Never Shaking Hands on a Deal!
Andrew: [Music intro] [00:00:03 – 00:00:34]. CFO Intelligence. The first event of our new brand, CFO Intelligence – soon to be announced. And you will hear more about CFO Intelligence over the next, couple of months. I’ll be very happy to chat with each of you about it.
I think we know everyone here, and everyone knows me. I’m Andy Zezas. I’m your host today. We’re joined today by Matthew Ellis, CFO of Verizon, and Christopher Bartlett, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and head of Verizon Ventures.
Now today’s event is the first in CFO Intelligence’s future planning schedule. Watch your inboxes, and there’ll be some details sent to you about that.
During the first part of today’s discussion, we will mute your microphones. And that’ll be for about 15 or 20 minutes. You can send questions through the chat room during Matt and Chris’ discussion or you can wait until after their discussion, and we’ll open up everyone’s microphones, and you can ask questions directly.
Either way is okay. If you want to shoot one a question or two during the conversation, go right ahead via chat. And then, as I said, we’ll open it up afterward. And we encourage dialog, and it will be wonderful for you to ask as many questions as you like.
Today’s discussion will be rather short. Matt and Chris have a very dynamic topic. It’ll be about 15 or 20 minutes, and then there’ll be a Q&A. So, we will optimize your time.
In 2020, the global business world was forced to figure out how to do everything virtually. We all know that. Never in the history of business had that been done before. No one knew what the challenges would be. No one knew what the opportunities were that lied ahead. And, that was especially true in M&A, traditionally an eyeball-to-eyeball process involving many people and many companies drawn together to close particular deals.
Now, Verizon’s been on the forefront of many things, including M&A. And, today, Matt and Chris will share with you their experiences in completing more than one multiple billion-dollar deal during the pandemic, in a discussion entitled, “Never Shaking Hands on a Deal – Unique Challenges and Productivity in Completing Large M&A Transactions in a Virtual-Only Environment.” Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Matthew Ellis and Christopher Bartlett, my friends from Verizon.
Matthew: Thanks, Andy. And, I should start-off by saying just like you say your friends call you Andy, not Andrew, as you know, my friends call me Matt. And, I would encourage everyone on this call to do so when we get to Q&A.
Anyway, Andy and I spoke about this topic and we thought it might be an interesting conversation. Hopefully, you will find it so as we go forward. I’m going to do the initial slide here. And then, Chris will get into more detail.
But just to give you a sense…the last 13, 14 months for us from an M&A standpoint have been busy. You know, we have done the transactions you see listed here in addition to, as you can imagine, looking at things that didn’t end up going anywhere.
If you told us this at the start of the pandemic when we all got sent home without much planning, that we would do this level of activity, I’m not sure we would’ve agreed with that upfront.
And I think it’s – it’s something that all of us are thinking about, not just as it relates to M&A but – but a lot of our processes, which is, you know, things that, we’ve been doing a certain way for many, many years and not really challenged why we did it that way and using COVID as an opportunity to kind of challenge those things in a way that we haven’t previously.
So, you see here the deals we did. right out of the gate. We had a deal that was underway called BlueJeans, a video conference tool that we just plugged-in and is certainly far better than the platform we’re using today, but that’s okay. But, that deal was underway [before the pandemic].
And, we hadn’t actually agreed to do the deals. The getting to know them part was underway. And so, we actually took the decision to close that bid, to sign that deal and close it, very early in the pandemic.
And, the hard part about that was…you can see…we announced in April of last year. Obviously, today, we feel like we have a good sense of what’s going on. But I’m sure if all of us cast our minds back to April of last year…that first 30 days of work from home. And, you asked, what the heck’s going on?
That was a big challenge for us around…do we know enough around how the environment is playing out here that we feel good about making an investment? And, we chose to go forward with that.
Another one about which we certainly had conversations going on for quite a while, but took until September of last year to sign, and it’s still subject to regulatory approval, is our purchase of TracFone, which is actually, the largest wholesale wireless provider in the US.
