Company sale: are we there yet?
December 30, 2011 1:48 PM   Subscribe

What is the timeline of the sale of a business?

I'm pretty sure that my company is going through the process of being sold. Despite being in upper management, I am being told nothing about the process. However, from about March 2011 onward I have noticed many offsite business meetings, audit-type questions/documentation that suggest the due diligence process, and (in the past two months) huge offsite presentations.

What sort of timeline does the sale of a relatively small (20 or so people, maybe a couple million dollars/year) company have? Once announced to staff, how long does it take for changes (layoffs? culture changes?) to start going into effect?

I know that every company sale is different, and I have read the great advice on this question, but I'm curious if there's anything resembling "typical" for the timeline of a sale, or your specific experiences in regard to the process and timing.
posted by dayintoday to Work & Money (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Once announced to staff, how long does it take for changes (layoffs? culture changes?) to start going into effect?

I can only really speak to this part and basically it depends. The purchasing company knows most of the people they will be laying off before the purchase actually happens (if they are laying anyone off). Those people may be laid off immediately, given some notice, or they may be asked to stick around through a transition period. It depends on the company (both the purchaser and the purchasee). But really WHO to lay off isn't a difficult question in these situations, get rid of duplicates - this is usually finance, HR, admin, IT - keep knowledge holders - developers in a software co. for example.

Culture can go either way too, depends a lot on why the purchaser is buying the company. Some companies are bought and left alone. Some companies are gutted, some companies are bought because someone has new ideas and cash. You may start seeing changes right away (new policies, changed benefits, new management, etc.) or, if you are to be left alone, nothing much might change at all.

There are so many variables that it is impossible to really say how your company is going to change post-possible buyout. I've been a part of a couple buyouts and even with the same company always doing the buying things were done very differently.
posted by magnetsphere at 2:13 PM on December 30, 2011

By six months in you should have a good idea whether there have been any changes and whether you still want to work there.
posted by rhizome at 2:20 PM on December 30, 2011

There really isn't a "typical" time for these things (although obviously there are statistical means and medians); trying to make a decision based on that information would be like trying to buy a pair of shoes for someone based on the "typical" shoe size of their age, race and gender.

The ship is in stormy conditions. All may be fine in the end, however it would be wise to check the condition of your life preservers - your resume, referee endorsements, contacts at similar companies, your unemployment and medical insurance etc. Prepare for the possibility of job loss, and if it doesn't happen, great. (Also you may just randomly find a better job anyway.)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:13 PM on December 30, 2011

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