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Why we put M&A deals up in lights every year


When FT Editor-in-Chief Beth Ewen came to me with the idea of the Franchise Times Dealmakers a few years ago—drum roll, but no surprise—I was all in.

After all, under Franchise Times Corp.’s umbrella is Franchise Times magazine, of course, but also its sister publication the Restaurant Finance Monitor, and two finance conferences: The Restaurant Finance & Development Conference held in November each year, and The Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference, held in the spring. Suffice it to say, this company is steeped in covering the world of finance in the franchise and restaurant sectors.

When Beth explained her idea—an independent panel of judges chooses the best M&A deals and other financial transactions in franchising from the previous year—I knew we had something our readers would love. Franchise Times has strong relationships with lenders, banks, private equity, investment banks and attorneys, to name a few who participate in these transactions, and wouldn’t they want to see their deals “up in lights,” so to speak? Plus, wouldn’t the business owners themselves like center stage?

Yes, and yes. They wanted to celebrate their hard work and so did we. And this year’s group is no exception, as you’ll see when you read Beth’s great coverage.

What’s exceptional about the winning deals is the amount of behind-the-scenes maneuvering involved, and the creativity needed to close them. Often when these individuals are interviewed we hear the buyers and sellers have to peel away multiple layers of the onion to get to the desired result for both sides.

Take our Deal of the Year, where Levy Acquisition bested all others to purchase Del Taco using a publicly held shell company to buy shares, refinance debt and then take the 50-year-old brand public. It had been a turnaround effort before owner Larry Levy and team had set eyes on it. How to attract that fickle millennial crowd, the generation every business is aiming to please? CEO Paul Murphy is leading the charge, and with uber restaurateur Levy behind him, we know there will be opinions on how to keep the momentum going.

Mary Jo Larson

Mary Jo Larson

Reach Mary Jo at 612-767-3208
or mlarson@franchisetimes.com

You won’t want to miss learning from these business leaders who took a chance on doing something big.

And speaking of leaders, this month’s issue also features our Legal Eagles: the top franchise attorneys in the U.S. and Canada. Franchising starts with a legal contract, so it’s logical there are lawyers doing transactional work at a high level (franchising also is no stranger to conflict, so lawyers specializing in litigation as well need to excel). The Legal Eagles were also chosen by nominations from peers and clients, along with our editorial board. After you peruse the list, read Beth’s interviews with six new inductees into the Hall of Fame to find out which franchise attorney may, or may not, be sporting a tattoo of an Iowa sports team. (At FT, we cover everything franchise-related, and I mean everything.)

Around those two large features, we also offer stories on hotel lobbies geared for that same millennial crowd to hang, when not to expand into Kuwait (hint: when it’s 124 degrees), the franchisor who un-franchised her company, and advice on escaping duct tape.

And now we’re off to Vegas to honor our Dealmakers at the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference, as well as listen to C-level speeches from 30+ established and up-and-coming franchise concepts. On stage, they’ll get to talk about their growth plans, but once they step off stage, who knows what interesting facts our editorial team will uncover beyond tattoos and the family pet’s name.

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