They buy out network access from us and other carriers. But, like the Straight Talk brand in Walmart, TracFone is a property that folks may recognize. So, that’s an important part of our strategy…having a bigger play in the prepaid and value segment [market].
We continue to build out some of our networks. Something that’s not widely known, especially in some rural parts of the country, our network is provided through partnerships with small, companies through a program we call LTE in Rural America.
Bluegrass Cellular was one of those such companies. You can imagine from the name they are based in Kentucky and this was an opportunity to buy them out and kind of bring those network assets more holistically into the way we manage our network.
And then a – a much smaller deal with a company called Incubed IT earlier this year, and this is an autonomous robotic software. It’s an area that we’re doing some work in. We consider it a future growth area, but much more early-stage business.
And then a couple of divestures – a lot of people obviously have heard of Huffington Post or Huff Post as they rebranded. We sold that off late last year. And then just last month, in the past four, five years, we bought AOL, and then we bought Yahoo. The team’s done a great job with combining those assets into a company that can compete in that space.
But, on further review, we’re not sure that it’s a strategy fit with where the rest of the business is going. And we had the opportunity to – because of the work the team has done in improving the quality of the asset, to look at a way of being able to sell it. And, for other folks, it’s going to be a better fit with their portfolio than ours and really make it a priority more so than we would.
So, that was announced last month. And, again, just like TracFone’s subject to regulatory approval, we expect both deals to close in the second half of this year. But that’s about a $5 billion transaction.
So, if you’d said at the start of the pandemic we’d still be largely working from home and so on and we’d have gotten this level of work done, I’m not sure we would’ve believed it. And this is probably an above average 13 to 14 months’ worth of activity for us over the last 10 years or so.
So, the takeaway is not only did we get some deals done, but we didn’t slow down at all, as we continued to look at the M&A spaces, and the role it plays in executing our overall strategy.
So, that’s kind of the overlay of what, I’m going to say Chris and his team did. So, I will let Chris get into a little more detail on exactly how we went about doing this and what was different.
And Chris has got two-plus decades of experience in the M&A space, first on the banking side and now in the last two to three years at Verizon. But, certainly a massive change in how these things got done. So, Chris, over to you.
Christopher: Thanks, Matt. Good to be with you all today. Matt, my wife will be very happy that you described the last year as an above-average level of activity, given my calendar for the last year. So, thank you.
I’m just going to go through two pages of thoughts. And then, I’m very interested to get feedback from you all on your experiences over the last 13 months with doing M&A, as well.
I’m going to, with just some observations about what we found, go through these transactions largely remotely during a pandemic and then move into a couple of thoughts on what I think may change once we get back to normal and what might not change, relative to pre-pandemic M&A execution. And then we can have a more open discussion with some feedback and reactions.
So, at a high level, when we started all this in April of 2020, I have to admit, I was very concerned about our ability to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s appropriately for complex acquisitions.
And, it actually turned out to be not quite as difficult or cumbersome as we expected. And I think in many respects that’s consistent with our overall reaction from working remotely on things other than M&A, that it wasn’t quite as clunky in many respects as it might’ve been expected to be. And I think that was certainly the case for much of the M&A we did.
We were able to leverage a lot of new tools like Zoom and BlueJeans in more sophisticated ways of interacting remotely that came about early-on in the pandemic that helped us establish a little more of a personal relationship with people that we hadn’t met before and certainly efficiently exchange information.
For those of you who work for big corporations or medium-sized corporations, you’re probably familiar with the nature of internal consensus building as it relates to doing an acquisition. My second point here is really you can’t bump into somebody in the hall and look them in the eye, even if they’re a close coworker, and talk to them and get their perspectives on an acquisition.
You kind of have to get on their calendar and make sure people are focused. And that just takes longer having people separated by distance. So a lot of the internal consensus building initially around potential acquisitions definitely took longer.
As Matt mentioned, in a couple of these instances, we did know the principals prior to entering into negotiations. I think that made it much, much easier…probably not a surprise at all to any of you to hear that if you sat in a room with somebody and looked them in the eye, it’s a little bit easier to establish trust when you’re negotiating.
