Legal

austriafeb9

Three years ago I received a phone call from the owner of a leading Austrian retailing company. He was a client of mine.

“I’ve decided I’m not going to sell the company just yet,” he said. “I want to take the company from a €70million turnover business to €120million within the next few years. And I’m confident I can do it.”

Suddenly, the volume dial was turned down. The rest of the conversation became a blur. I couldn’t pay attention anymore. I was left flabbergasted. Utterly flabbergasted.

After I hung up the phone, I took a deep breath and put my face in my hands. All that time spent on this deal. For nothing.

I stood up and went for a long walk in order to digest what had just happened. It was that or downing a bottle of vodka. And I seldom drink so it would have probably killed me.

6 months earlier

One morning I received a call from Peter, a successful Austrian businessman I knew. The two of us had met the year before while I was conducting due diligence for a Family Office looking to invest into the company Peter served as CEO. Though the family I was advising didn’t end up investing, Peter and I hit it off and became friends.

“I’ve got a phenomenal investment opportunity and I think you can help,” said Peter.

“Let’s hear it.” I was always intrigued to hear about unique opportunities.

“I’m flying to London tonight. Let’s meet at Claridge’s Hotel tomorrow morning at 8 and discuss it over breakfast.”

“I’ve got a conference call at 8.”

“Is it critical?” Peter asked.

“Not really. But—”

“Cancel it.”

I took that to mean it was a hot deal. So I rescheduled the conference call. [READ MORE…]

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Say you’re looking to do business with another party and you’ve got sensitive information you’d like to protect and avoid spreading around. Then you could use a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).

In theory it should protect you.

Early on, because of my cautious nature, I jumped on every occasion to put an NDA in place. Looking back, I think to myself, man did I waste a great deal of time!

A short honeymoon

Initially, working on an NDA was exciting. What a powerful legal document, I remembering thinking over and over to myself the first few times I drafted one. You basically get a person or company to agree to keep its mouth shut in exchange for sharing with them sensitive information. It’s quite an empowering feeling. Especially if you, an individual, can get a major company to agree and sign a document guaranteeing their silence indefinitely or for a certain amount of time. Me vs. the massive corporation.

But that was early on. My relationship with NDAs has evolved since then. Now I need a damn good excuse to put one in place. [READ MORE…]

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