network Elf Minol
1993-1995 Post Acquisition Strategic Planning The terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Acquisition Biometrics authentication and identification systems (AFIS) Sagem Morpho Systems

Objets connectés, cryptomonnaies et virtualité augmentée, futures cibles des acteurs #mobiles.

Ruée vers l’or ou traverseé de desert pour les acteurs du marché mobiles ?

Le 29 avril, le Think Tank M&A organisait son 7ème diner évènement, sur le secteur « Mobile ». Nous avons pu passer en revue les blockbusters du moment, les jeux les plus addictifs, les apps collectors, l’émergence de la géolocalisation, la virtualité augmentée et les crypomonnaies. Nouveau langage, univers collaboratif et créatif, nouvelle dynamique, nouvelles technologies dans un secteur qui en fait rêver plus d’un.

Le mythe des start-upers mobile et des créateurs de jeux qui font fortune avec un jeu simple ou une app toute bête est-il une réalité ? Qui investit dans ce secteur ? Qui capture la valeur ? Quels sont les ingrédients pour réussir dans ce marché de plus en plus concurrentiel ? Les sceptiques ont-ils des raisons de se poser des questions sur les valorisations pratiquées ?


Une petite équipe de développeurs de génie peut-elle encore réussir un grand coup ?


Peut-être pas impossible, mais cela devient de plus en plus compliqué. Les temps des mythiques Flappy Bird (ou le créateur gagnait 50000 USD par jour avant d’arrêter) semblent révolu. Compte tenu des investissements nécessaires en développement mais aussi en marketing, le marché des jeux est rapidement devenu mature avec des acteurs dominant, qui produisent des Blockbusters (Call of Duties, Battlefield, Minecraft, Clash of Clans, Grand Theft Auto 4), et qui ont la capacité à financer un jeu avec le succès du précédent.

On pense notamment à Electronic Arts, Blizzard Activision et Ubisoft. Le marché se structure donc de plus en plus dans une logique d’éditeurs, avec une forte capacité financière. D’après Gartner, « jusqu’en 2018, moins de 0,01% des applications mobiles grand public seront considérés comme un succès financier par leurs développeurs. La raison principale est un marché saturé d’applications. Dans un tel contexte, outre l’importance de la qualité du jeux, il convient d’avoir un expert des modèles économiques dans son équipe.

Quel modèle économique pour les entreprises de jeux ou d’apps sur mobile ?


Plusieurs modèles coexistent, notamment le gratuit, le free to play, le « In app » purchase, le modèle basé sur les revenus publicitaires. Le modèle qui prédomine actuellement est le free to play, un modèle de type freemium ou l’éditeur de jeux doit attirer un maximum d’utilisateurs gratuits pour ensuite en convertir un certain nombre (les plus accros d’entre eux) vers des options payantes pour le joueur.

Les joueurs qui ne payent pas contribuent néanmoins au succès en terme de notoriété, de réputation et d’acquisition de nouveaux joueurs. Parmi les jeux qui sont parvenus à trouver un excellent équilibre entre gratuit et payant, « Clash of Clans » est un modèle du genre, une perle de maitrise de l’accompagnement du joueur.


Qu’est ce qui dope le marché des fusions acquisitions dans ce secteur ?


Dès qu’un jeu est un succès, il se fait copier très vite, des centaines de fois, et les grands éditeurs veulent se positionner sur un maximum de créneaux de jeux et d’apps. (jeux de cartes, bandes dessinées, jeux de guerre…)


Quels critères principaux poussent les acteurs à faire de la croissance externe ?

1-      la volonté d’acquérir des actifs et de capter de la propriété intellectuelle ; un jeu, une licence, des illustrations rares ou particulièrement réussies, ou un produit déclinable en une série de produits.

2-      La volonté d’étendre leur base client et de conquérir de nouveaux marchéls géographiques, pour diversifier leurs risques marchés. De nombreux projets se développent au niveau local, puis au niveau pays, avant de passer à l’échelle internationale. Entre temps, des copies locales ont eu le temps de « prendre le marché ».

3-      Les fonds d’investissements et quelques investisseurs privés jouent un rôle majeur dans ce secteur et y voient une opportunité de rendements alléchants et essaie de faire quelques « coups ».

4-      La volonté de faire disparaître un concurrent. L’industrie devient mature et se consolide.

5-      La pression des marchés financiers, pour ceux qui sont désormais côtés (Twitter, Facebook, Zynga et maintenant Candy Crush).