We had one instance of a transaction that we ultimately did not do over the summer of 2020, where we actually did make the decision to get on an airplane and fully mask up and social distance and do an introductory meeting that was largely outdoors in California.
We did that because we felt that taking a little bit of risk traveling during the summer was worth getting to know these folks in-person versus over videoconference. And, even though we didn’t do the deal, I think it was effective.
Some parts of diligence were not more efficient remotely as you might imagine. Things relating to testing and tech, doing product demos with technology experts was very clunky and had to be done repeatedly and took longer, doing things like site visits, obviously.
One thing I do want to point out is given the remote workforce, anything involving cybersecurity and actual physical security had a much higher level of attention to it than it otherwise might have. I mean everything from endpoint security for people’s laptops and phones that were being used at home and not in a corporate environment to…we actually looked at things like wiring instructions at the end very carefully, given everybody was at home and not at a law firm, for example.
And then certainly on the same page, the lack of in-person dynamic in addition to not knowing people up front, as many of you have been through, you know important transactions, you know sometimes at the end you just need to camp out at a law firm with stale pizza and day-old coffee to get a transaction done.
And when you can’t do that, the late stages of these negotiations were a little bit more difficult, and candidly, got a little bit more emotional, because it is easier to loose your cool on the phone than it is if you’re sitting across from someone 12 hours before you sign. So, that was certainly more difficult.
Planning for integration and what we’re going to do post-closing, I think is probably…was the toughest part for us for a lot of the reasons I’ve talked about that you can’t really do site visits and have conversations with people about physical space.
And, even things as basic as welcoming someone to Verizon, you kind of got to do it remotely. And that continues to be a challenge for us. And I think we’ve had some bumps with some of the integration efforts that if we could’ve been there in-person, it would’ve gone much more smoothly.
Then, the last thing is junior people – I think junior M&A professionals can’t be in a room with you sitting on conference calls or in meetings with you watching senior people interact, and that’s really how we all learn and how we all got trained.
I worry that if we stay too remote too long, we’ll have people in their 20s and 30s that are growing up in the finance area and the M&A area just not developing the type of pattern recognition, deal judgment that they otherwise might.
I’m going to save the last point to the next page. But those are just some big picture observations we’ve had over the course of doing these deals. Again, some of that probably rings true to you all, as you’ve done transactions, as well.
And then quickly just to close on kind of what we expect going forward based on all of this…despite some of the bumpiness that we’ve had in certain areas, I do think the vast majority of due diligence will be done remotely or more of it will be done remotely as time passes, especially for very specific subject matter areas like tax, for example.
And I’m sure many of you have done acquisitions or have been part of assets that have been sold where you’ve sat in rooms of 35 people going through working sessions where your point is at three hours after it starts, and then you have to sit there for another two hours.
So, those kinds of in-person working sessions that people had a bias to do in many respects may go away, and the in-person time might be more senior, and more focused and more strategic.
Second point, clearly, I think all these digital tools that we’re using now and that we’ve talked about will make a lot of this more efficient. I mean we’re starting to experiment with things like using virtual reality and augmented reality platforms that we’ve invested in to help us do site visits, for example, and help us do technical product demos in maybe more immersive ways. I think it’s very early days on that.
And we may decide that at the end of the day, we kind of want to be in the room and touch and feel the stuff. But, that’s stuff we’re kind of thinking about.
I mentioned cybersecurity and remote workforce already. In terms of what won’t change, I think, ultimately looking people in the eye and not through a screen is going to be important. Probably not breaking news there, and especially if you do not have a previous professional or commercial relationship with a principal of someone you’re trying to acquire.
We found, as I’m sure many of you have, whether it’s an M&A deal or anything else, if you already know the people on the other end, all this pandemic interaction has not been all that challenging.
