M&A Effect or should I say ENT515 Effect

by Sachin

“I am not here to tell you what you should do or should not do; instead I am here to activate your thinking process which will help you to take effective decisions in your business”

These were the words Prof Pamela said before she started her first session of Managing M&A. She said it and she did just that, not only her session was eventful with couple of classroom presentations and chapter questions thrown at us for discussions, but also brought pool of her own real-time experience as an entrepreneur, be it good or bad, was shared with us.

After this course my fact base has grown bigger with another layer of fat of information around it, getting to know how to deal with VC’s, especially to know that almost every VC’s have their own vested interest and seeks a very high return on investments, thus for a new startup like me its important not to get desperate and even should be ready to get on trenching to negotiate VC’s share on the company and profits. Other would be constructive ways to pitching your ideas for startups and the preferred locations for startups, which in my case would be Delaware, a preferred location for a software company, for being a tax heaven and having liability protection and much more.

Though M&A sounds quite commonsensical to people, just like one of my office colleague did and infact questioned me if a separate master course was required just for M&A, I first agreed to him but when I finished my 32 hr session on M&A, I argued back to disagree that it was not enough and required more time and effort to dig deeper. What I liked most about the M&A Process was, despite the fact that takeover gives a pessimistic feel to it; target shareholder realizes high returns in both successful and unsuccessful bids. Another interesting part was to know how a typical shareholder’s average returns on hostile bids could go up by 32 % far more compared to friendly Bids which could return 22%.

Takeovers could make smaller companies vulnerable and the threat could come well within. To cater to these vulnerabilities companies should mandatorily design takeover defenses which could help companies gain leverage in negotiating with potential buyer. I specifically liked Poison Pill practice, a type of defenses that acts as an efficient protection mechanism against uninvited offers by raising the cost of acquisition. To know the fact that laying down such defensive mechanisms actually gives a much positive outcome and has allowed companies to remain independent, a chance that grew from 34% to staggering 61%.

Other ready-made meal was the concept of management buyout or employee buyout, Prof Pamela with her experience in the same was quite affirmative; no rather passionate about its Hi-growth mantra and success. Doing a masters course in entrepreneurship does allow me to at least think about transforming from an employee to becoming an employer soon, better if the opportunity comes within the current company given the favorable situation and with obligatory arrangements, I hope it’s possible.

The part that intrigued me in this course, which I am reasonably inclined to take advantage of would be, the growing quest of companies to achieve ultimate market power or market domination with M&A, which is creating massive ripples in the existing market, with some minute improvisation on any existing product or services, many individuals will get a life time opportunity to rake in the mullah much faster than time. I would just wish them all the luck and would advise them don’t forget the Prof.


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ENT515 Managing Joint Ventures, Strategic Alliances, and Technological Collaborations

by Clarence Chiang

In my opinion, this is one of the most important and relevant modules in the programme because setting up a business is really just the beginning of the game. The skills and knowledge required in strategising and running the business in the long term are really entirely different games altogether.

The author Robert Kiyosaki once said, ‘Setting up a business is like getting married and having kids”. He was referring to the complexity and long term commitment of setting up a business. If this analogy is fair, then running the business should be likened to parenthood and bringing up kids. The bigger the business organisation means having more kids. And this module is exactly like a parenting course for business. We learnt about the different aspects and avenues of growing our business, such as Merger & Acquisition, Strategic Alliance, Joint Venture, Licensing, Franchising and other forms of Collaboration. We also learnt about the sources of funding for setting business (the family).

The outcome of attending any courses would always greatly depend on the person delivering the knowledge and the person receiving it. In most cases, knowledge is an evolution from experience, and hence, the person delivering the lesson and imparting the knowledge should possess the appropriate and sufficient experience to fulfil the role. My colleagues who attended this course with me are all glad that SIM University has engaged the right Professor to conduct this course and imparted her most valuable knowledge as an entrepreneur to us. The syllabus were delivered via sharing of real life experiences that benefited the entrepreneur-students like us, sparing us from the mind-boggling kind of academic lessons.

Being a relatively young company in our industry, we are blessed with supports from customers, principals, bankers and government agencies, and are able to achieve the growth targets we set for ourselves. We now have to strategise the next stage of growth for the business, which the knowledge learned in this course would come in very handy. The course has led us through the thinking process of evaluating the various options available to us.