6-      L’arrivée des consoles de Pay TV de convergence numérique, le social gaming (les consoles…) et les serious games (qui devaient être le grand boom d’il y a 5 ans…) contribuent aussi au dynamisme du secteur.

7-      Enfin, les acteurs de l’industrie des objets connectés commencent à former un secteur adjacent pour les acteurs de la mobilité, et à ce titre des cibles d’acquisition potentielles.

Coté éditeur, il existe de véritables clusters géographiques qui ont pris une longueur d’avance. On pense bien sûr au Japon et à la Finlande (où a été développé le célèbre Angry Birds).


Quelle technologie et quelle innovation pour demain ?


Dans l’audio, la réalité et la virtualié augmentée, les cryptomonnaies (Bitcoins, MasterCoins…) et les analytiques, on voit apparaitre des projets prometteurs.



Comment se positionnent les acteurs américains (Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Google et Apple) ? Quelles sont les grandes transactions de 2014 ?


Les gros acteurs sont tous de plus en plus actifs sur le marché des M&A. Les start up font encore pas mal rêver les développeurs, et les mid-cap doivent passer à l’échelle rapidement.


Parmi les incontournables, Facebook continue de dominer, et se positionne clairement sur le marché des jeux vidéo, Après le rachat de What’s app pour 19 milliards de $, Facebook a notamment acheté Oculus Rift pour 2 milliards de $

Pinterest émerge rapidement et vient de racheter VisualGraph en Janvier, une technologie de recherche visuelle et de reconnaissance d’image.

Twitter, malgré de récents résultats décevants, et des doutes persistents sur son business modèle, continue de racheter des sociétés, et se positionne notamment sur la géolocalisation et l’analyse fine des données des réseaux sociaux avec le rachat de Gnip.

Zynga est en perte de vitesse, and Candy Crush a fait un flop avec son IPO, Acitivision Blizzard a rachèté les actions de Vivendi.

Spotify a racheté The Echo Nest, un moteur de recherche et de découverte de la musique.

Il existe des rumeurs persistentes de rachat sur le marché des paiements mobiles. Square (la plateforme de paiement en ligne) serait-elle à vendre ? Google, Apple et eBay seraient sur les rangs car leurs ventes sont en baisse. La rumeur reprend de plus belle.

Amazon vient d’acquérir Comixology (leader des bandes dessinées). ­

Microsoft Mobile, nouvellement équipé des actifs de Nokia peut-il revenir dans la course des apps et des jeux ?


Nokia a cédé sa division portables et tablettes à Microsoft pour 5,44 milliards d’euros.

Il semble qu’IOS et Android ont pris tellement d’avance que ce sera très difficile de se faire une place, notamment auprès des communautés de développeurs.


Les sociétés côtées (Facebook, Twitter et Zynga principalement) pourraient bien continuer leur marché et accélérer leurs acquisitions. Facebook a un trésor de guerre, Twitter doit rapidement convaincre sur sa capacité à monétiser.


Que penser de la stratégie de croissance externe des groupes chinois et notamment de l’offensive d’Alibaba ?


Après Hundsun et ChinaVision, c’est maintenant au tour du YouTube chinois Youku Tudou


Quelle grande tendance dans le marketing mobile ?


Le marketing mobile a encore de belles heures devant lui. Publicité sur mobile bien sûr, mais également de nouveaux concepts :


–          Les concepts de gamification sont sortis des jeux, et nous les retrouvons désormais dans les réseaux sociaux et dans l’éducation en ligne. Ils contribuent grandement au succès des cours en ligne et des MOOCs.


–          Les concepts de fidélisations « web loyalty » se développent et renforcent les principes classiques de customer service. Les cartes de fidélité de nos commerçants pourraient bientôt être personnalisables et utiliser la technologie NFC. Le succès d’Affinion est un bon exemple de cette nouvelle tendance.


–          Les LAN Parties : des évènements qui permettent aux gamers de se retrouver dans un endroit pour se rencontrer et jouer ensemble.




Force est de constater que quelque chose se passe dans ce secteur. Les sociétés de développement et de services mobiles restent donc attrayantes pour les investisseurs, les rendements de rêve (une société japonaise a fait *100000 en 4 ans entre 2010 et 2014) se font certes rares, mais le secteur reste porteur.


Des doutes sur les niveaux de valorisation de ces sociétés persistent, alimentés par l’opacité de certains modèles économiques et sur l’utilisation de techniques et des usages un peu « borderline » ou « underground » auxquels les investisseurs traditionnels ne sont pas encore vraiment habitués.


Pour le Think Tank M&A

Yves Zieba

Coordinateur du Think Tank


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