I cleared my throat and told him what I really thought.
“Well… Tanner, I think the price you’ve offered is fair, but I do have some concerns about Anderson’s profit and loss statements for the last ten years. There were some discrepancies in the P&Ls that --”
Henry Costas cut me off. “Those P&L’s have been fully vetted by our in-house accountants. There’s no need for you to waste time there, Miss Carlson.”
That was news to me. Reviewing the annual P&L’s since the company opened in 1974 was one of the tasks I’d been assigned, and I told him so.
“That must have been assigned to the task list before the work was done in-house,” Costas said. He looked at Stan. “Isn’t that correct, Stan?”
Stan fidgeted in his seat for a moment. He didn’t have a clue if that was right or not. He hemmed and hawed for a moment, then did what he always did. He said what the customer wanted to hear.
“Yes, I’m sorry, Candice, Mr. Costas is correct. You must not have the most recent task order list. I’ll get that to you as soon as we land.”
The latest task order list? What the heck was he talking about? I had the only task order list that had been assigned; the same task order list as the rest of the team.
I had spent most of the weekend (when I wasn’t sobbing like a baby and stuffing ice cream into my face) studying four decades’ worth of Anderson P&L’s so I would have a jump on things in case I didn’t get booted from the team.
And unless the financials that I’d been sent were wrong, as well, then there were red flags that needed to be addressed.
Tanner seemed to study Costas and Henry for a moment before turning back to me. His forearm muscles flexed as he squeezed the rubber ball. He spoke to me with his eyes. His gaze told me we’d address the red flags on Anderson’s P&L later.
“Other than that, give me your thoughts on the acquisition.”
Before I could answer he swept a hand at the others, who were watching and listening while trying to pretend that they weren’t.
“Listen up, people, because I’m going to ask each of you the same question later.”
I cleared my throat and folded my hands on the table and leaned on my elbows. “I believe the acquisition is smart, given the share price you’re paying, which is $31 a share. That’s $2 over market, but anything up to $40 a share would be a bargain given the value of the contracts and assets that Anderson holds.”
“What about their infrastructure and expansion plans?” he asked. “According to your resume you are one of Goldman’s experts on digital networks and optical fiber.”
I tried to keep the smug look off my face. I wondered if anyone else on the team had even bothered to read my resume. “Their infrastructure is sound, but aging rapidly. They have contracts in place to install fiber optic networks for a number of small and medium municipalities, but the competition to move into major markets like New York, Chicago, and Atlanta, is fierce. Until those systems are in place, their customers are at the mercy of the older wired networks, which could be a concern down the road.”
He narrowed his eyes at me. They all did. He knew exactly what I was talking about.
He said, “And if their old customers are at the mercy of their old technology, those customers might be attracted to a different carrier with new technology like fiber optics that offers greater connectivity and faster speeds.”
“Exactly,” I said, nodding. “It’s not a tremendous concern now, but if companies like Charter and Spectrum install fiber optic networks faster than Anderson, well…”
“They could lure away Anderson’s customers, making the company less valuable than it is today.” He gave me a smile that was not filled with tricks or treats. It was one of admiration.
“Very impressive, Miss Carlson,” he said.
“Candice,” I shot back.
He swiveled his chair to face the others and bounced the rubber ball on the floor between his feet. “All right then. Let’s hear what the rest of you have to say.”
I ate the entire honey bun and drank the coffee as I listened to the older, wiser, more-expert members of the team say basically the same things I just did.
Occasionally, Tanner would glance over and smile, as if saying, “You nailed it, girl.”
I found that I couldn’t keep my eyes from drifting over his body as he conducted the meeting.
Such boyish charm in a such a seriously hot and seriously brilliant package.
Maybe Tanner Wright wasn’t such a douchebag after all.
By the time the corporate jet touched down in Tucson, I was certain of three things.