Marc Cooper Discusses The Art Of Closing A Deal In Mergers & Acquisitions

Mastering The Endgame: The Art Of Closing A Deal

by CEO Marc S. Cooper

A deal isn’t a deal until it actually closes. In the high-stakes world of mergers and acquisitions (M&A), the journey from deal inception to signed closing documents can be full of unexpected twists and turns.

I’ve navigated through my share of complex transactions, witnessing firsthand the interplay of price negotiations, management clashes and eleventh-hour dramas that make or break deals.

Hollywood scriptwriters tend to portray the world of M&A as a zero-sum game, in which one side bests the other in a contest of strategic guile and one-upmanship. The reality is that investment banking is rarely quite as breathless and adversarial as all that. Yet there are often surprise developments and emotional undercurrents that financial advisors confront when companies change ownership.

Getting deals done requires way more than just crunching the numbers, though that’s obviously an essential skill. As I’ve written before, successful acquisitions, or divestitures, have to be conceived and structured in a thematic way, backed up by a robust integration plan that’s focused, methodical and sets out clear targets and deliverables.

The “trouble” is that companies aren’t run by androids but by complex humans with unique professional backgrounds, personalities—and egos. These variables color decision-making throughout the lengthy process needed to bring a complex deal to a successful conclusion.

That’s why, in my experience, the best investment bankers know how to read a room. They’re strategic architects, agile problem-solvers and emotionally intelligent observers. They’re determined, they nudge, and they keep senior business leaders focused on the prize. When a CEO or founder gets wobbly in the late innings of deal negotiations, an effective financial advisor finds a way to restore their resolve.

Public and private M&A transactions have their own characteristics and cadences. Public deals tend to be more process-oriented, choreographed by regulatory compliance and legal requirements and influenced by market dynamics and the broader macroeconomic environment.

In contrast, private deals tend to be more eclectic in nature, often shaped by legacy considerations and personalized negotiations between buyer and seller that require a different skill set, or a personal touch, from financial advisors.

Regardless, the endgame of any deal is almost always challenging. When it comes to combining big publicly listed companies, the biggest closing risks in my view tend to be from government antitrust challenges, or a surprise rival bidder crashing the party.

For private companies, with deeply rooted ownership legacies, the process of selling a company can be an emotionally unsettling process. You’re often advising founders whose family may have owned a business for generations and who have devoted their adult lives to a business. Letting go isn’t always easy.

Trust is the currency of successful deal closures. Clients and investors rely on the M&A advisor’s expertise and integrity throughout the transaction life cycle. Advisors must proactively manage due diligence, mitigate risks and ensure transparent communication among all stakeholders. Experience plays a pivotal role in guiding financial professionals in making informed decisions, foreseeing challenges and steadily steering negotiations toward favorable outcomes.

All that said, not every deal makes it across the finish line. Walking away from a deal is sometimes the wisest course of action, preserving a client’s capital resources, and an investment bank’s reputation for impartiality and integrity, over the long run.

Surprises are inevitable in any complicated negotiation. The artistry of closing deals is knowing how to handle them with finesse, resilience and, when called for, a little bit of empathy.

The information provided here is not investment, tax or financial advice. You should consult with a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation. This article originally appeared on

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