Confidential Information Memorandum (CIM): Its Key Role in a Sale

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There’s the expression, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” For many healthcare business owners thinking about selling their company, the first impression they may personally make on prospective buyers will come from a confidential information memorandum (CIM). And if that CIM doesn’t represent the business in a professional, positive, and transparent manner, the owner may not get a chance to receive a fair offer.

What exactly is a CIM? It’s the document used to market your business to potential buyers. It may go by other names, including a pitch deck, investor deck, the “book,” or confidential information presentation (CIP). The document is typically called a CIM when used in the sale of a mature business and a pitch deck for startups.

While the name is interchangeable, the content is not. A CIM is the initial source of data and information a buyer uses to evaluate the candidacy of an investment target relative to its investment thesis. Broadly speaking, the CIM explains what the business does and the type of transaction the owners are seeking.

Most business owners do not create a CIM until they are prepared to actively market their business for a sale. However, if an unsolicited buyer takes interest in your company, immediate signals are sent if you do not have a CIM, let alone one that’s current: You’re unprepared for a sale, and the buyer is in a good position to negotiate a value deal. At least those are the signals buyers receive, regardless of whether they’re true. Simply responding to interested buyers with an annually updated CIM signals a posture toward prospective buyers that you are not interested in a low-ball offer.

On the other hand, if you intend to execute a coordinated, professional M+A process to sell your business, a CIM is required. You will be marketing your business to dozens — if not hundreds — of potential buyers, many of whom analyze numerous potential acquisitions each week. Without the data about your healthcare business consolidated in a professional manner, buyers are much less likely to invest the time into understanding your company’s raw data.

Moreover, organizing and presenting the data allows you to structure the narrative in ways that emphasize your company’s strengths while providing explanation on potential weaknesses. You can tell your story in ways that benefit you as opposed to allowing a buyer to “discover” the hair — the operational, legal, financial, or other aspects of the business that have had errors, inefficiencies, or other liabilities — and speculating on any other skeletons.

This article taking a closer look at the importance and development of a CIM is written for two audiences: 1) sellers who are hiring a professional M+A advisor, like VERTESS, to help them proceed with a sale and develop a supporting CIM or to double check that their current advisor included the relevant, key points in the CIM and 2) owners who endeavor to manage the sale of their business without a professional M+A advisor (not advisable) and therefore need tips and best practices to create an impactful CIM.

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