Virtual Data Rooms
We surveyed independent consultants from Umbrex and Veritux to determine which virtual vault and virtual data rooms they’re using for client work as well as to store confidential files for mergers and acquisitions (M&A).
Virtual Vault and Data Room Recommendations
These are the most common M&A deal team data room tools recommended by members of the community:
- Intralinks (7) — Top SaaS, great features like permissions and notifications, pricey
- Merrill Lynch (4) — Commonly used in M&A and banking, good value and good service
- Dealroom (3) — Good functionality, affordable pricing
- Sharepoint (2)
- Dropbox (2)
- Box (2)
- Firmex (2)
- ShareFile (2) — Practical, economic, does the job
- MS Teams (2) — Adds phone and video conferencing
Consultants like Dustin Fischer note that “Intralinks has good flexibility to set up different permissions and manage a number of bidders. The system is quite intuitive, but personal support is also readily available to help if needed. Michael Bendit noted that Intralinks “is one of the leading enterprise deal room SaaS products. Not sure if they are priced for smaller companies.”
However, we found it interesting that so many different virtual data room tools were being used. Here’s the full list that independent consultants shared with us, each receiving one mention. Many users choose more than one tool, based on the business need.
Additional Virtual Data Rooms Mentioned
Tips from Experienced Independent Consultants Regarding Using Data Room Tools for M&A
We also received tips from experienced M&A data vault users that may help independent consultants determine which VDR is best for their business needs as well as what business practices are best.
I recommend that the due diligence questions and answers be logged (cataloged) very carefully – include key words, topics, whatever is meaningful in a data field so that they can be searched before potentially answering the same question(s) twice. In my experience, questions are asked and they lead to more questions, then they ultimately lead back to the original questions. If the data team is large enough, nobody remembers that the question was answered already. When that happens, the second answer differs slightly from the first and it bogs down the process
In the Health Plan/Healthcare market, SharePoint (Microsoft) is prominent; however and depending on complexity of the engagement, a savvy Sharepoint Administrator should be engaged for complex projects so that “configuration” of the tool (preferably latest version) can be spot-on out of the box for the program/project, and future SharePoint support needs from the Administrator is an email/phone call away.
I was managing a transaction for a SaaS company being acquired by a major PE firm. We used Firmex quite effectively to manage all data transfers.
I find they (VDRs) are user-friendly, secure, provide good features to easily track shared files, assign various levels of user access based on file folder level or individual files. Depending on deal size/complexity and where you are in the stage of the process etc., sometimes using a tool like Dropbox etc. works just fine.
Maxine L. Matteo
We’ve used Intralinks for almost every m&a deal we’ve worked on. Every time I’ve used someone else, I haven’t been that happy. You can restrict access, printing or screen shots and have a register of who has been in what they have looked at and when. I have a lot of experience managing data rooms if you need any help.
1) Go with a top provider – eg, Merrill
2) Make information available progressively as negotiations progress, not all at once
3) Utilize tools to restrict the most sensitive information to “view only” — no printing or downloading. Remember, there is no requirement to put information in a data room, and sometimes the best way to share information is in-person
4) Review usage metrics daily to ensure other party(ies) are keeping their commitments, and real deal work is occurring. Look for signs of inappropriate user id/password sharing as well – eg, one user has connected from 10 different devices
5) Use digital rights management tools, so you know where your docs are and where they end up!
For [a] dataroom, [I’m] currently using combo of Box + DocSend links in a Table of Contents overview doc as a lightweight platform for analytics where we need it
Thanks to Our Contributors
We wish to thank those who shared their recommendations, including Amit Patel, Patrick Chance, Abisoye Oladipo, Dustin Fischer, MichaelBendit, Enver Hally Surbhee Grover, Justin Leung, Susan Clapham, Bryan Frank, Romain Ichbiah, Eduardo Fichmann, Gobind Khalsa, Maarten Bosscher, Alice Kim, Alexander Petersen, Abisoye Oladipo, Anand Christopher, Michael Chow, David Gross, Maxine L. Matteo, Andy Hall, Jim Winett, Sarvin Patel, Matt Curran, Patrick Chance, Frank Lacey