How to Identify the Right M&A Target for Your Business

Published Date : Mar 2023
Author : Pratibha Bhattacharjee
Biography : Sr. content writer at Brand Essence Market Research. Passionate about content curation in the market research vertical. Always striving to create reliable and engaging industry-based content.

Acquiring another company is an effective way to achieve growth for many businesses. But finding and assessing the right acquisition target can be a daunting task. Many executives make mistakes during the process, such as only looking for companies that are for sale or not asking the right questions during due diligence. However, there are several strategies that can be used to help ensure that the right acquisition target is identified and assessed.

Analyze your target company

Before embarking on an acquisition, it is essential to outline your growth approach. Determine where you wish to grow, how you wish to do it, and the where you want to take your company. Firstly, be clear on the basis for the acquisition. This will help guide the process and ensure that potential targets are assessed against specific criteria.

Prepare a list of narrowed down options

Make a list of criteria that includes geographical location, revenue, profitability, headcount, and what is that you can actually afford. This approach aids in uncover the emotion of the decision and provides a filtering system to identify the most suitable acquisition targets.

Do not rush Alone! Take help and advice where needed

Expert help is invaluable when it comes to identifying and assessing potential acquisition targets. Look out for business brokers, investment bankers, or law firms that have precise industry expertise or M&A advisers or aim the companies that are in distress. Selecting the appropriate partner is critical in setting the benchmark for the candidates’ quality and type you wish to consider.

Know seller motivation

Understanding the seller’s motivation is essential. Leaders sell the businesses for various reasons, including retirement, knowing that the time is right, or seeing their company in peril. Find out early, since this will affect the things such as employee retention, management structure, as well as customer satisfaction. Seller motivation is also the factor showcasing the flexibility of the buyer when it comes to the negotiation price.

Don’t overlook “Culture” factor

Cultural alignment is critical when it comes to acquisitions. Before proceeding with due diligence, know if the target is a cultural fit. Talk to the target’s leadership, and conduct research on social media platforms to see what employees say about their employers. Cultural alignment is vital as you will be buying and dealing with employees having serious experience and knowledge. If in case you lose them just for the reason that you don’t know the culture, you are perhaps trailing down on a major value of the company you thought you bought.

M&A Criteria to be considered

When identifying potential target companies for a merger or acquisition, the buyer should establish a set of criteria that aligns with their business objectives. These criteria may include factors such as

  • Whether the target company will contribute to the buyer's overall business strategy
  • Whether the target company is of the desired size
  • Whether the target company possesses the necessary technology, products and services
  • Whether the target company operates in a high-growth market
  • Whether the target company can be integrated into the buyer's business and culture
  • What are the target company's prospects for long-term growth
  • Whether the timing is right to pursue the target company.

By establishing clear criteria, the buyer can narrow down their list of potential targets and focus on those that are most likely to meet their strategic goals.

Factors to consider while prioritizing your target

  • Stable growth rate: The target company should have a history of consistent and stable growth over a period of time. This demonstrates the potential for continued success in the future.
  • Diversified product portfolio: A company with a diverse range of products or services is often more attractive to a buyer as it can reduce the risk associated with relying on a single product or market.
  • Profit: A target company that is profitable and has strong financials is often a more attractive acquisition target.
  • Innovation history: A company that has a track record of innovation and developing new products or services may bring valuable intellectual property to the buyer.
  • Market leadership: A target company that is a leader in its market or has a unique and valuable niche specialty may provide the buyer with a competitive advantage.
  • Management team: The target company's management team is an important consideration as they will play a key role in the integration process and the ongoing success of the acquired business.
  • Special legal, environmental or regulatory issues: Any legal, regulatory or environmental issues that the target company may face must be carefully considered by the buyer as they could have significant impact on the value of the company or the cost of the acquisition.

Final words

Acquiring another company can be an excellent way to achieve growth, but it must be done strategically. Knowing your company, establishing a wish list, seeking expert help, understanding seller motivation, and calculating culture are all essential steps to identifying and assessing the right acquisition target. Avoiding mistakes such as only looking for companies that are for sale, not asking the right questions, or downplaying things like culture, seller motivation, or management structure can help ensure a successful acquisition. Remember, being thorough in the acquisition process is key to achieving success.

The process of identifying potential acquisition targets is a critical initial phase for serial acquirers. It involves strategic planning to determine the company's current status and future direction, followed by a gap analysis to identify requirements for novel business prospects. The business strategy is aligned with the M&A strategy to achieve the desired benefits.

An inclusive list of companies is made based on the buyer's business objectives, and this list is narrowed down via external and internal sources of information. A relative analysis is then prepared to select the concluding list of companies that happen to fulfill all the acquisition criteria. Overall, building a pipeline of potential acquisition targets is essential for successful mergers and acquisitions.



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