In my opinion, the most appropriate strategy in our line of business is the Merger and Acquisition. Though our company is relatively young in the welding market, welding is actually a very old line of trade with many other companies been in the business in our market for decades. While some companies have grown and gone public listed, most are still run by founders whom are near or passed retirement age. Some are lucky to have children interested to inherit their businesses, while others are hoping to have someone outside their family to acquire their business so that they can retire. Such companies may become good acquisition targets for us, but there are much considerations to make if we want the acquisition to be successful and beneficial to all parties. Acquisition is like growing the family by adopting more children. We have to consider whether we can cope with and have the resources to manage a bigger family. Besides, getting the new members to blend in to our family is an issue we have to handle. Our own children, the acquirer’s staff members and organisation have to learn to live and work with the new siblings.

‘Adoption’ Laws (Acquisition Laws) is also something we have to be mindful of when we are making acquisition in other countries. National security and pride could unexpectedly hinder a well-intentioned, purely commercial-natured Merger and Acquisition deal. Nonetheless, Merger and Acquisition remains a good avenue for our company to grow our business in the near future, and this course has led us to start thinking of the critical issues we have to face if this is going to be the chosen path. Most importantly, we have to keep our Company Vision in mind to be the ‘Total Welding Solution Provider with Products that Matter’. The acquisition targets must have products and services that complement and not duplicate ours.

Strategic Alliance might also be another good avenue of growth for our company. Though a relatively young company, the partners and staff members in our company have been in the welding business for as long as three decades. Another strength our us is our good mix of staff in various age groups, from the twenties to the sixties. As such, we can bring to the table our Technical know-how of the business and financial resources should we go into Strategic Alliances to seize any business opportunities.

In the course, Prof Pam also led us through some exercises of researching on various sources of funding for new start-ups. What really impressed me and in my opinion, set Prof Pam apart from other academic professors is her practical experience. In one case, we presented a list of criteria of what a Venture Capitalist would be looking for before investing in our business. We gave a list of text-book answers, but Prof Pam just gave a very practical and realistic advice. She said while those criteria are important, the key is actually ‘Networking’, which is not mentioned in the list. I guess any practical entrepreneur and businessmen could appreciate what she meant.

by, Clarence Chiang Hai Chuen

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Road On Entrepreneurship

by Arthur Ng Hui Teck

My name is Arthur and I am from UniSim undergoing the Master in Technopreneurship. My first job lasted 10 years and from a sales representive who climbed the corporate ladder till a Sales Manager during my term with the company. Then the company went thru a drastic restructuring in end of 2007 where many employees were upset and thus together with a few other senior management, we leave and started Allalloy which supply welding material, consumables and accessories to the heavy metal fabrication industry.

Allalloy started operation in January 2008. We just celebrated our 3rd year anniversary this month and looking forward to strive a better result for our fourth year. Our lives changes drastically when the company is incorporated. Everything that happens in the company require us to think and make a decision. Starting from selection of office premises/layout, purchase of office equipment like fax, computers, furniture's, Corporate secretarial work of filings etc. As all our background are working for a listed company, most of the things we need to do it ourselves now is provided for last time, so we learn as we are on it.

After a year of operation, we took part in the Emerging Enterprise and walk out being one of the winners. This has boost our confidence and has some assurance that the company is moving in the correct path. As an winner, we get our bank lines easier as more banks is interested to work with us. Also we manage to get a lot of support from Spring and we are able to send few of our staffs to further enhance their knowledge and that is why I am here.

The modules packed into this course is very interesting and relevant to a entrepreneur. Many of times we learn the theories (which we will never know if we did not attend the course) behind all the things we have been doing day to day. I find that the course helps us to understand more in many aspect and we are able to make sound judgement and manage our business in a better way. Also the sharing of knowledge with our classmates which they have their own encounter and experience makes it very interesting.

ENT515 lectured by Pamela has come into a very good timing for us. We are currently looking into some vertical/horizontal integration in the company to expand our business. We are talking to 2 companies that we find with great Synergy that we can form a strategic alliance by merging with them or doing a JV. The ways to form a alliances, valuation of the company, tax and accounting considerations, structuring the deal, going thru agent to look for targeted company, integration of the 2 companies after merger etc helps us tremendously in our current project.

Also as we have the aspiration to list our company, Pamela has discussed on how to get a company IPO and the route to do it. Some ideas she had given has never cross our mind and the offshore incorporations has equipped us with the knowledge that we could set up a company elsewhere to enjoy the tax benefits of that particular country. The business plan discussion and how a VC works also provide us with a good knowledge and should we need to approach a VC next time, I believe we should know how to negotiate with them on their terms and condition base on what we have to offer.

2 more modules and with a final business plan, we will graduate. Will sure miss my weekend classes. Back to normal life again!!

