“Billionaires do have their own particular sets of problems, don’t they?” Henry said with a sigh.
He crossed his legs and brushed lint from his knee. Henry wasn’t a billionaire, but he’d gotten rich when Wright Enterprises went public five years ago. He could have easily spent twenty-five million dollars on a car, but he would never do so because he felt it was an overindulgence and a complete waste of money.
I remember him asking me once, “Why buy a fifty-thousand dollar Rolex when a fifty-dollar Timex tells the same time?”
My answer, of course, was, “Because a fifty-dollar Timex won’t get you laid!”
The truth was, I had more money than I could ever hope to spend. Wright Enterprises was now one of the largest conglomerates in the world, with business holdings in practically every country on the planet.
I had made billions of dollars and could buy anything and anyone I wanted. And at the moment, I wanted that fucking Ferrari GT!
“We need to talk about the Anderson acquisition,” Henry said as the humor melted from his face. That was Henry. Enough frivolity! Back to the salt mines!
He reached into the briefcase that was sitting next to his chair and brought out a thick folder detailing our impending acquisition of Anderson Telecommunications, a regional telc0 in Arizona that had fallen on hard times.
We were going to acquire Anderson for pennies on the dollar. We’d either fix it if we could or tear it apart if we couldn’t.
It would be our first foray into telecommunications, so Henry was edgy. And rightfully so. I paid him to worry about such things so I didn’t have to.
“Is there a problem with the acquisition?” I asked, watching him balance the folder on his knee. He set a pair of reading glasses on the tip of his nose and opened the folder. He removed the first page and looked down his nose at it.
“I’m looking to prevent problems,” he said, sliding the page across the desk at me. “As we discussed, since this is our first telecom acquisition and neither of us are experts in the industry, I thought it would be a good idea to get an expert set of eyes to look over Anderson’s financials and interview the management team before we signed the final deal.”
I kept a red rubber ball sitting on my desk. It was supposed to be a stress ball, you know, a rubber ball you squeeze whenever you’re feeling stressed. The truth was, I rarely felt stressed. But I had the attention span of a tsetse fly and if I wasn’t constantly doing something with my hands, I had a hard time paying attention.
I squeezed the ball in my left hand and picked up the sheet of paper in my right. It was a letter of engagement from Goldman & Stern, the company who would handle this part of the due diligence.
I held out the paper and summed up my take on it. “So, we’re going to pay Goldman & Stern ten million dollars to do the due diligence on Anderson? Tell me again why we can’t do all the due diligence in-house? Why isn’t our corporate legal department handling this?”
“We are doing the lion’s share of the due diligence in-house,” Henry said. “But as I said before, some details that are specific to the telecom industry are out of our wheelhouse. Paying G&S ten-million to uncover skeletons in closets and mistakes on balance sheets is money well spent.”
I wouldn’t hesitate to spend twenty-five million on a car, but hated wasting a dime when it came to my business. It was mostly a formality because the acquisition was pretty much a done deal, but Henry was a stickler for covering our asses and I was grateful for it.
I scanned through the project description and a list of the people who would be doing the work. I sailed the paper across the desk at him, then leaned back in my chair and tossed the ball into the air.
I said, “Fine, whatever you think is best. Do you know anyone on the team Goldman is sending over?”
Henry picked up the paper and set it on top of the folder. He peered down through the glasses at the list of names. He ran a finger down the list. “Yes, the senior people I’ve worked with before. Stan Robbins and Juliette Ruiz. Bob Gaines and Irving Hunt I know by reputation. I don’t now recognize this last name. She must be new. Candice Carlson.”
“I’ve never heard of Candice Carlson either,” I said. I caught the ball and tossed it into the air again. “Did they send her resume?”
Henry opened the folder and wet his finger to fan through the pages. “I have resumes on the key players. Let’s see… Candice Carlson. BA from Penn, MBA from Harvard. Graduated with honors last year.”
“Fresh meat,” I sighed.
Henry ignored me and kept reading. “She joined Goldman right out of Harvard, so she has to be top notch. She has been on several teams that have consulted for Goldman in the telecom field.”