Expanding your business internationally can be exciting and rewarding, whether you want to expand an existing venture or start a new project.

Of course, buying a business abroad comes with its own set of challenges and complexities. From due diligence to integration, there’s a lot to consider.

Here, we’ll guide you through the essential steps and considerations when buying a business abroad, from initial due diligence to post-acquisition integration.

Conduct thorough due diligence

Comprehensive due diligence is the number one most important thing you’ll do when buying a business abroad.

This involves an in-depth investigation into the target company’s financial, legal, and operational aspects to ensure you clearly understand what you’re acquiring and any potential risks or liabilities.

Due diligence processes vary widely depending on the transaction’s risk, its value, the type of business involved in its sector, and the country in question. It involves at least financial and legal due diligence.

Financial due diligence

Financial due diligence involves assessing statements, tax returns, working capital and other indicators of a business’s financial health. Key actions include:

  • Analysing financial statements, including balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements, to assess the company’s financial health and performance.
  • Reviewing tax returns and ensuring that all tax obligations have been met and there are no outstanding liabilities.
  • Examining accounts receivable and payable to identify any potential cash flow issues or bad debts.
  • Assessing the company’s working capital requirements and determining whether sufficient reserves support ongoing operations.
  • Investigating the company’s debt structure, including outstanding loans, lines of credit, and other financial obligations.

Legal due diligence

Legal due diligence assesses supplier and third-party relationships, intellectual property, contracts, etc. In short, this involves:

  • Reviewing all contracts and agreements, including leases, supplier, customer, and employment agreements, to identify potential risks or liabilities.
  • Investigating the company’s intellectual property rights, including trademarks, patents, and copyrights, to ensure that they are properly protected and there are no infringement issues.
  • Verifying that the company has all necessary licences and permits to operate legally in the target country.
  • Examining the company’s litigation history to identify any past, ongoing, or potential legal disputes that could impact the business.

Due diligence is diverse and complex, and in most cases, it’s highly recommended to seek professional assistance from accountants like Coveney Nicholls.

Understand the tax implications of buying a business abroad

Each country has its own unique legal and tax systems, which can impact your acquisition.

Working with local legal and tax experts is essential to understand the implications of buying a business in your target country. Some key considerations include:

  • Corporate structure and ownership requirements.
  • Foreign investment regulations.
  • Employment laws and labour contracts.
  • Tax treaties and double taxation avoidance agreements.
  • Value Added Tax (VAT) and other indirect taxes.
  • Repatriation of profits and dividends.

Assess the foreign market

Before committing to an acquisition, it’s crucial to thoroughly assess the foreign market in which the target business operates. This includes analysing factors such as:

  • Market size and growth potential.
  • Competition and market share.
  • Consumer preferences and behaviour.
  • Regulatory environment and industry-specific requirements.
  • Economic conditions and stability.
  • Cultural differences and business practices.

Consider financial management

Buying a business abroad involves various financial considerations that differ from domestic acquisitions. Some key aspects to keep in mind include:

  • Currency exchange rates and fluctuations.
  • International accounting standards and reporting requirements.
  • Cross-border payment methods and banking relationships.
  • Financing options and availability of local funding.
  • Insurance requirements and risk management strategies.

Working with an experienced international accountancy firm here can help you navigate these financial complexities and ensure a smooth transaction.

Plan for post-acquisition integration

Once you’ve successfully acquired the foreign business, the real work begins. Post-acquisition integration is critical to realising the full potential of your investment. Key considerations include:

  • Aligning corporate cultures and values.
  • Integrating financial systems and reporting processes.
  • Harmonising HR policies and employee benefits.
  • Optimising supply chain and logistics.
  • Leveraging synergies and best practices.

Summing up

Buying a business abroad can be complex and challenging, but careful planning and professional support can also be immensely rewarding.

With a systematic approach and expert advice, you can safely navigate this process and build a profitable venture.

At Coveney Nicholls, our team of chartered accountants has extensive experience in supporting businesses with international acquisitions. We offer a range of services to help our clients forge strong business foundations abroad.

If you’re considering buying a business abroad, don’t hesitate to contact our team at Coveney Nicholls.