Bye-bye, M&A language barrier. Hello, due diligence safety net.

April 12, 2022 | Blog

Bye-bye, M&A language barrier. Hello, due diligence safety net.

Due diligence – what is it good for? Absolutely everything, when you’re doing M&A – but most of all, it’s about mitigating risk. Rigorous due diligence should minimize risk for both the buyer and seller. But in practice, it’s not always so easy. When deals involve multiple languages, even the best translators can miss crucial details when the documents to inspect can run into hundreds of thousands. This reintroduces risk to every phase of due diligence.

What’s more, foreign language documents run far more risk of being indexed incorrectly, so they end up in the wrong part of the data room. Just consider: if you search for the term ‘Change of Control’ across 150,000 documents in a data room, a search function based on English alone will only find the phrase in English. But that on hundreds of other documents, that phrase might be ‘Changement de contrôle’ in French or countless variations in whatever other languages are involved – and you would never know (unless you manually checked). Such documents might therefore never be highlighted for review, and risks could slip through the net.

An additional problem arises when documents only exist in hard copy and have to be scanned. This renders them unsearchable by standard automation, even if you know what phrases to look for. It may then seem that your only option is manual searching by someone who speaks the language – adding days, weeks or months to the due diligence process.

Obviously what’s needed is a document search that automatically handles multiple languages, even from scanned hard copies. So that’s what Datasite has created.

Deal effortlessly with 16 languages

What happens when a Datasite users searches on a phrase such as ‘Change of control’? The search highlights all instances of this phrase, not just in English, but its equivalent in a total of 14 different languages. Crucially, as well as understanding those 14 languages, the search is also attuned to the terminology of M&A in all those tongues – so doesn’t just rely on a literal word-for-word replacement if the local phrase is somewhat different. This further reduces the risk of missing anything important.

Hard copies are handled just as easily. The Datasite multilingual search uses optical character recognition (OCR) to make scans into searchable documents. This means that every document can be swiftly and accurately indexed, regardless of its original medium or the language it’s written in. Everything is automatically filed in the right places, and nothing escapes scrutiny.

The full list of languages currently handled includes:

  • English
  • German
  • Spanish
  • French
  • Italian
  • Portuguese Brazilian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Polish
  • Russian
  • Swedish
  • Turkish
  • Chinese (Simplified)
  • Chinese (Traditional)
  • Danish
  • Greek
Technology built on experience

Datasite’s multiple language search and OCR capabilities have proved a hit internationally, delivering success for dealmakers in over 170 countries. Global workflows have never been easier, and 22% of projects on Datasite include two or more administrators working from different countries. Best of all, security is stronger than ever – because nothing ever has to leave the safety of that single data room.

"Optical Character Recognition is a key part of search, providing a way to process documents in another language, pick up hand-written content and isolate words out of images. The leads to a smarter search across a variety of content easily returning all the relevant results."
- Tasha Holmes, Product Manager, Core Search

Having such cutting-edge technology is only part of what makes Datasite the choice for so many dealmakers worldwide. The key factor is that this technology has been developed directly from Datasite’s half-century of M&A experience and global expertise. In short, the experts at Datasite know exactly what is needed from today’s machine-learning M&A tools, having confronted the issues directly over decades.

But even that technology wouldn’t be enough without Datasite’s industry-leading customer service, which includes 24/7/365 expert service available in 20+ languages. It all helps to make the notoriously high-stress, high-risk world of due diligence the very opposite of those things.