The Year Ahead

By Jim Birge – Incoming ACG Indiana President and Partner Faegre Baker Daniels

Regarding change, Winston Churchill quipped “To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to change often.”  In ACG Indiana’s pursuit of perfection, we will focus during the upcoming year on expanding our membership base to include more business development professionals and senior executives from the State’s strong bench of operating companies.  By leveraging our existing strengths within the private equity, legal, commercial lending, investment banking, and accounting communities to better engage with leaders of emerging and high-growth Indiana businesses, we will broaden our membership base, diversify our programming opportunities, and enhance the State’s economic development opportunities.  

While the opportunity for membership growth by reaching out to these operating executives is self-evident, I’d like to focus on the other two opportunities referenced above.  Our members consistently identify ACG’ s operating company presentations as the most dynamic, informative programming that we offer.  Whether it is Jeff Smulyan describing Emmis’s latest piece of technology to transform cell phone use or KAR providing a roadmap for how its acquisition strategy resulted in a 17,400 employee juggernaut in the vehicular auction space, these are the stories that our members want to hear.  By expanding our reach into these operating companies, we will find more of these growth strategies that will resonate, and perhaps inspire audience members to pursue similar trajectories of their own.  In a similar vein, many of these operating companies want to share their stories for marketing, business development, or proof of concept purposes, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to ACG if our community of transaction professionals could be helpful in that regard.

For economic development purposes, if we can more tightly integrate our deal professionals with our operating company executives, we increase the likelihood of creating the next Anthem, which started as a single Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Indiana, and became the second largest health insurer in the world through a series of acquisitions of its sister blue entities in other states, culminating in a merger with WellPoint.  Although not every acquisition strategy will have such a payoff, a Bain & Company study that looked at over 1,600 companies and 18,000 transactions during the 2000s concluded that companies who pursued an acquisition-driven growth strategy outperformed their peers who relied solely on organic growth.  The Bain study further concluded that frequent acquirers did better than episodic acquirers, due the repeatable integration model that they could create, as well as the experience resulting from serial acquisitions.  ACG is the perfect forum for talented executives, who are considering a more acquisition-driven growth strategy, to immerse themselves in the world of valuations, auction processes, transaction structures, and other lynchpins of sound deal creation.  In short, to all the operating company executives and business development officers who are evaluating strategic growth options, please join us at ACG, and we will guarantee to make your time worthwhile.