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Should I hire an intermediary to conduct an acquisition search?

Modified on: May 21st, 2018

Yes, if you can afford it.  An intermediary can search web sites for businesses matching your criteria. They can also search for “pre-market” businesses by putting together a list of possible sellers and contacting them on your behalf. And they can reach out to other intermediaries about “unlisted” businesses.  

The intermediary also does a lot of the initial screening and due diligence, which saves a lot of time. And they provide confidentiality. Your name won’t be disclosed to sellers until you choose to disclose it.

The main negative is cost: you’ll have to pay a non-refundable retainer - usually a one-time fee of $50,000 or more or a monthly fee of $5,000 or more. And you'll have to pay a commission - $150,000 to $300,000 on a $5 million transaction - when the deal closes. Fortunately, the retainer is deductible from the commission.

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