The problems facing Purecircle actually flag a wider issue and means the traditional due diligence in m and a needs reviewing.
Increasingly, acquirers must focus on more than financial issues, traditional litigation checks and title of assets validation - operational due diligence now needs to focus on extraterritorial compliance issues.
Anti-corruption verification is a must and involves not only checking of financial records, but also management interviews as to the approach to business generation leads and sales. Particular attention must also be taken to high commission payments, favorable sale terms or excessive marketing support to distributors.
Ethics and anti-trust policies also need bigger review in addition to further management interviews around trade associations and sharing of customer information with peers.
An increasingly difficult issue however, is reviewing how suppliers are to target trade themselves, particularly if the suppliers are based in emerging markets. The UK Modern Slavery Act imposes obligations on companies to understand how the suppliers operate. There is no material exemption. This means supply chain management and due diligence is now a really hot topic. Undoubtedly, at some point an acquirer is going to get caught out by not carrying full diligence.
Shares in stevia maker PureCircle plummet as 'slave labour' allegation takes its toll.