When you’re transmitting a large sum of money electronically, how can you be sure your money gets to the right place?
Ricky Robertson, Atlantic Capital Bank’s Operational Risk Manager, discussed ways that businesses you can protect themselves and their clients from wire transfer fraud at the Sept. 28 meeting of the Georgia Association of Business Brokers.
A closing should mean that the seller gets paid. Usually, the buyer wires in their down payment, the attorney develops and sends out a closing statement the day before the closing, and everyone agrees with his/her numbers. Unfortunately, a buyer will sometimes send over wiring instructions via email and those instructions get phished and the instructions end up in the wrong place! The buyer or the seller may lose their money; in some cases, millions of dollars.
Among the horror stories that emerged from the Sept. 28 discussion was that of a payment of more than a million dollars that a bank client asked be electronically transmitted to a vendor. The bank called to confirm that the client wanted to make the payment, but it turned out that the payment was not sent to a vendor but to a third party online thief. Fortunately, Robertson said, the bank was able to recover the money because of a mistake made by the thief.
Lesson learned: if something doesn’t sound right, don’t hesitate to call and double- and triple-check the facts. Too often humans want to be accommodating and agreeable, and thieves exploit that tendency, Robertson said.
Some scam artists gain access to a person’s email account, creating invisible folders, and get to know a target’s email habits. They may learn that a large payment is pending. Then they use their knowledge by sending fake emails with directions for transmitting funds.
Brian Harper, Senior Vice President and SBA Division Manager of Atlantic Capital Bank also talked about his bank’s upcoming merger with SouthState Bank.
Ricky Robertson began his career in law enforcement and spent six years as a detective concentrating mostly on investigating white collar crime. During his time in law enforcement, Ricky completed computer forensic investigations and served as the commander of the crisis negotiation team. Over the past 14 years, Ricky has worked in banking in the Information & Corporate Security fields. As Atlantic Capital Bank’s Operational Risk Manager, Ricky’s main job responsibilities include Corporate Security, Information Security, and Operational Risk. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems and earned the Certified Protection Professional certification from ASIS International.
Mr. Harper has more than 25 years of business banking and lending experience and ample experience handling multi-million dollar transactions. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Dunwoody, Junior Achievement, Georgia Lenders Quality Circle, National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders, the Georgia Association of Business Brokers, Our Lady of Assumption Church, is a coach for Murphey Candler Baseball and a board member of the Georgetown Recreation Center.
Claudia Wilson, Vice President, SBA Relationship Manager at SouthState Bank, is sponsoring the meeting.
The GABB is the state’s preeminent organization of professionals involved in the purchase and sale of businesses and franchises, and operates the state’s only real estate school devoted to business brokering. For more information about the GABB, contact GABB president Judy Mims at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 404-918-3666; or email email@example.com or text 770-744-3639.Read More
When buying a business, buyers usually must sign a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA, in order to review sensitive information about the business, including financial details, inventory, and legal matters. Legally,
Anyone who has not signed an NDA isn’t legally bound by it, attorney and GABB affiliate Stephen M. Levinson told the Georgia Association of Business Brokers on July 27.
To hear Steve’s presentation and the rest of the GABB meeting, click this link.
Here’s a PDF of Steve’s presentation: Levinson NDA presentation
Now in his 33rd year of consistent practice experience, Mr. Levinson handles matters in the areas of business law; business sales and acquisitions; business/contract disputes; construction disputes; and alternate dispute resolutions and has so-far closed approximately 1,500 business transactions. He has also previously lectured about business transactions before Georgia Agent/Broker Groups including lecturing before business brokers for state credit. Steve is also an experienced Mediator and Neutral since 2009 and the owner of Northside ADR.
Mr. Levinson received his B.S. in Political Science in 1983 from the University of Miami and SUNY Brockport and earned his law degree from Georgia State University in 1989. Steve was admitted to the Bar in February of 1989 and is admitted to practice in the U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit; the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia; the Georgia Supreme Court; the Georgia Court of Appeals; and the State Courts throughout Georgia.
Beyond his law practice, Steve is the founder, and for many years, host of a weekly Nar-Anon family-peer support group serving those who deal with the addiction issues of loved ones and is also the co-founder and host of the Annual Deane W. Evans Memorial Golf Tournament, raising money to award merit based college scholarships to deserving high school students and doing other charitable work in memory of Deane Evans.
