Trends in business: #M&AToo?

By Kim Covert May 2, 20182 May 2018

Trends in business: #M&AToo?

 

A panel discussion on global trends in mergers and acquisitions on Tuesday landed on an increasingly familiar topic in a fairly unfamiliar place.

Panellists for the plenary session were Jeremy Fraiberg, National Co-Chair and Parter, M&A Practice, Osler, Andrea Wood, Senior Vice-President, Legal Services, Telus, and Anthony Pagano, Chief Counsel, Mergers and Acquisitions, Royal Bank of Canada.

After addressing the impact technology is having on in-house legal departments, panellists turned to risks faced by those acquiring tech start-ups – due diligence has to be done to ensure that the seller has clear ownership of the technology, for example. When what you’re buying is potential talent, however, the purchaser has to make sure the seller passes the #MeToo test – because what if people involved in the company have engaged in inappropriate conduct? That has become one of the risks that has to be managed, says Michael Fekete, National Innovation Leader, Co-Chair and Partner , Technology, with Osler, who chaired the panel.

Pagano, says background checks on key employees in potential acquisition deals are going to be more common because of #MeToo. “This isn’t common practice, but this is where we are headed.”

Other future trends in M&A identified by the panel include everyone becoming more advanced in the use of machine learning and machine learning tools. “We need to bring along and develop different sorts of skills than we as lawyers have been taught,” says Wood.

The group said project management skills will become more important. And as emerging technology allows us to do more things faster, we’ll have to be more aware of the way it can infringe on privacy and confidentiality considerations.

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