Corporate negotiations and boardroom standoffs are the stuff of movies and Broadway dramas. Soria Hay, a manager in Mettle’s corporate finance division, might not have featured in the fictional world of negotiation but in real life she has demonstrated an ability to negotiate her way through the muddiest of corporate waters. Proof of that track record is Mettle’s impressive hit rate. Whereas the norm in the M A environment is a hit rate of one in 10, of all the negotiations in which Mettle has been involved, its success rate of converting negotiations into deals has been well in excess of that. Hay accepts that negotiating skills are a critical part of the success formula. “But it is only part,” she points out. “Having HCI (Hosken Consolidated Investments) as a large shareholder in Mettle is a contributing factor, as is Mettle’s tight focus on selected sectors of the economy.” Mettle confines its M A activity to the sectors of the economy where the bulk of the deals are being done: financial services, media, telecommunications and information technology. Hay herself focuses on financial services. “By limiting the scope of our reach, we have developed an intimate knowledge of the fields in which we involve ourselves. We know what our clients want, and they know that we know. That’s why they come to us.” Accordingly, when Mettle proposes a transaction, it has already been thoroughly investigated and carefully thought through. “This means that before we take a deal to a client, we have convinced ourselves that it will add value and make business sense. Thereafter, we take the client through the transaction and advise on what should be done.” What of the negotiating disadvantage of age and gender? “Being a woman under 30 years old, I frequently find myself in a boardroom with 10 people, none of whom are under 30 and none of whom are female. “This tendency towards an older environment can be intimidating, particular when they clearly believe that I am too young to know what I am doing. That’s why I always go to great lengths to prepare. Once they realise that I know what I’m talking about, they stop questioning my age and gender.” Hay, a lawyer, maintains that good negotiators are born with the gift of the gab. “Fortunately, I fall into that category. I feel like a fish in water when it comes to negotiating a deal.” Hay is also involved in cross-boarder transactions in line with Mettle’s strategy of helping its clients to operate internationally.

Source: Sunday Times