Steve and his wife Alison (high school sweethearts) are 34-plus year residents of Cherokee County and now live in Holly Springs. They are the proud parents of two adult sons, Alex and Aaron. They are active in many charitable endeavors and are longtime supporters and promoters of the Cherokee County Secret Santa Program, Atlanta Harm Reduction, Atlanta Community Food Bank, The Fulton County Canine Cellmates Program, Caring Hands Community (Kingston, NY), The Zaban Couples Shelter, Georgia Overdose Prevention, Friends of the Forlorn and other worthy causes.
The GABB is Georgia’s largest and most respected association of professionals who help people buy and sell businesses and franchises. Our association includes business brokers, lenders, appraisers, attorneys, business consultants and others who help business owners and entrepreneurs in many ways. Please review our directory if you are seeking a business broker or other professional.
For more information about the GABB, contact GABB President Judy Mims at 404-918-3666 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or GABB Executive Director Diane Loupe at email@example.com or text her at 770-744-3639.
When it comes to buying or selling a business, a solid confidentiality agreement is a must. A key way that business brokers and M&A advisors help buyers and sellers is through their extensive knowledge of confidentiality agreements and how best to implement them. In this article, we will give you an overview of what to expect out of your confidentiality agreements.
A confidentiality agreement is a legal agreement that essentially forbids both buyers and sellers, as well as related parties such as agents, from disclosing information regarding the transition. You should have a confidentiality agreement in place before discussing the business in any way and especially before divulging key information on the operation of the business or trade secrets.
While a confidentiality agreement can be used to keep the fact that a business is for sale private, that is only a small aspect of what modern confidentiality agreements generally seek to accomplish. Confidentiality agreements are used to ensure that a prospective buyer doesn’t use any proprietary data, knowledge, or trade secrets to benefit themselves or other parties.
When creating a confidentiality agreement, keep several variables in mind:
- What information will be excluded
- What information will be disclosed
- The term of the confidentiality agreement
- The remedy for breach, and
- The manner in which confidential information will be used and handled.
Any effective confidentiality agreement will contain a variety of key points. Sellers will want their confidentiality agreement to cover a fairly wide array of territory. or example, the confidentiality agreement will state that the potential buyer will not attempt to hire away employees. In general, this and many other details, will have a termination date.
The specifics of how confidentiality is to be maintained should also be included in the confidentiality agreement. Parties should agree to hold conversations in private; this point has become increasingly important due to the use of mobile phones and in particular the use of mobile phones in out-of-office locations. Additionally, it is prudent to specify that principal names should not be used in outside discussions and that a code name should be developed for the name of the proposed merger or acquisition.
Safeguarding documents is another area that should receive considerable attention. Digital files should be password protected. All paperwork should be kept in a safe location and locked away for maximum privacy when not in use.
In their enthusiasm to find a buyer for their business, many sellers have overlooked the confidentiality agreement stage of the process. Most have regretted doing so. A confidentiality agreement can help protect your business’s key information from being exploited during the sales process. Any experienced and capable business broker or M&A advisor will strongly recommend that buyers and sellers always depend on confidentiality agreements to establish information disclosure perimeters.
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Kim Eells, Senior Vice President and Small Business Administration (SBA) Business Development Officer for Georgia Primary Bank, discussed new SBA guidelines on dealing with Paycheck Protection Program loans when selling a business at the Nov. 10 GABB meeting. Kim is an Affiliate Board member of GABB.
The SBA issued guidelines on Oct. 2 that provide a framework to determine whether SBA consent is necessary when selling a business or other entity that has received PPP funds.
She recommended that sellers with PPP loans should ask forgiveness, a process that could take up to five months, but in practice usually takes less time. The SBA is also issuing a new form, 3508s which will make it easier for entities with PPP loans under $50,000 to apply for forgiveness.
If a business has an EIDL loan, she recommends postponing an application for PPP forgiveness.
GABB Affiliate attorney Wendy Kraby said that for the sale of a business with an SBA loan, “I am seeing the banks want to see very specific language in the Purchase Agreements detailing the requirement of an Escrow Account. The bank then wants to see that Agreement (before it is signed) to make sure it meets the bank’s requirements. Because of this, it is very important to contact the bank at the very beginning of planning for sale AND before a PSA is signed.”
Ms. Kraby described a typical provision to handle a PPP loan in a Purchase Agreement. “The Seller has taken out a Paycheck Protection Program loan in the amount of $______________with XXX Bank. Seller has completed and submitted a PPP Forgiveness Application along with all supporting documentation. At Closing, Seller shall deposit into an Interest Bearing Escrow Account controlled by XXX Bank Corporation an amount equal to the outstanding balance of the PPP loan pursuant to the Escrow Agreement, attached hereto as Exhibit “D.”