But, the best acquisitions are oftentimes the ones where you’re not participating in an auction, and you’re being proactive and digging something up in a proprietary way. And to do that, you have to get on an airplane and sit in front of somebody. It’s harder to do with a random email and a video conference to get something kicked-off.
So, I think especially for transactions that aren’t formal processes, being in the room will be tough. I talked about being in the room at the end, in the final stages, and also post-close integration, I think, being in person…those are the areas where I think it’ll be important to be in the room. And I mentioned the physical space for junior teams.
The last thing I want to mention is, as Matt mentioned, a couple of the divestures, we’ve done. This isn’t on the page, but I think it’s kind of interesting and important. For those of you who have ever, run an auction or managed an auction for an asset, I think when you have lots of in-person meetings between potential buyers and an asset that you’re selling, in many respects, the lunch hour or the break often results in freelancing. And, buyers can get a sense of who’s in the auction and – and who’s not.
And I would say it was definitely easier to do tactical things that gave the appearance of broader participation if everybody was remote, because you eliminated that sort of freelancing that can go on in M&A transactions between buyer and seller in ways that often aren’t helpful. So, maybe we’ll see formal auctions that are run for assets become more remote in the earlier stages to eliminate leaks or freelancing.
So, that’s all I had. I know that was a mouthful, and I threw a lot at you. But I’m curious to get some feedback and answer any questions anybody has about your experiences.
Andrew: First of all, Matt and Chris, thank you. Short, sweet, to the point, perfect, exactly what our guests want to hear. Great content, great insight. Very, very much appreciated. We’re going to open up the microphone to questions. But, I actually have a question for you, Chris, based on your comments. It sounds to me like you’re advocating – and it certainly makes sense to me…that you’re advocating that in some cases going forward, a combination of virtual and in-person meetings on a deal make a lot of sense. Is that an accurate assessment?
Christopher: Absolutely. I think it will enable, what I would call, commercial diligence underbrush to get done more quickly, without getting people on airplanes or blowing up a whole day. I think the important stuff will have to be done in-person, probably not controversial. But we feel very comfortable with a lot of our diligence streams being done remotely now, when they weren’t before. So, I agree.
Andrew: Oh, if you look behind me at my wall, I’ve got a print called “The Closing” and – with a whole bunch of people in the room. And it’s that traditional everybody around the conference room. And, it sounds like we’ll be getting back into that conference room. But, it certainly does make sense from an efficiency perspective that a lot of the background and the due diligence can be done virtually.
I hadn’t thought about the concept of freelancing and avoiding that. I thought that was a very astute observation on your part. In any deal when you’ve got so many moving parts, it’s a good idea to keep some people separate.
Christopher: You can never control what goes on at the watercooler while you’re taking a break. And, you can avoid all that if you’re remote.
Andrew: And, you made another comment. I want to make…when you go into a particular town where you’re closing a deal, do you search out the places that have stale pizza and day-old coffee or is that…
Christopher: Well, I think everybody’s probably been there. And, we talked in all seriousness on a couple of these transactions where if you haven’t slept and you’re eating cold pizza and stale coffee, you have incentive to get things done. If you’re sitting in your house in sweatpants, scheduling these meetings in the final throws of a transaction, it’s easier to take unhelpful positions. I think it’s easier to get emotional, versus be productive at the end, which is when something is most likely to leak or go off the rails.
Andrew: Sure. Well, I’d like to open it up to our guests to see if there are any questions they’d like to pose to, Matt or Chris.
Tim: Andy, I’ll start out. So, my name’s Tim, um, McKean. And I’m the CFO for Morton Salt. And, we actually went through a transaction during the pandemic. So, we were sold in an auction process. And we kicked off this process two weeks before everything got locked down. So, we went through the entire process all the way up to closing through the pandemic.
And I agree with a lot of what you said. And, one thing I also wanted to add from my perspective on the sell side – and I hadn’t been through this before, so a lot of it was new for me – but, a lot of the preparation for the business plan, the quality of earnings that was a huge body of work for a lot of people on my team and there was a couple people on my team…they thought we actually did that quicker and were more efficient, because we were working remotely versus having to commute everyday to the office, getting distracted in the office, etcetera.
