Chapter Four

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David took another sip of his coffee as he looked into the eyes of each of the women, "But let's get back to here, back to now."

They expanded the idea of Maria's return to nursing school before the discussion split. While Rachel and Maria were deciding what to pack from the house in Gottenheim, David and Bethia examined the business structure of the slaughterhouse. She described the assets, including the building and the land it sits on, the rendering plant, the new bank of ammonia absorption coolers, the vehicles, the entire infrastructure. They discussed the quality of the long-term employees, as well as the stability of the new ones.

Bethia explained the contract with the Army to supply and deliver three tonnes a day of pork and beef sides. "The contract runs through to the end of August, and their reports show they are well pleased with us. They'll likely sign another six-month renewal before the end of June; we now have a two-month notice clause in the contract."

"The value of your current business and that of your contracted future business are saleable assets," David said. "And the stable relations with your sources of livestock also have value."

"Lorenz Großkopf, the man who was here yesterday afternoon, said these are of no value, nor are the employees. He said they want to buy the facilities, and he stated quite forcefully the present and future business are irrelevant to the value."

"Tante Bethia, he is wrong. Completely wrong. The asset value of the ongoing business is the margin between its revenue and its expense, extended forward. A high quality and stable workforce is also a marketable asset. He is likely hoping to take advantage of a widow. After we finish breakfast, I want to review your books. Also, I want you to dig into Aaron's files to find out who your lawyer is. He needs to be here tomorrow afternoon for the meeting."

Half an hour later, as David was poring over the books and jotting figures on sheets of paper, Bethia said, "Here it is, Adam Goldstein, I should have remembered. They're just along the street; we saw them often out walking, though not lately. I haven't been out much since Aaron... I'll walk over and ask if he can join us tomorrow afternoon. How do the books look?"

"Meticulously kept. Very precise; you've obviously had training."

"I worked as a bookkeeper before I met Aaron."

"Lay these on the table tomorrow. Their neatness alone will add value to your business. The financial story they tell will add a lot more." He pointed to his papers. "I'm almost finished extracting details for a summary."

"I'm so pleased you like them. In the attic is an archive of them going back more than twenty years. Will they also help tomorrow?"

"Most certainly. When you see Herr Goldstein, ask him if he can give us an idea of property values in this area, possibly some data on recent sales. I'll continue here, and then we can calculate an appropriate value and come up with a reasonable price."

Bethia tilted her head. "Aren't they the same, value and price?"

"Simplistically, yes, but actually, seldom. External factors come into play; things such as supply and demand. With the uncertainty caused by the war, we can expect large skews in both price and value. The strong demand for meat for the soldiers adds to the value of your company. We need to determine how much."

Forty minutes later, Bethia was back with confirmation that Adam Goldstein would be at the meeting the next day. She handed David a folder enclosing a single sheet of paper. On it, in a bold hand, were particulars of five transactions in the past six months. Included were three sales of businesses and two sales of vacant commercial properties in the area around Erzingen.

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