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A CFO’s view on the ins and outs of acquisition – my fireside chat with Bernard Hickey at the Auckland CFO Symposium 2016

When Bre from our Marketing team asked me if I was interested in speaking at this year’s Auckland CFO Symposium, held on 7 – 8 September, my initial reaction was one of sheer terror. But when it was explained to me the format that my talk would take – a “fireside chat” with esteemed financial editor and commentator and MC for the event, Bernard Hickey – my fear subsided considerably.

Intergen is one of the sponsors of the CFO Symposium, held in both Wellington and Auckland. The events are designed to streamline CFO knowledge-sharing and networking and deal with some of “the most pressing local, national and global issues facing New Zealand CFOs today.

Murray Newman, Intergen CFO, speaking at CFO Summit Auckland 2016

The Wellington Symposium was held back in June and met with great success, so much so we decided to get involved with the Auckland event as well. In Wellington James Page, our GM of Dynamics Solutions, spoke about the future of work, specifically the “scarcity of youth”, and what this means for us as organisations as we plan for what’s ahead. (A great summary of the Wellington event, with its key themes of change and disruption, can be found on the Intergen blog here.)

And then Auckland it was my turn to talk. As the audience was CFOs I thought they might be interested in the process that Intergen went through as it was acquired by Empired, back in October 2014. This was from a CFO’s perspective so would probably not appeal to too many non-accountants!

I had sent an outline of how I thought the conversation would run so the questions were not out of the blue but also not rehearsed. By coincidence two days prior to this I was at a PWC seminar where our CEO, Simon Bright, spoke to fellow Gold Award finalists (Simon was asked to speak as Intergen won both Cyber Gold and the Supreme Award) about the Intergen journey and it included a fair bit of the lead up to and execution of being acquired. This refresher was very timely and allowed me to use some of Simon’s snippets in my conversation. Why create when you can re-use?

Bernard was a great host and put me at ease. The time in the hot seat flew and before I knew it my 30 minutes in the limelight was over.

For those of you interested we covered; plans to IPO, a failed acquisition target, meeting Empired, choosing investment bankers, deciding to sell instead, financial modelling and information memorandum to targets, choosing Empired as our desired partner, due diligence and post-acquisition success.

Written like that it does not seem much but a few of us were tied up for six months and for me personally it was a great experience and one that I learnt so much from. The level of detail needed in the forecast modelling (three businesses in three different countries with three different currencies for three years!) was something that I had not appreciated until I embarked on the task.

Preparing the data room for the due diligence was a massive job, requiring every possible document - minute, board resolution, bank statement, tax return, employment contract, client contract that you could possibly imagine.

But for me the biggest learning was being exposed to the end to end process – seeing how the investment bankers operated, being involved in meetings with potential buyers, understanding the differences between the offers that we received, thrashing out the sale and purchase agreement and the due diligence process.

It felt good to share the story with a wider audience and I hope the hundred and fifty or so gathered fellow CFOs took something away from it.

Posted by: Murray Newman, Chief Financial Officer | 14 September 2016

Tags: Finances, CFO Symposium, Conferences

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