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An M&A playbook for Ottawa businesses

With 11 dedicated business lawyers, Mann boasts one of the biggest M&A teams in the region

Mann LLP's M&A team
Mann LLP's M&A team

No matter which side of the table you’re sitting on, the process of buying or selling a business can be simultaneously exciting, sad and stressful.

At a time when so much is at stake, it’s important to have the right team standing with you ready to fight for your interests.

“In M&A transactions, a lawyer is often the quarterback,” says André Martin, senior partner and leader of the business law group at Mann Lawyers LLP. While Mann is a full-service firm, with experienced lawyers across all areas of practice, its business law group is its biggest, with 11 lawyers. The team can assist with the smallest to the largest of transactions, across Canada, the US and internationally.

André advises the following to make the M&A process easier for anyone, no matter what role you’re playing:

Seek legal advice early

Even before talks of mergers or acquisitions or sales begin, it can be beneficial to bring a lawyer into the mix to ensure your operations run smoothly.

In many instances, M&A transactions are years in the making, and having trusted advisors on hand to guide you in the lead up can avoid legal missteps along the way.

Assemble a team you trust

This means both internally and in terms of your legal and accounting teams.

Things can get messy when a business is sold off. Emotions flare and partnerships forged at the outset can erode faster than one might expect.

An experienced practitioner will have had a hand in all different aspects of M&A transactions – including employee relations, alongside other areas such as financing – that can help make the process as smooth as possible.

In selecting a lawyer, André recommends businesses seek out those with a wealth of firsthand experience in M&A.

Have agreements in place

In M&A discussions, nondisclosure agreements between all parties ensure the details of a company’s internal operations – including its finances – aren’t made public. These prevent third parties from undermining the transaction by using insider knowledge shared behind closed doors.

Letters of intent are also critical to the success of an M&A transaction. These cover a multitude of topics, from no shop covenants to the fundamental terms of the transaction, even if all the fine details have yet to be worked out.

A great lawyer will know when you should have such agreements in place.

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