Entrepreneurship - Jim Southern
1. There are many personal and professional factors that created the opportunity for Jim Southern:
Graduating from Harvard Business School with MBA degree helped Jim in gaining extensive business knowledge and wide networking opportunities. As mentioned in the case, Jim was helped by his professor Tom Silver to meet John O'Leary, chairman and CEO of American Printing, Inc.
Jim showed interest in the industries that were similar to his professional expertise like insurance, acquisition, management and manufacturing.
Jim commissioned $30,000 to Nova Corporation from his pocket for company search which can also be termed as a factor for crating opportunity.
Jim was aware since the start about his interest of business. He had set certain criteria for targeting the right business which helped in saving a lot of resources like money and time.
Jim sought a business that had highly leveraged assets and high debt equity ratio.
2. The opportunity is attractive for Jim and his investors in the following ways:
American Printing Inc.'s business forms division has high market share and also high sales revenue. In 1983, it recorded sales worth $43 million which is approximately 35% of entire America's overall revenue.
The company is also the market leader in its Authentic Insurance Documents business which recorded $12.9 million sales in the same year which comprised 50% share of the entire market.
There was a positive projection for the sales in the year 1985-86 which was expected to grow by $800,000 to $1,600,000 due to certain changes in the policy language.
The company was insulated from shocks of the general industry.
Also, the company had linked the warehouse leases to the expiry dates of major customer contracts. In this way, there would be no negative effects on the profits.
The likely risks would be:
There was a risk of acquiring a business that may become obsolete which changing trends and technology by targeting a low tech company.
$4mn accounts payable guarantee expected from Jim which is high as his net worth is only $100,000.
The entire process took less than month and there was no due diligence done by Jim (buying a "pig in a poke")
The debt/equity ratio was 15:1 which is very high for a low growth business.
No increase in projected sales for years 1985-87 (Exhibit 15)
From American Printing's point of view:
Lucrative deal as it is all-cash transaction involving low risk
The cash generated can be used in other printing areas that have high growth potential.
From Lenders point of view:
Debt is secured by the company's assets which valued to $16.3 million in 1983.
Low risk of default
The large cash flows over years served as a guarantee of positive returns.
3. If I were Jim Southern, I would definitely go ahead with the project due to above mentioned reasons. Also, I would consider the NPV of the project which in this case seems positive as the projected cash flows are positive. To minimize the risk of not conducting any due diligence, I would inform all the investors at first place to avoid any future conflicts. I would use more leverages during negotiations with the owner. I would not go ahead with signing the guarantee of $4 million accounts payable and would try searching for some potential investor that would share the associated risks. Lastly, I would also consider about closing some plants that are no longer generating cash.