The Georgia Association of Business Brokers, or GABB, is the state’s premier organization devoted to buying and selling businesses and franchises, and operates the state’s only real estate school dedicated to business brokering. For more information about GABB, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, call or text 404-374-3990.
“The PPP has provided 5.2 million loans worth $525 billion to American small businesses, providing critical economic relief and supporting more than 51 million jobs,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a press release.
The SBA specifies that “There are different procedures depending on the circumstances of the change of ownership, as set forth below. In all cases, the PPP Lender is required to continue submitting the monthly 1502 reports until the PPP loan is fully satisfied.”
- 1.The PPP Note is fully satisfied. There are no restrictions on a change of ownership if, prior to closing the sale or transfer, the PPP borrower has:
- Repaid the PPP Note in full; or
- Completed the loan forgiveness process in accordance with the PPP requirements and:
- SBA has remitted funds to the PPP Lender in full satisfaction of the PPP Note; or
- The PPP borrower has repaid any remaining balance on the PPP
- The PPP Note is not fully satisfied. If the PPP Note is not fully satisfied prior to closing the sale or transfer, the following applies:
- Cases in which SBA prior approval is not required. If the following conditions are met for (i) a change of ownership structured as a sale or other transfer of common stock or other ownership interest or as a merger; or (ii) a change of ownership structured as an asset sale, the PPP Lender may approve the change of ownership and SBA’s prior approval is not required:
- Change of ownership is structured as a sale or other transfer of common stock or other ownership interest or as a merger. An individual or entity may sell or otherwise transfer common stock or other ownership interest in a PPP borrower without the prior approval of SBA only if:
- A. The sale or other transfer is of 50% or less of the common stock or other ownership interest of the PPP borrower3; or
- B. The PPP borrower completes a forgiveness application reflecting its use of all of the PPP loan proceeds and submits it, together with any required supporting documentation, to the PPP Lender, and an interest-bearing escrow account controlled by the PPP Lender is established with funds equal to the outstanding balance of the PPP loan. After the forgiveness process (including any appeal of SBA’s decision) is completed, the escrow funds must be disbursed first to repay any remaining PPP loan balance plus interest.
- In any of the circumstances described in a) or b) above, the procedures described in paragraph #2.c. below must also be followed.
- Change of ownership is structured as an asset sale. A PPP borrower may sell 50 percent or more of its assets (measured by fair market value) without the prior approval of SBA only if the PPP borrower completes a forgiveness application reflecting its use of all of the PPP loan proceeds and submits it, together with any required supporting documentation, to the PPP Lender, and an interest-bearing escrow account controlled by the PPP Lender is established with funds equal to the outstanding balance of the PPP loan. After the forgiveness process (including any appeal of SBA’s decision) is completed, the escrow funds must be disbursed first to repay any remaining PPP loan balance plus interest. The PPP Lender must notify the appropriate SBA Loan Servicing Center of the location of, and the amount of funds in, the escrow account within 5 business days of completion of the transaction.
- Cases in which SBA prior approval is required. If a change of ownership of a PPP borrower does not meet the conditions in paragraph #2.a. above, prior SBA approval of the change of ownership is required and the PPP Lender may not unilaterally approve the change of ownership.
To obtain SBA’s prior approval of requests for changes of ownership, the PPP Lender must submit the request to the appropriate SBA Loan Servicing Center. The request must include:
- the reason that the PPP borrower cannot fully satisfy the PPP Note as described in paragraph #1 above or escrow funds as described in paragraph #2.a above;
- the details of the requested transaction;
- a copy of the executed PPP Note;
- any letter of intent and the purchase or sale agreement setting forth the responsibilities of the PPP borrower, seller (if different from the PPP borrower), and buyer;
- disclosure of whether the buyer has an existing PPP loan and, if so, the SBA loan number; and
- a list of all owners of 20 percent or more of the purchasing entity.
If deemed appropriate, SBA may require additional risk mitigation measures as a condition of its approval of the transaction.
SBA approval of any change of ownership involving the sale of 50 percent or more of the assets (measured by fair market value) of a PPP borrower will be conditioned on the purchasing entity assuming all of the PPP borrower’s obligations under the PPP loan, including responsibility for compliance with the PPP loan terms. In such cases, the purchase or sale agreement must include appropriate language regarding the assumption of the PPP borrower’s obligations under the PPP loan by the purchasing person or entity, or a separate assumption agreement must be submitted to SBA.
