- Background: FlaglerCE Holdings, LLC (“Flagler”), founded in 2008 and based in Tampa, FL, engages in the sale, rental, and servicing of heavy construction equipment. Flagler has the exclusive rights to distribute Volvo Construction Equipment in the state of Florida. Flagler operates six main branches across Florida.
- Cassel Salpeter:
- Served as financial advisor to the Company
- Ran a competitive bidding process amongst a select group of potential buyers, maximizing proceeds for Flagler’s stakeholders
- Provided assistance throughout all phases of the sale process
- Distressed operations with short timeline to close the deal
- Multi-constituent transaction that required the successful funding of a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC)
- Outcome: On February 14, 2020, Alta Equipment Company acquired Flagler.
- Alta Equipment Group Inc. owns and operates integrated equipment dealership platforms in the U.S. Alta Equipment Company merged with B. Riley Principal Merger Corp., a SPAC, and changed its name to Alta Equipment Group Inc.
- Background:Westchester General Hospital, Inc. (“Westchester”), founded in 1967 and based in Miami, FL, is a 125-bed, family-owned acute care hospital providing quality, patient-centered care. Westchester also helped develop a graduate medical education program that has trained hundreds of physicians who serve across the nation.
- Cassel Salpeter:
- Served as financial advisor to the Company
- Conducted a robust sales process, identifying and contacting over 100 strategic and financial parties
- Successfully identified an international buyer that was looking to expand their footprint in Florida
- Distressed operations with negative cash flow
- Ensuring a smooth transaction while dealing with the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic
- Navigating the ever-changing Paycheck Protection Program and CARES Act guidelines relating to mergers and acquisitions
- Outcome: In October 2020, Westchester was acquired by Sanitas USA, Inc. a subsidiary of Keralty SAS, an international health enterprise leader in patient-centered care and health outcomes.
- Background: Moviefone, a subsidiary of Helios and Matheson Analytics, Inc., is an entertainment information and marketing service that delivers movie showtimes, trailers, TV schedules, streaming information, cast and crew interviews, and editorial coverage.
- Cassel Salpeter:
- Served as financial advisor to the Company
- Conducted a robust sales process, identifying and contacting a broad set of strategic and financial parties
- Provided assistance throughout all phases of the Chapter 7 Section 363 sales process, due diligence, and auctions
- Moviefone was losing value over time due to limited attention and resources; the assets needed to be sold in a short time frame in order to preserve value
- Limited information and resources available at the Company
- Maximizing the value of the estate during a global pandemic
- Outcome: On March 19, 2020, the court approved the sale of the Moviefone assets to Born In Cleveland, LLC. Additional assets were also sold as part of the bankruptcy sales process.
It’s going to be a long winter. Even with a successful vaccine, normalcy may be as far away as next summer.
Middle market companies can learn from a recent CBS news story about the famous Strand bookstore in New York City. The struggling independent bookstore turned to social media to highlight its economic plight, successfully motivating a cavalry of support from loyal and new customers, and even some celebrities. With many businesses facing tough choices right now, finding new ways to tap into customer loyalty and secure new clients, while keeping people comfortable doing business with you, is critical to survival and success.
Here’s what to consider:
IS THERE A PATH FORWARD?
Most middle market businesses have already belt-tightened on their expenses, sought capital, and right-sized. Now, it’s once again time to project revenues, expenses, and capital needs for the next six to 12 months and pursue any existing government aid, or new aid that might become available. If you do not see a clear path forward, seek a buyer or a capital partner now. Do not wait. If selling is the only option, position your narrative to explain why your business is a good opportunity. An investment banker can help.
Middle market businesses that do have a path to survival should focus on actively engaging consumers, building client confidence, and tapping into brand loyalty.
Invest in resources that make consumers/clients feel safe doing business with you. Retail outlets and restaurants, for example, can put up plexiglass dividers, secure air purifiers, and/or Far-UVC lighting that may curtail the spread of COVID-19. They should also coach staff on promoting and maintaining social distancing, create or beef up delivery/pickup services, and of course, wear — and even provide — masks and other PPE to employees, guests and customers. Some businesses can set up tents and move merchandise into the open and would do well to invest in outdoor kiosks, awnings and umbrellas, as well as fans or heaters, and move business outside.
You can make other strategic moves, too. Review your product/services line and tailor them to pandemic needs. Seek accommodations with landlords who would rather have some rent than none at all. You can engage real estate consultants to assist in negotiations, while seeking concessions, and also consider collaborations or partnerships that might help.
Most important, do not underestimate the power of drawing on brand loyalty. Like The Strand, use social media and other channels, such as customer lists you may have built, to call for action and help, letting your customers know how much you need and appreciate them. Explain how buying local means revenues stay local, so getting goods and services from you means supporting their community. They will want you around when things get back to normal.
Many businesses secure a disproportionate amount of their business during the weeks before the holidays. Get ready now. Use messaging to let customers know about the range of extra measures taken to keep them safe. And with many retailers and online businesses already offering bargains, run your own deals now too.
This next COVID phase may be the most challenging yet for business owners. While many middle market companies have already implemented or exhausted traditional cost-cutting and capital-raising efforts, more can be done to keep loyal customers returning and maybe even gain some market share as we get to the other side of this crisis.
James S. Cassel is co-founder and chairman of Cassel Salpeter & Co., LLC, an investment- banking firm with headquarters in Miami that works with middle-market companies. email@example.com or via LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamesscassel.
