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Deal and advisory firms 4 min read

A partnership that offers business owners a best-in-class solution when it's time to sell

CWB and Sequeira Partners helps entrepreneurs get optimal value while minimizing headaches.

There’s no two ways about it: for business owners, selling a company “can be the most stressful business transaction of their lives,” says Erica McGuinness of Sequeira Partners, a boutique deal and valuation advisory firm.

But for the thousands of business owners who have found a trusted financial ally in CWB, it doesn’t have to be that way. When a client has made the decision to sell all or part of their stake in a business, CWB’s holistic approach helps ensure that they get the guidance and advice they need—from all service areas of the bank—to help plan and execute a sale that helps them realize their goals. And for many business owners, Sequeira Partners is part of the mergers and acquisitions solution.

Since its founding in 2010, the Western Canadian-based firm has supported nearly 200 national and cross-border sale transactions in industries ranging from manufacturing and energy to insurance and IT. And since 2021, CWB has had an alliance with Sequeira to complement the bank’s support of business owners who are planning to sell. “Sequeira’s best-in-class services round out our offerings when clients want to sell,” says Jeremy Bloy, Assistant Vice-President, Business Development at CWB. “The whole process is seamless and supportive, which is exactly what we want for business owners.”

Adds McGuinness, a Partner at Sequeira who regularly works with CWB clients: “The bank has a well-earned reputation for being very entrepreneurial and client-focused, and those are two key elements of our approach, too.”

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A seamless process

For owners, the CWB-Sequeira relationship means they can benefit from best-in-class financial support and deal advisory as part of the same process. When CWB refers a client, the first question owners usually have is how much the business is worth. Sequeira can help with that—it has the largest dedicated valuations practice of an independent firm in Western Canada, says McGuinness—but the firm’s advisors also want to develop a deep understanding of the owner’s goals. That might be selling the entire stake in the company and exiting the business, or it might be “taking some chips off the table,” for instance, by selling part of the company to a private equity firm that can partner with existing ownership and guide the business into its next phase of growth. “There could be many different reasons why a business owner or shareholder group wants to transact, and so the best fit in terms of who is going to buy the business can be very different,” McGuinness explains. “We spend a lot of time upfront trying to understand that.”

The next step is assembling a list of potential purchasers and developing materials to market the company. Those materials typically include detailed models that tell “the financial story of the company and paint a picture of its future based on budgets and forecasts," McGuinness says. Sequeira Partners also develops a Confidential Information Memorandum, a report for potential buyers that summarizes the business’s operations, its mission, and its key strategic differentiators. Then, the firm will take the company to market, usually in a highly targeted way by distributing the marketing materials to a select group of potential purchasers. Sequeira’s team of advisors also ensures that appropriate confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements are in place – “Nobody wants their information out there more than it needs to be,” McGuinness adds.

From there, once qualified buyers are identified, Sequeira helps guide the seller through the often-complex process of preliminary due diligence, initial meetings with purchasers and soliciting proposals from qualified buyers; this includes working with CWB experts as well as the client’s tax, legal and other advisors. Once proposals are received, Sequeira will work to negotiate the best terms and price before a proposal is accepted and a term sheet is executed. But the support does not end there; business sale transactions often involve several steps that take place after deal terms are agreed to. These steps include confirmatory due diligence, negotiating purchase and sale agreements, and standing with clients through post-closing matters such as earn-outs and working capital true-ups. “We like to say that we’re with our clients right to the end and then some,” she says, adding that one recent client relationship lasted more than six years.

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Time management

That example speaks to a reality owners would do well to bear in mind: selling at optimum value, with the least amount of stress, can take time. McGuinness says that Sequeira prefers to get involved with owners as early as possible, even if they are not sure on the ultimate timing of a sale. McGuinness explains engaging Sequeira early gives the advisors “an opportunity to say, ‘OK, here’s what your business is worth today, and here are some things you could do to make it more attractive when the time comes to sell.” Some of those things—McGuinness calls them “table stakes” in any potential sale—include externally prepared financial statements, tax planning, and updating contracts with suppliers, customers and other stakeholders. But there are also more complicated items owners should address, too, like ensuring there’s an appropriate management team in place if the owner is looking to exit fully.

Of course, in the real world, owners do not always have the luxury of a lengthy time horizon. Life events such as death, illness or divorce can disrupt long-term plans; or an unsolicited offer from a potential buyer can force an owner to make quick decisions about selling their business. “The possibility of selling can be something that business owners are reacting to in real time,” McGuinness says, “and we’re quite comfortable stepping in.” So, no matter what stage of their exit journey a business owner is in, CWB and Sequeira are ready to help—every step of the way.