SBA will review and provide a determination within 60 calendar days of receipt of a complete request.
- For all sales or other transfers of common stock or other ownership interest or mergers, whether or not the sale requires SBA’s prior approval. In the event of a sale or other transfer of common stock or other ownership interest in the PPP borrower, or a merger of the PPP borrower with or into another entity, the PPP borrower (and, in the event of a merger of the PPP borrower into another entity, the successor to the PPP borrower) will remain subject to all obligations under the PPP loan. In addition, if the new owner(s) use PPP funds for unauthorized purposes, SBA will have recourse against the owner(s) for the unauthorized use.If any of the new owners or the successor arising from such a transaction has a separate PPP loan, then, following consummation of the transaction: (1) in the case of a purchase or other transfer of common stock or other ownership interest, the PPP borrower and the new owner(s) are responsible for segregating and delineating PPP funds and expenses and providing documentation to demonstrate compliance with PPP requirements by each PPP borrower, and (2) in the case of a merger, the successor is responsible for segregating and delineating PPP funds and expenses and providing documentation to demonstrate compliance with PPP requirements with respect to both PPP loans.The PPP Lender must notify the appropriate SBA Loan Servicing Center, within 5 business days of completion of the transaction, of the:
- identity of the new owner(s) of the common stock or other ownership interest;
- new owner(s)’ ownership percentage(s);
- tax identification number(s) for any owner(s) holding 20 percent or more of the equity in the business; and
- location of, and the amount of funds in, the escrow account under the control of the PPP Lender, if an escrow account is required.
PPP Loans Pledged in Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility (PPPLF)
If a PPP loan of a PPP borrower associated with a change of ownership transaction was pledged by the PPP lender to secure a loan under the Federal Reserve’s PPPLF, the lender is reminded to comply with any notification or other requirements of the PPPLF.
SBA Procedural Notice: SBA PPP Loans and Change of Ownership
The Georgia Association of Business Brokers, or GABB, is the state’s premier organization devoted to buying and selling businesses and franchises, and operates the state’s only real estate school dedicated to business brokering. For more information about GABB, please email email@example.com, call or text 404-374-3990, or contact GABB president Dean Burnette at firstname.lastname@example.org or (912) 247-3209.
Only a small percentage of the population is able to go through life without using some form of financing at some point. Most people have little choice but to finance everything from their home and car purchases to their college education. Now, most business owners would love to receive an all-cash offer for their business. But the reality of most transactions is quite different. Owner financing is very common, and sometimes it is the only way to put a deal together.
Sellers have to be ready and willing to entertain the idea that they may, ultimately, be called upon to handle some aspect of financing if they want to sell their business. It surprises many to learn that if a seller is not willing to finance the sale, then buyers begin to worry and may even see this as something of a “red flag.” The reason for this is that many buyers feel that if a business is a solid investment, then the business will be profitable and repaying the seller should be no problem.
Buyers may worry that if a seller isn’t willing to help with financing there could be a “hidden” problem with the business. They may think this means sellers are “jumping from a sinking ship.” Sellers should keep this important aspect of buyer psychology in mind when deciding whether or not they are willing to finance.
Buyer psychology plays a major role in another aspect of seller financing and that comes in the form of collateral. Sellers may want to have some form of outside collateral to secure the loan on their business. While this may seem perfectly understandable to the seller, buyers can have something of a nervous response to this issue as well. Just as buyers worry that a seller’s refusal to provide financing is a red flag, buyers see the same red flag when sellers seek collateral. Once again, buyers think that if the business is healthy and thriving there should be no need for collateral. The buyer is left wondering, “What is going on here? How worried should I be? Why do they need collateral if this business is so great?”
Typically, buyers are “maxed out” when buying a main-street business. They are allocating most of their available funds to the down payment on the business. That means they will be unlikely to “push all their chips in” and gamble everything by also putting up the home, retirement funds or other collateral in the process. Sellers need to see the situation from the buyer’s perspective and remember that a collateral requirement could mean that if the business fails, the buyer could be left with nothing.
Navigating the complex interaction between buyers and sellers is no easy feat. It requires a careful balancing of several different skills, ranging from understanding finance to psychology. Working with an experienced business broker can help buyers and sellers connect and find workable agreements so deals can get made.
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