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With 737 Max Cleared for Takeoff and Covid Vaccine on Horizon, Aviation Industry Slowly on the Verge of U-Shaped Recovery
On November 18th, U.S. regulators (FAA) ruled that the Boeing 737 Max can resume commercial flights with an extensive package of fixes, ending a damaging 20-month hiatus prompted by a pair of fatal crashes. The aircraft’s return will not end the controversy or provide a cash infusion for the company’s suffering bottom line, but it does appear to, in the words of Winston Churchill, at least be the end of the beginning. Following the FAA ruling, various global regulators are expected to follow suit in the coming months.
This is a major milestone for Boeing and an inflection point for the company, though the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the airline industry, pressuring airlines and lessors to cancel orders for the 737 Max and foiling Boeing’s plans to quickly reverse its losses. The Max’s comeback will be gradual, as it will not fly for some months. Airlines must first train pilots, inspect the jets emerging from long-term desert storage, and complete the FAA’s required repairs before placing the aircraft back into fleet service.
The FAA action is only the first step in certifying 59 airlines/carriers (32 countries) to operate the 387 grounded planes. The FAA orders cover only US domestic flights for the 737 Max jets operated by American, United, and Southwest Airlines; 72 in total. Of the U.S. operators, only American Airlines (AA) has put the Max jets back into its schedule, with flights beginning Dec. 29th on one route: Miami to New York. Flights to or within other countries will need the approval of those individual aviation authorities.
For context, 450 737 Max jets have been built, but not delivered, amounting to billions of dollars in inventory that Boeing hopes to be able to start turning into cash. Bloomberg News reports that nearly a quarter of those 450 Max jets in storage are “white tails,” or planes whose original buyers have backed out, leaving their tails unmarked by airline logos. In total, more than 1,000 Max jet orders have been canceled this year. Additionally, there are about 1,500 single-aisle passenger jets parked by airlines around the world, according to Ascend by Cirium, a research firm that tracks plane usage. That number does not include the grounded 737 Max jets, yet the plane represents more than 25% of the single-aisle planes worldwide since the pandemic broke out.
Boeing’s chief rival Airbus has not been immune to the fallout from the global pandemic, but the fact that its planes were not grounded made it comparatively harder for airlines to abandon their orders. In fact, Airbus has told its suppliers to be ready to ramp up production on its A320neo family of jets to 47-a-month by the second half of 2021, compared to 40 currently. Airbus had 11 new orders in October across its portfolio, compared to zero at Boeing. The narrow-body jet market is expected to recover faster from the pandemic because the planes are primarily used on shorter-haul flights. As of the end of Q3 2020, Airbus had a commanding 64% share of that market, according to Vertical Research Partners analyst Rob Stallard.
For Boeing, which faces at least $20 billion in Max-related costs, the crisis has become one of the worst in the company’s century-long history. Now, with the collapse in air travel, airlines that had been clamoring for the more efficient Boeing jets (15% more fuel efficient) suddenly are fighting for survival and looking to postpone deliveries. Boeing executives warned last month that the company will burn more cash than it generates until 2022, and that it will take at least a year beyond that to clear the mothballed Max aircraft out of its inventory. The bottom line is that the industry is slowly on the verge of a U-shaped recovery, which will be much needed for the airlines and its related ecosystem of suppliers, MRO (repair shops), distributors, and other players, in this critical sector of the US and global economy.
November 4, 2020
Cassel Salpeter & Co., an independent investment banking firm that provides advice to middle market and emerging growth companies in the U.S. and worldwide, announced it acted as exclusive financial advisor to Westchester General Hospital in connection with its sale to Sanitas USA, Inc. a subsidiary of Keralty SAS, an international health enterprise leader in patient-centered care and health outcomes in operation for over 50 years in seven countries.
Cassel Salpeter led the search for the buyer and worked to ensure the transaction was seamless and successful.
When Westchester General Hospital expressed interest in selling the hospital and the property it occupies, Cassel Salpeter utilized its extensive network in the healthcare industry to raise awareness of the purchase opportunity and find a suitable buyer for the hospital. Keralty, under the Sanitas Medical Centers’ name, soon emerged as the purchaser of the hospital, and both sides were able to successfully complete the transaction.
“We’re proud to have been able to work with Westchester General Hospital and the family that owned it to find an appropriate buyer for the hospital, one that shares the same commitment to serve the community and provide state-of-the-art, expert health care,” said James S. Cassel, Cassel Salpeter chairman and cofounder. “With its Sanitas Medical Centers, Keralty has built a dependable network of health centers, and this purchase will allow them to expand their network, services, and commitment to serving the community.”
The sale includes both the 78,000 square foot acute care hospital with 125 beds, inclusive of a 27 bed acute psychiatric unit, as well as the land surrounding it. Keralty intends to retain the approximate 570 staff currently employed at the hospital, and the hospital will continue to provide the community with emergency services, intensive care, and all other services it does presently.
The Cassel Salpeter team was led by Chairman James S. Cassel and Vice President Laura Salpeter, with the assistance of Associate Julian Astrove.
“We are thankful for the help of Cassel Salpeter in working with us to find a suitable buyer that would continue the hospital’s mission of providing invaluable services to our community which our family has done for over 50 years,” said Dr. Gregory Fox of
Westchester General Hospital. “James, Laura, Julian, and the rest of the team at Cassel Salpeter worked tirelessly to find viable opportunities for us and were crucial in throughout every stage of the deal.”
Cassel Salpeter also thanks Gary Davis and Sam Goodman of McDermott Will & Emory for serving as the legal advisor for Westchester General Hospital, as well as, Carol Barnhart and Anthony Fernandez of Greenberg Traurig for their role as legal advisor to Keralty.
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