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Ng Eng Ru, Andrew

ENT515 - A pleasure to attend your class

I was really skeptical about taking up this TEN Exe-Master program when my general manager put it across to me a year back. The hesitation back then was on the additional workloads and possible stress that I would have to go thru having to juggle between my hectic work schedule and my studies. Another concern was on whether this course is going to be useful and of any help in my career path. The need to further upgrade myself, both academically and practically, finally convinced me to take up this course. Another main driving force that drives me to take up this course is also on my interest in learning what the aspects in starting and running a business are, so that I will be well equip to eventually start my own business one day.

A year had passed and after going thru the various modules like marketing, strategy, financial, accounting, project management, supply chain management etc, I was glad that I actually opted in to take up this TEN program. Indeed the modules that we had gone thru had helped me to better understand the various steps in starting a new business venture. I had also learn about the various skills needed to run a business and also ways to protect and make the business sustainable. Some examples are like marketing strategies, Intellectual Protection and also about various funding that is available in Singapore for new start-up company. As a holder of an engineering diploma and also an engineer in profession, I have been taught and trained to think in a systematical and logical ways. Since going thru these modules, I have learned to see and analyze thing in another perspective and also learn the “tricks” that the lecturers had imparted to us in class in running a business.

I had just completed the ENT515 modules and I would say that this is one of the best modules that I liked to attend and pay more attention to. The way that Ms Pamela Lim conducted the lesson was indeed interesting and interacting. As an entrepreneur herself, Pamela was able to share with us her vast experience in starting and running a business. Lesson was not taught solely from the textbook itself and we are able to learn and gain knowledge from her out from the book. She teaches us to think practically, which is what the real business world is, and not to follow the academic notes blindly. The real life stories that she had share with us was truly enlightening, especially the part on how a VC will think and operate. The way the classes was conducted, with the small break up sessions, also encourage us to think and share our views on the topic been discussed. From this module, I learn about how a merger & acquisition was done and also the ways to value a company. I had also gain an insight into the various takeover tactics and defenses that are use during an M&A.

It was indeed a pleasure to attend Ms Pamela classes and I believe the lessons and experiences that I had brought back with me from these classes will benefits me in the near future. Once again I really enjoy the lesson very much and the teaching too! Thank you Pamela.

Andrew Ng

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Learning with Technology Entrepreneurship Program

by Thomas Teo ENT515

Thanks to SPRING encourages us to participate in this course, initially I just think about to upgrade our knowledge after working for more than 20 years. The feeling to back to school is great, the teaching modules are very relevant to our works, so we won’t feel bore at all, even we have burn many weekends in school.

My background is in mechanical engineering, so I would like to say that the account and finance modules have enlighten us to analysis the financial statement, as well as provide us the various source of funds in Singapore. Also, it has provide us an overall picture of economy, how interest rate, currency, inflation and growth rate had affected our business operation abroad.

Most interesting is the marketing strategy and innovative technology, which had taught us on how to understand the micro and macro of market environment, and the aware of trend of destructive technology ahead our industry, as well as on how to protect the business by Intellectual Property Right.

Technology Entrepreneurship Program is not only provide a platform to learn about relevant business subjects which are very useful for the start-up business, SME and listed companies, but it give you a very good contacts and networking experience with educational professors. They are very helpful and friendly to guide us alone with the business concepts and opinions, which is very valuable to enrich our exposure. This is an experience where we are hardly to go through during our normal work routine.

Every new modules taught in the class has made us to refresh our thinking on how to implement new ideas into the business, and to have a difference angle to view on our current business.

Especially in the preparation of business plan, we have learn to know the capability of resource is one of main key point to decide on the business direction of the company, where I recalled on how we have started up our business initially. Due to the organisation restructuring in the previous company, which has made me realises that the work team are one of most important stakeholder in business operation. I had decided to team up with a few partners to start up a new business, to utilize whatever we have gained in the past working experience and sharing our view in the business.

Even, I had practiced some basic business philosophy to run a subsidiary company in Kuala Lumpur successfully for couples of year ago, such as 1) to increase the sales; 2) cut down the inventory; and 3) monitor the collection tightly. But, there are wide scope of knowledge to be discover in this Technology Entrepreneurship Program, it provides excellent business tools to counter any scenario in business.

Lastly, I would like say never regret to attend this course, only regret when you still did not know that is a good entrepreneurship education program available and waiting for you.

Ready to go...

