December 20, 2018

New England Groundview: Corporates "Always on the Run"

Abby Roberts | December 20, 2018

Miguel Gomez, Director Merrill Datasite, covers the corporate market in Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Western Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Eastern and Fairfield County, Connecticut.

Q. What trends do you see in the New England market?

Corporates are always trying to get ahead of the game. They want to find hot new markets and absorb them before anyone else does. It’s important for them to know who the smaller companies are.

Staying in front of the market is tough, and corporates do a lot of research. The more successful ones I see are constantly on the run. They are consistently connecting with new players. I see a lot of them at local networking events for startups, for instance. These relationships take years to develop.

From a sector perspective, healthcare is hot.  Anything from medical devices to life sciences to hospitals – there’s a lot of buying happening. For instance, small hospitals are being snapped up in Vermont and New Hampshire.

Small medical device companies are being absorbed by players you wouldn’t even think of, such as aerospace companies. Some large technology businesses do a tiny acquisition that no one ever hears about. Sometimes they don’t even use a data room.

There’s also a very tight-knit biotech community here in Boston. It’s a small world - there're a lot of people who just refer each other for investments and deals.

Q. How are clients using DatasiteOne to drive value?

Many of our more sophisticated corporate clients are using DatasiteOne for the “what ifs” by keeping documents stored on our platform on an ongoing basis. This allows them to share files easily with their external bankers, lawyers and consultants, and be ready for a quick acquisition, exit or – if they’re public – to manage an activist shareholder attack.

And it’s not just M&A. More people are using us for their Series A, B or C funding, or anything to do with sensitive information generally. In addition to data security, it gives them visibility into who’s looking at what documents in real time. Having that transparency at the click of a button gives clients peace of mind.

I’ve also had so many conversations with clients where they are using DatasiteOne because it’s easier than internal file sharing tools and they don’t have to worry about compatibility with external advisor systems, data security, etc.

Everyone is always scared about what could happen to their highly private information if it got into the wrong hands. And the concern is not just about hacking; I’ve spoken to many clients who worry that if they externalize their internal file sharing platform, they open up the possibility that an accidental click could give someone access to the whole company site. So a lot of companies are trying to get away from that because there are a lot of risks involved.

Even if they aren’t ready to move to a subscription service, more corporates are taking advantage of our build periods to prep longer for sale. Some are doing it just to wrap their heads around the notion of using a virtual data room and make sure their teams are trained up. They’ve heard of a virtual data room but never had to use it.

I see this move to a subscription or longer-term environment as part of an overall shift to an “always on” corporate development practice. Companies are under a lot of pressure to stay competitive with private equity firms, which means they need to be able to act fast no matter what kind of transaction they’re participating in. And key to acting fast in a corporate setting is preparation and organization.

Q. What’s the DatasiteOne difference?

In addition to ease of use, the transparency of our application. Clients love the real-time visibility into who is looking at what document. We also didn’t just stick some new features onto our old platform, but we built DatasiteOne from the ground up. It is constantly being updated through client comments and feedback, and faster than anything else in the market.

The other big thing you get with us is our customer service. We always go the extra mile. Clients can call us for sell or buy-side transactions, or if they just need a repository. We want to be their go-to partner for the whole life cycle.

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