So, when, like you at first, I thought this would be very difficult. But, we went through the whole process, and neither side met each other. We ended up being purchased by a competitor. So, then, even after the sale or agreement was announced, we still couldn’t really speak with each other very openly. But, yeah, it worked very well.
And, I’d say also, one of the complications – and, we were the sell side, obviously, not the buyer – but, they had a number of plants in mind, and they were not able to visit any of them because of restrictions and so on. So, our operations people created drone videos, that the finalists…because it was down to six finalists…so that they could all watch these videos and then have virtual meetings with our plant management to understand our plants and minds.
Andrew: Wow! And, did you find that the process, Tim, went any quicker or took longer because of it being virtual?
Tim: Yeah. So, prior is hard for me to judge. I’m not the expert that Chris is. So, I haven’t had the experience. But from what our company [experienced], also our parent company…this went according to the schedule that we set out, even, a few weeks prior to the pandemic. So, it didn’t really slow it down, let’s say.
Matthew: The one thing I would say on that question from our experience is there were parts of it that probably went a little faster…some parts that are due diligence, because people focused on what they really needed rather than some of the nice to haves in that part of the process.
The one area where I do think it slowed down, and Chris touched on this, is just that when you have to get through the crunchy issues, and just sitting in a room together and hammering things out…I think on a couple of the deals, it took a little longer to get to the finish line. It was probably because of those issues towards the end where you just didn’t get – yeah, okay, well, we’re not leaving the room until – until we got an agreement.
And, you can say you’re doing the same thing in this format as we’re all sitting here, but we’re probably all a little more distracted. As Chris said, we’re not eating stale pizza or stale coffee and, we may be distracted by all the things going on around us in a way that wouldn’t happen.
And then, there’s just that piece when you’re physically sitting in the room. You know this is the time you’re supposed to like either fish or cut bait. You know your people will ultimately take positions they need to take, whereas in this environment, they may hold on to certain positions that aren’t going to get into the finish line for a little longer. So, I think it depends which part of the process…some parts go quicker, other parts probably a little extended.
And so, if we can take the best of both worlds in post-pandemic, I think there’s opportunities.
Andrew: That’s great! That’s great! Andreas, you, said you had a question.
Andreas: Yeah, thanks, Matt and Chris, for sharing very, very interesting insight. Chris, you mentioned before confidentiality…so, I just wanted to ask in that direction whether you found it was more difficult to keep a lid on things and keep things from leaking and what you can do to mitigate that topic.
Christopher: Yes. It’s funny. Thanks for the question because I thought at the outset that there would likely be more leak risk because people were at home. And, you know, maybe their family or – God only knows where people are logging in to do conference calls and meeting.
But, we found in reality, every instance that Matt highlighted, including some transactions that involved media companies where you often see leaks…we actually had fewer leaks.
And, one of our bankers actually mentioned something interesting. As many of you probably know, a lot of the investment banks, in addition to just having people who cover you as a client, they have a group of people who are responsible for covering private equity firms. And, oftentimes, those people sit on exactly the same floor as your industry bankers, as many of you probably know. And, oftentimes, that kind of freelancing leads to leaks.
As different buyers think about using banks to put their financing together, that can lead to chat around trading floors. And I think oftentimes that leads to leaks. And we had none of that go on in many of these transactions, because many of the bankers weren’t altogether. I think that’s where the sewing circle can get out of control occasionally, and lead to leaks. I say that as a former banker.
So, we were pleasantly surprised that like I mentioned, not having as much opportunity for freelancing with buyers, sellers, advisors…be they bankers or lawyers or consultants…really did help us, I think, keep things quiet. Again, much to our surprise, but it seemed when people are by themselves, things are less likely to lead to chatter.
Andreas: I mean, is that something you think can carry over now in a new normal, or with people migrating back to their offices will that be difficult?
