M&A Conference Offers Businesses Keys for Growth

Oklahoma businesses, riding a wave of profitability fueled by the oil and gas industry, are increasingly attractive to a growing number of buyers, said Rob Firestone, chairman of The M&A Source.
“Right now we have companies that are extremely attractive to buyers, and, secondly, we have more buyers looking for companies,” said Firestone, co-owner of Tulsa mergers and acquisitions intermediary firm Bluestem Resources Affiliated Group, LLC.
“It’s a beautiful blend.”
He said those firms can take advantage of that environment through acquisitions, divestitures or mergers, “but in order for that to happen we have to educate people about the process.”
To meet that need, The M&A Source, the largest international organization of merger and acquisition intermediaries of the middle market, is bringing a one-day educational conference for business owners and their key advisers to Tulsa.
The conference, “Keys to Successful Acquisitions for Corporate Growth,” will be held March 28 at the Doubletree Hotel at Warren Place, 6110 S. Yale Ave.
Presented by Firestone and his business partner John C. Johnson, co-owner of Bluestem Resources, 2642 E. 21st St., Ste. 285, the conference is designed to provide techniques, information and insight into the strategic use of acquisitions, mergers or divestitures for corporate success.
Topics cover the M&A environment, creation of acquisition strategies, carrying out acquisitions, managing due diligence, issues of value, financing and pre-closing and post-closing issues.
Offered in a forum of eight panels, presenters will be a blend of professionals in finance, investing, law, accounting, tax and intermediaries with specialties in middle market M&A transactions. These will include private equity groups, M&A practitioners, commercial lenders and trusted advisers.
The target market will predominately be Oklahoma, and the conference will be presented in a regional format to best reach middle market business owners with sales from $5 million to $150 million.
Tulsa’s conference is the third in a series of regional conferences hosted by The M&A Source. The first was in Chicago in 2005, followed by a 2006 Milwaukee conference.
Sponsors include SpiritBank; Eide Bailly LLP; The University of Tulsa Center for Executive & Professional Development; Tulsa Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce; Oklahoma State Chamber; Tulsa Business Journal; Key Principal Partners; Evolve Capital; Pennington Allen Capital Partners; Greenfield Commercial Credit; Svoboda, Collins LLC and Trinity Hunt Partners.

In the Spotlight
The conference will put area businesses “under a national spotlight,” Firestone said.
“It will offer national exposure to private investment groups or equity and capital groups, and people who are looking to fund growth for companies in Oklahoma, or perhaps merge them with other companies around the country.”
He said it will “give business owners an opportunity to meet some of those people and to hear from the ‘buy’ side – the private equity groups or investment bankers – exactly what they are looking for in companies, how they develop strategies, how they value companies, how they finance transactions and get them done.”
From the business owners’ perspective, “it will walk them through the transaction process from beginning to end,” Firestone said.
“We will talk about how businesses in Oklahoma can grow through acquisition of other companies,” he said.
Through this process, businesses can learn how to determine the strategy for acquiring or merging with other companies, he said.
“If these companies have an interest in growing by acquisition of other companies, or if they have an interest in learning about the selling process or are considering the divestiture of their companies – they are going to hear about it from some of the most professional people from across the country,” he said.
Firestone said the Tulsa conference is one of a series of conferences The M&A Source will be offering in cities across the nation this year, including Dallas, Phoenix, Pittsburg, Boston, Atlanta, Denver and Memphis. Each is focused on the particular market.
“We are talking about Oklahoma specifically,” he said. “We are not going to be talking about issues that are irrelevant to the business owners in this area.”
Although the conference may touch on some high-tech and retail business issues, he said it is “going to be more broad-based – we are going to be talking in terms of manufacturing, distribution and service businesses.”

Ripe for Business
Firestone said although Tulsa is a smaller financial market, he encouraged The M&A Source to host a conference here because area businesses are particularly primed for mergers and acquisitions.
Because the strong oil and gas economy “has trickled down, you have these smaller businesses all over the region that are beneficiaries of that industry,” he said. “It has pumped money, whether it is in fittings, valves, hoses or gaskets.”
He said even service industries like printing companies have benefited “because they need to print literature because of sales brochures and everything going out to service the oil and gas industry.”
“It has fueled the economy, no doubt.”
This growth has come on the heels of the sluggish economy following the 9/11 terrorist attack, during which “many businesses were not poised for growth. They were not poised for divestiture. They were just in a state of paralysis,” Firestone said.
“As the oil industry started taking off and fueling more money into the economy, then these companies got back into a growth posture and are ready for growth in many different respects, one through acquisitions of other companies or mergers with other companies,” he said.
In addition, he said businesses in oil and gas have a historical performance of profitability are now in a better position for a divestiture.
“If they had sold 3-4 years ago right after experiencing a sluggish market, that’s not real attractive to buyers out there,” he said.

Cost of the conference is $175 for registration before March 9, $195 after March 9 and $225 after March 23 with registration at the door only. Register online or download the PDF registration form from www.masource.org. For more information, call 888-686-4222 or email admin@masource.org. ?

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