What are the similarities and differences between Corporate Development and Sell-Side in terms of experience?

There are countless articles regarding the buy side vs. sell side in terms of similarities and differences. What about between corp dev and sell-side? Corp-dev meaning that you work on deals for the company itself and underwrite your own deals and sell-side where you represent clients.

My train of thought so far is the following:

-Basically a generalist in terms of deal type (M&A, debt offerings, equity offerings, spin-offs)
-Same ebb and flow of a typical deal timeline
-Same soft and technical skills needed of a sell-side analyst

-To others, people may view you as less experienced in handling client engagement

Obviously, I'm a bit biased as I'm currently in corp dev but I would love to hear thoughts.

Comments (8)

Nov 29, 2018

I worked a lot in REPE before moving into a very large company M&A team. We are a small group (5 of us) so I get to see a lot of stuff and underwrite deals in the billions so that's cool but one thing I miss is the complicated capital stacks and deal structuring. Before I would be involved with debt, mezz, preferred equity, etc. in addition to helping to raise capital and working on promotes. Here, it's vanilla. We buy in cash with little to no debt even on the stuff with a b in front of it. The deal flow is crazy because we have investment bankers always bringing us stuff to look at. I get to work through the entire process from NDAs, financial analysis, PSAs and APAs, etc. all the way through closing so that's a plus. I've really honed my negotiations skills here but I am ready to get back to the PE side of things.

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Nov 29, 2018

So you went into sell-side/buy-side like experience into corp dev like role, right? I think it would be a great building block to start vanilla before delving into varied and complex deals?

The reason why I asked the title question in the first place is because I'm attempting to market myself into IB but an HR person recently said that my corp dev experience is not investment banking

Nov 29, 2018

It's funny you ask that because I tried Ibanking and had no luck. Moved into real estate private equity and it was fun but the pay sucked so I had an opportunity pop up with an in-house M&A team and now I am getting all kinds of traction in Ibanking. I have had around 5 interviews in the last two weeks.

Most Helpful
Nov 29, 2018

Corp dev is buyside... It's not client services oriented. Its focus is due diligence. Corp dev, in theory at least, is more comparable to PE than to banking, except as a strategic buyer.

    • 3
Nov 29, 2018

Is there a way I can market my corp dev experience into a sell-side position?

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Nov 29, 2018

Yeah, to the extent you have live transaction experience, experience with PPT/Excel, etc..

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Nov 30, 2018

This. Corp Dev is buyside, but typically a little more focused. For example, you say that both buy and sell side are basically generalists, that's not true of Corp Dev. In Corp Dev you likely focus on the market that your company serves and potentially adjacencies. I'd doubt there's anyone in Corp Dev working on both O&G and Tech or Healthcare and Industrials. You'll be focused on a sector or similar sectors.

Also, structure will be pretty limited. The F500 companies I know of generally make acquisitions in all cash. RARELY debt will be issued to raise $ (and that's handled by Treasury) or stock will be used. Typically, the analysis is done in the standard model with semi-standard deal terms for cash.

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

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Nov 30, 2018