Christopher: I think it will be harder, because you’ll have the people that are usually the source of leaks are oftentimes bankers and lawyers. And, those people are the most likely to be back in the office together five days a week.
But, I would say doing a lot of our management meetings with buyers, whether we’re buying or selling remotely, I think really helped a lot just not being in a room. And you guys have probably been part of the Morton Salt transaction that you just mentioned.
I mean, typically, when you’re meeting with multiple buyers, oftentimes you have bankers in the room just because bankers want to be in the room. So, you may have, five of you and five of the counterparty and 12 investment bankers. When we did this remotely, I think it was a little easier to have maybe one or no chaperons on a lot of these calls. Again, I think it made it easier. So, I guess my answer is [that] it’s probably going to be harder to keep a lid on things with people back in the office. But, I was pleasantly surprised at how little leak risk we had when we were all remote.
Andrew: Andreas, thank you. Gary Piscatelli, I understand you have a question, as well.
Gary: Yeah, I do. Chris and Matt, first of all, thanks very much for doing this. A question I have is on the HSR filing process. And, I know you guys are still waiting for regulatory clearance on a couple deals. But, it looks like all but one probably required some type of clearance.
And, what are you guys finding the temperature is? I don’t know if you guys end up getting assigned to the Department of Justice or the FTC, or it could go either way. But, what have you found in the environment? And, are there any changes in terms of the regulatory process because of COVID?
Christopher: Matt, feel free to weigh-in if you’d like. I mean my perspective…
Matthew: Go ahead.
Christopher: You’re correct in that only one of those transactions fell below the, HSR threshold. But overall, I think we’ve been – and it’s the DOJ for us, not the FTC. I would say Matt, unless you disagree, that they have been fairly receptive.
And in many cases, we’ve gotten approvals, even internationally, for jurisdictions where the pandemic has been more severe, kind of as quickly or more quickly than we otherwise might have. And I don’t think all the preparation that goes into an HSR filing, I don’t get the sense that that has been any more of an issue for us or the back and forth with the regulators. Matt, you may have a better view of that.
Matthew: I do. As Chris said, DOJ is primary. And then, we also have the FCC, Federal Communications Commission. And then, as a regulated entity, we often have to get approval for things like the, TracFone transaction from the states and the public utility commissions. Any of you who are also in regulated industries know how much fun it is having to go through multiple bodies.
I would say any of the challenges that we’ve had with those processes have been because of the ongoing political narrative around opposition to mergers and so on, as opposed to administrative issues caused by COVID and government officials not being in the office.
I actually think the regulatory process has gone pretty smoothly given that the regulators are working from home or whatever. So, it’s actually been pleasantly surprising that that’s not been as much of a hurdle as we thought it might be in terms of elongating the process.
Gary: Thanks. And one followup question if you have any advise. I know a couple of the deals that were in the $400 million range are probably smaller deals for you guys. And, you know, thinking the sellers may not have the experience that you have on deals. How did you help them with the process? Any advice?
Matthew: Yeah, it’s a great question, Chris. I think BlueJeans is probably a great example of one of those, right?
Christopher: Yeah, it’s funny. I was just looking at the page that you had identified…both of those $450, $400 million deals I would say were with quite unsophisticated sellers, either local co-ops in Kentucky or, frankly, entrepreneurs who had never really sold a company before. But, both of them had good financial advisors, which helped who we knew we had relationships with. That was certainly helpful.
I think the parts that were definitely the toughest were where all of, what I would put in the category of kind of HR matters, Gary. So, retention and integration, and titling, and people, and how you’re going to plug into a big organization.
I think the ongoing just commercial diligence and price negotiation just required a little bit more TLC from people like me and legal counterparts, a little bit more handholding. But it was, I would say, not that much different than it probably otherwise would’ve been.
But, when you can’t talk to people about an employment agreement or a holdback of the purchase price that’s going to impact somebody’s ability to buy a second home or something, if they’ve never sold a company before, those were really delicate conversations. And, I did a lot of them sitting in this room with this background on this screen.
