This month has seen another increase on BizExchange in the number of potential buyers looking to invest in private businesses. While the majority of searches do not specify a preference between businesses offering equity and those looking for a full sale, the number of people looking specifically for equity is substantially larger than the number looking specifically for a full sale.
The reasons behind this trend will undoubtedly vary between individuals, however there has been some suggestions that DIY Super funds are now looking at the excellent returns offered by privately owned businesses and are contemplating diversifying their portfolios. At the same time there is anecdotal evidence that the next generation of buyers is more attracted to shared ownership than going it alone. Some of the appeal is the ability to reduce risk by buying into a larger, more established business than they could otherwise afford. At the same time some see that shared ownership may facilitate a better life-balance. At the other end of the scale there appears to be a continued escalation of interest from private equity firms which is good news for anyone with a business for sale.
With the majority of businesses still being offered for sale in their entirety, there is a real possibility for a mismatch in the market between what is on offer and what is being sought. The level of buyer interest is still highest in retail, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney, and this is reasonably in line with the number businesses for sale in these areas. Conversely there is an apparent shortage of buyer interest in construction, and a surplus of buyer interest in personal services.
Another interesting result from analysing the search data relates to franchises. While there is clearly demand for franchises in retail, hospitality and personal services, in some other industries like construction, wholesale and business services there were far more potential buyers of non-franchise compared to franchise businesses. Interestingly, given the very different nature of ownership that franchising provides, most buyers did not specify a preference.