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Tan Hun Beng

by Tan Hun Beng

An Enriching Module + Marvelous Lecturer = ENT515 + Professor Pamela Lim

During my undergraduate days, all my professors came from pure academic backgrounds. I was then believed that excel in academics was utmost importance in one’s success. However, when I started to assist my current company’s business, I realized that this kind of mentality was totally wrong. Apart from being academically well, equip oneself with experience and skills are essential in the business world. As a chemist with only technical background, I am glad to have chosen TEN programme.

And among all the modules that I had gone through so far, ENT515, perhaps is one of the best module that I enjoyed most. My lecturer, Professor Pamela, is really awesome! She has a strong entrepreneurship mindset and skills that led her to be one of the most successful entrepreneurs. Other than being a successful entrepreneur, she balances her family life well. I really cannot imagine how a female entrepreneur who can be successful in her business and at the same time, manages her family well. Nevertheless, Professor Pamela has proven it. She truly earned my full admiration for her and it is indisputable that she was in the most appropriate position to teach us this module.

Throughout the class, she established positive classroom climate and maintained rapport with us. While covering topics such as takeover tactics and defense, M&A deal structuring process, LBO and valuation, strategic alliances alternative to M&A etc, she tried to address our needs and queries at the same time. Rather than just focusing on pre-defined curriculum, she imparted and shared with us her vast and valuable ‘business experiences’ that can never be found on the books. She also stimulated our thoughts on the basic requirements to publicly-listed the company in Singapore and analyze the regulatory requirements needed to register a company in different countries which is out of the curriculum. It is essential to my company's business as we are looking for expansion. She inspired us to be actively involved in the class participation and exchanged ideas. Moreover, she provided tips on how to prepare a good business plan and shared with us, based on her experience, the best time to meet venture capitalists in the real business world. She delivered accordingly to issues that are most important and best suited to our needs. Undoubtedly, she is a true practitioner and a role model for me to follow with.

During the breakup sessions, we formed groups and discuss questions on selected cases. We brainstormed, research and churn out our ideas. It would never be great to team up with my buddies cum classmates, Clarence, Christopher and Thomas. I really learned a lot throughout the process.

One particular case that I liked most was ‘Disney-Pixar partnership’. We have to prepare slides and present our views pertaining to the questions. After our presentation, we carried on with our ‘hot’ discussions. I not only enjoyed the fun involved but also the new insights that I had gained.

On the whole, Professor Pamela is a great and marvelous lecturer who has never failed to impart her ‘rich and precious’ knowledge, beyond the course content, to us throughout the four class sessions. I really appreciate what she has done.

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“ENT 515 ; Pamela Lim- The best learning experience ever outside my Industry “
First and foremost , I would like to appreciate the way Pamela handled a class full of experienced men from different fields of work and kept us attentive. Her narration and "experiences with truth" were the key to keep us alive in the week end classes.
Her Knowledge and confidence in her M&A subject comes from her rich personal experience of having handled the M&A herself in her long entrepreneurial journey.
Me being an entrepreneur myself, have great admiration for her entrepreneurial skills and achieving success in the men dominated domain. Her case studies and group discussions were very practical and related to today’s environment.
My entrepreneurial journey started in 1998 right through the Asian crisis and as the old saying goes, “built a cement plant during recession”, I started the company right through recession grinding through it with half stomach full! , this has helped us to stay lean and mean and take strides as the economy grew and Kupps & Sachs (my company) has expanded into the Middle east, Malaysia and India in the past decade.
Her course structure and practical case studies were complimenting my M&A ambitions . Besides I would admit that I got learn new jargons that I have never heard before, Viz; poison pill, shark repellent, green mail, golden parachute, burn rate e.t.c
Important statement of hers that has registered well in me is “ never raise funds when you are desperate”
Her Case study presentation on off shoring was another great experience and it was an eye opener for me as I got realize the advantages of “Holding Company” CONCEPT and am already mulling over the idea .
My organization Kupps & Sachs with regional presence and growing base in the Indian sub continent will definitely benefit from the TEN program. And am sure that the UNISIM management continues to modules like ENT 515 and Pamela to the benefit of other aspiring entrepreneurs for this is first of kind and the best of its tribe.
Kudos! Pamela , and we will look forward to your continued sharing of your Experiences in the M&A field and am sure that there will be several others like me and my class mates who could continue to benefit from the program.
The program has kept glued to the seats at SIM on week ends which would have otherwise been a lazing around weekends , The course is due to end shortly and it would leave us in void how to keep the weekends busy?!
The Day KUPPS & SACHS does a successful M&A , You , the TEN program, my class mates and UNISIM will be a part of my press release!!

