Buying a Business in Australia – Market has Hot and Cold Spots

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The market for private businesses has shown some distinctly hot and cold spots over recent months. At the larger end, businesses with a turnover in excess of $20 million, interest from private equity firms is pushing prices higher. However in the middle market, businesses with a turnover of $5 million to $15 million, prices have eased as buyer sentiment has softened.

Some experts believe that this is due to people looking to reorganise their financial affairs to take advantage of the changes in superannuation legislation in the lead up to the July 2007 deadline. This is based on a number of business owners pushing ahead with sales at lower than expected prices in order to meet the deadline, while some potential buyers are not actively participating in the market at present as the wait for their financial affairs to be reorganised. This combination is putting downward pressure on prices.

There is another school of thought that points to Australia’s changing demographic and the fact as the baby boomers retire over 40% of Australian businesses will need to be sold over the next 10 years. They see the softening in the market as an early indication of things to come, when the number of sellers will outnumber the number of potential buyers.

With the BizExchange Index constantly monitoring the market, it is only a matter of time before we can say whether the current downward pressure on prices for business with turnover of less than $15 million will continue.

What is apparent is that if you are looking to buy or invest there are a growing number of Australian private businesses available for sale at remarkably good price earnings ratios.

For example, there are accounting practices in Tasmania (turnover 100K) and Victoria (Turnover 1.2 Million) for sale at price earnings ratios of less than two. There are also a significant number of small owner operator businesses and second-hand franchises selling for little more than their asset value. In fact right across the board it is extremely rare to for a private business to achieve double digit price earnings ratios.

If you would like to know more about Australian private business valuations, the latest BizExchange Index is now available to all BizExchange Subscribers – subscription is free.

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