And, I got really nervous for them, because I think it was touchy and, as Matt said, kind of crunchy conversations. That was very tough, and it probably delayed a couple of those transactions by a couple weeks because we just couldn’t sit in a room and put our arms around people and say it’s all going to be okay. So, I’d say a lot of the HR stuff was very challenging.
Gary: Well, thanks, guys, appreciate it.
Andrew: Well, we’re coming down the home stretch. Do we have any other questions for Chris and Matt or any observations anybody would like to share?
Ulrich: So, first of all, thank you for a super nice summary.
Andrew: Yup. Please, Ulrich, go right ahead.
Ulrich: On sort of streamlining the process makes a ton of sense and then the issues. I’m picking up on the last point you made. Sort of, do you see the process change from your end? Or, would you just want to go back to the boardrooms as fast as…or conference rooms…as fast as possible for that closing?
Or, do you see other kind of things that you want to change, because we’ve seen a little bit more in that because if you haven’t built that relationship, especially if it’s partners that you haven’t worked with significantly, right? It’s a little more difficult on exactly that part of the process. So, anything that you have considered that you would want to do differently in this new world, where it will be some sort of a hybrid, which makes a ton of sense by the way, to plan for it to be a hybrid remote and in-person?
Christopher: I guess maybe I’ll try not to be repetitive here. But I think if the pandemic ended tomorrow and we went all back to normal, I think we would retain somewhere between 60 percent and 70 percent of our approach during the pandemic, especially as Tim said, the upfront preparation part and just getting organized, I think, was far more efficient.
We also did a quality of earnings analysis and prepared carve-out financials for a couple of these assets. I totally agree that that was better, not doing unnecessary in-person meetings for that and staying remote and avoiding travel.
So, I think of two-thirds of the stuff that will stay the same. I think a lot of that will be front-end loaded prep, before you go out and then on the initial stages of due diligence.
I think the 30 percent that won’t change, as you suggested, will be at the end because the two places where the biggest bumps were in the final negotiations and in planning for integration, and welcoming and either separating or plugging in. And I think I would love to get that more back to the personal element.
And also, there’s many companies out there that someone like me should have met over the last couple of years if we think we want to buy them in the future. And, I’m hoping to rack up a lot more frequent flyer miles when this passes because just being out there developing relationships has been extremely difficult, for I’m sure, everyone on the call for M&A and other. Hopefully, that’s good context.
Matthew: Yeah, Chris was just negotiating for his travel budget there. [Laughter]. But no, I feel like I agree with the integration piece. Some of the nuts and bolts-type integration stuff, again, not necessarily harder.
But I think the people related to the softer side of integration and making sure that people who are coming on and joining the team can participate in introductory calls like this…it’s better than not seeing people. But, there’s certain conversations that are just better to be standing in a room with a group of people and saying: Welcome to the Verizon team.” That piece will come back pretty quickly, I would think.
Andrew: Gary, I see your hand is up again. Did you have another question for us? Or is that from before?
Gary: I think that’s from before. I don’t actually see my hand up. But, uh, sorry about that.
Andrew: Okay. Great! Well, any other questions from our guests before we, say good-bye? Wonderful! Ladies and gentlemen, thanks for joining us. I hope you found this to be a productive use of your time. I’d like to thank my good friend Matt Ellis, and my new friend, Chris Bartlett, for being open and transparent and sharing some really interesting stuff. More power to you guys!
I know you can hear me now. [Chuckles]. And, I will remind you that I am a Verizon customer and will be for a very long time.
Matthew: Thank you.
Andrew: It’s been a pleasure, everybody. Thank you so much. The summer’s coming. Whether you’re wearing a mask or taking it off, I hope you and your families remain healthy. I hope your companies do exceptionally well for 2021. I hope you have great summers. We’ll look forward to seeing you again. Watch your inbox for news from CFO Intelligence. And, stay well, and God bless.
Tim: Thank you.
Christopher: Thanks to everyone.
Matthew: Thank you, everyone.
[End of Audio]
Duration: 42 minutes