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Christopher Soh

by Christopher Soh
(Singapore, Singapore & Singapore)

TEN: ENT 515 Journal by Christopher Soh
Personally, I have never been much of a studying person. Nonetheless, being brought up in a conforming society, I was never taught to argue as teachers, elders, etc. always know best.

It’s been over more than a decade since I have picked up any textbook (apart from my children’s primary school text, of course!) that required me to open it up and stare into it in the hope that I will be able to absorb whatever is printed on the pages.

Not that I am complaining (how non-typical of any Singaporean!)! In fact, I am totally grateful to my company and the relevant government agency that was so kindly as to sponsor me for this Technology Entrepreneurship Programme (to be known from here on as TEN).

Having only plied my trade in my company for only two years, I must have really did something right that would prompt the management to look into the upgrading of my knowledge and skills. Okay, so I wasn’t the only one that was selected for further development, but still it counted something to me.

I dived head-in without any apprehensions at the opportunity that I was made to believe that was given, but not taken, earlier in my life. I did not take into consideration about my family, the time I had to sacrifice, the pain and agony of going through assignments, projects, presentations, deadlines and of course, the dreaded exams.
Armed with only an advanced diploma in strategic management, I had to endure another three extra months of bridging modules even before I was allowed to start the ENT programme proper.

Fast forward thirteen months, here I am, still very much in it and to an extent, pleasantly surprised at what I have been able to achieve within this period.
Once again, I must reiterate that I am not the studying kind! So to have even gone through countless modules and exams, here I am still standing with an average of a B grade, I must admit that I do have some pride with what I have accomplished thus far (what mediocrity!).

Before elaborating more on ENT 515, I am staring at a timetable that would only have another three modules remaining to complete before (I sincerely hope) I graduate. This journey has been long and arduous for me but I think I can begin to see a faint ray of light at the end of this TEN tunnel. Although this light may be a major driving force to propel me towards and over the finish line, I will not forget (or at least try to remember as much as I can) what has been taught, discussed, deliberated, submitted and painfully written down after I have reached the end of this tunnel.

However theoretical (and forgettable!) some of the modules maybe, I am certain that I will have use for them at one time or another as I move along in life and work. Even so, I have already put some of the knowledge that has been taught into my place of work.

So much for the above. Moving right on to ENT515.

When we were told by the Dean that we will be having the privilege of a female lecturer (that would bring with her lots of experience and knowledge) taking us for this module, I warmly welcomed the idea within myself. Finally, someone to break the stranglehold of an all-male environment for the longest time in this TEN Programme. Nonetheless, as with all lecturers, they will certainly have to earn their respect, if they really want to impress me. Let’s just say that just because someone who is in the position of a lecturer, it doesn’t necessary convert them into an automatic shoo-in for any subject or topic. I would have contradicted myself if I was still a secondary or polytechnic student, but I think with my modest working history of nearly twenty years, I am certain for a fact that there are many ways of going around a problem (even though it may not go down well with others).

And this was exactly what ENT 515 was all about. When the reference of mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and/or strategic alliances was the topic that was being taught, my initial mind-set was as impenetrable as stone. My impression was that it was always a straight forward way taking over a company or competitor, no more, no less.

Not that I was disappointed to find out of the other many methods and ways of how such transactions can come about and its reason for them, I was definitely being sold over by them. Although much of this conversion can be attributed to Pamela’s knowledge and experience, it was more of her engagement with the class that brought more out of the class in being critical of what was taught.
It could also be due to the fact that there would not be an written exam at the of this module that could have spur the class to be more pro-active during our lessons, but I do willingly believe that, being working professionals, we all sincerely do have something to contribute regardless of each and everyone’s own beliefs.

I honestly believe that such programmes should be aimed at such results; by getting more class participation to engage each other and challenge each other’s ideas. Of course not to a point where accusations of who’s right or wrong must materialised but the contribution and exchange of thoughts are just as important.

As mentioned by Pamela, setting an exam paper is easy, but what does that do at the end of day? It only forces us to think within certain confines of what is taught. Whereas, if there is lively discussions and thought provoking proposals are shared among all rather than on a piece of paper that is only seen by the marker, this is where learning truly takes place.

However, knowing how schools make it difficult for such methods of teaching and learning to be officially implemented, I must applaud the efforts of Pamela to stand her ground and provide a truly conducive environment for learning.

I seriously envy those full time students that have the privilege of having Pamela as their lecturer. However, as always, one will never really know what is good until it’s over.

Well, lucky for me, I knew.

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