I’ve always sort of wondered, in a low-grade way, what precisely the involvement of the Harrison Ford’s character is in the big Working Girl deal put together by Melanie Griffith.
In the movie she is Sigourney Weaver’s secretary, who is in “mergers and acquisitions” at the firm where they work. I don’t know what the place does, except it has something to do with stocks. I don’t know why they would want to help someone buy or sell their company. And further, why do they need yet another firm to help them?
I know that understanding each and every detail of the “business deal” Melanie comes up with is not crucial to following the plot. But after all this time and numerous pleasant viewings of the movie, I just sort of wondered what exactly was going on there.
Aside: Among many others, I love that scene where Melanie and Harrison Ford start ripping each others clothes off as the come in the door and later, we get a shot of all their business clothes and brief cases puddled where they dropped them. They’re animals beneath all that high finance!
I can’t remember the movie THAT well, but I just assumed Sigourney was an investment banker - the whole purpose of her company was to do deals. I can’t remember if Harrison Ford worked for another I-Bank - one that was representing the other company involved in the deal, or was an advisor or specialist that Sigourney’s I-Bank tapped every now and then to close a deal…
Just a WAG, and it’s been many years since I’ve seen the movie, but big deals like that often need lawyers to make sure everything is done correctly and according to the parties’ intent. Among other things, the lawyers would, for example, draft a contract of sale that made sure that every aspect of the merger (stocks, bonds, assets, liabilities, etc.) was looked after in a mutually-agreeable fashion. If two companies are merging, they might well want to bring in a “neutral” lawyer or lawyers from another firm; as opposed to their own in-house counsel, who might be seen as biased.
Like I said, just a WAG and my memory of the movie isn’t good, but maybe the Harrison Ford character was a lawyer.
I can’t see how “do deals” is a company’s purpose. Melanie thought of the idea and presented it to the buyer. They weren’t retained specifically as advisors. I don’t think Harrison Ford was a lawyer, but I could be wrong.
Maybe it’s just too high-financie for me, but surely it can be explained in laymen’s terms. Maybe I should have put this in General Questions?
From what I remember of the movie, Jack, Tess and Katherine work for an investment bank. Part of an investment bank’s duties is to manage money, at least at that time frame (this is way oversimplified, but factually correct). Trask, their client, wanted to expand its operations, but it doesn’t know how. I can’t remember if Trask solicited the idea to the i-bank or if Katherine was mining for an opportunity. I think they proposed the idea on their own accord, as I recall Jack and Tess crashing a wedding.
Anyway, Trask is not in the business of buying companies. To acquire another company requires a lot of planning, capital fund raising, due diligence on the business and its practices, policies, and procedures, etc. This is where the i-bank comes into play. They do all the grunt work and research on the proposed merger, and make arguments. Then, they go in and audit all the financial statements and ensure that everything is what the parties claim it is. They run their analysis through risk management and compliance, Then, they go out and secure capital, usually through issuing securities (both equity and debt) to investors. Needless to say this is a complicated endeavor (though highly lucrative).
I could give a more detailed answer if I saw the movie again to jog my memory. But, in a nutshell that’s about it. It may seem relatively easy, but this is a humongous undertaking, especially if the other company does not want to be bought.
Ah - and welcome to the world of “high-financie” stuff - 100% of what I-Banks do is deals. They are approached by companies that are looking to sell themselves (or parts), who want to go public or change their stock/debt structure (which is also a type of deal), etc. And I-Banks will approach companies with deal ideas - so if Melanie’s character was actually an I-Banker (not a secretary who had to work around things) and was thinking “gosh, company X should buy company Y” - her I-bank would assess the situation, layout a proposal and approach the companies in question. If both companies were, in fact, interested - the deal might get done - in which case the I-Bank can get cut in for a HEFTY percentage of the sales price…
As much as I enjoyed the film, the central “brilliant” idea - that a company looking to buy a TV network should start smaller and buy a radio chain - is so blindingly obvious that it’s hard to believe that everyone hadn’t already considered it. Are are these high finance people just that dim?
The writers probably had to dumb down the movie otherwise, they would lose most of the audience. My company is currently trying to buy these small producers of solar cell technology for their alternative energy business unit. To explain why production center is better than another would be too complicated and distracting. Remember, Tess is supposed to have this business savvy that makes the audience identify,sympathize, and ultimately root for the character. It’s more efficient to show this in a way easily digestible to the lowest common denominator. Contrast this to Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) in Pretty Woman, where the details of his transaction weren’t necessarily as important as his overall business strategy (rip apart and sell vs. build and create).
Wasn’t there some additional twist where purchasing a radio chain would protect Trask from a threatened hostile takeover by a foreign (Japanese?) company as well? Something about FCC rules that wouldn’t allow the radio chain to be owned by a non-USA company. Tossed in to make Melanie look even more clever.