“Thank you for your presentation.” The secretary said as he gestured for Sam to take his seat.
“You’re welcome.” Sam replied, taking his seat in the middle of the conference table. He was pleased with the delivery of his evidence, now he hoped it would all be worth it.
Harry, the young intern next to Sam gave him a pat on the back. It was comforting to know that at least his understudy was impressed with him.
“Now, we get to the final point of today’s meeting.” The secretary continued. “Tomorrow voting will commence when everyone has had time to consider the evidence presented today. However, because there are four voting members not present today, they have already received the presentations and cast their votes.”
Everyone in the room leaned forward in anticipation, this was what they were all here for after all.
The secretary cleared his throat and opened the sealed envelope in front of him.
“These votes are now locked and read as follows. William P Jones has voted against the merger, Lara Smith has voted against the merger, Kaspar Balliol has voted against the merge and finally Cynthia Petridis has voted in favour of the merger. This concludes the meeting with a current vote of three-to-one against the proposal. We reconvene here tomorrow at 10am.” The secretary concluded and sat down.
The room erupted in small talk as the two dozen members present discussed the results of the current vote.
“Sam, it was a good closing presentation.” Harry congratulated as he started to gather his notes from the desk in front of him.
“Yes, but at three-to-one against we are not likely to get this deal done without a fight.” Sam replied.
“How many more members have to vote?” Harry asked, dropping his laptop in the briefcase.
“Just three.” Sam said, looking over the table at the three delegates still left to vote. They were still sat down, currently being hounded by lawyers with paperwork that needed signing.
“Three!” Harry exclaimed. “We need all three of them to overturn the vote!”
“Well done, you can count!” Sam said sarcastically. “If any of them vote against us then the whole deal is over.”
“It’s a good job the presentation went well then.” Harry remarked. “You can at least relax tonight.”
“You still haven’t learnt anything from me have you?” Sam replied.
“What do you mean?”
“Now that the meeting has finished the real work begins. We have until tomorrow morning to ensure that the three remaining members vote in our favour.” Sam explained.
“How do we do that?”
“Just watch and try not to screw anything up!” Sam ordered, sitting still and watching the remainder of the room leave.
As the room started to empty Sam took to his feet and approached a group of sharply dressed lawyers who were surrounding an aging gentleman who looked desperate to get out of the room. This was Charles Petit, majority owner of Nuclear Power Systems, a major energy provider in three countries.
“I hope you have a plan to turn this around.” Charles said in a thick French accent as he saw Sam approach.
“I still have some tricks up my sleeve.” Sam replied, shaking Charles hand.
Charles smiled. “You promised me you would get this deal through, now make it happen.”
“Consider it done.” Sam said, smiling and backing away allowing Charles to pick up his coat to leave.
“I don’t know why we are doing this.” Harry whispered to Sam. “We don’t like him; his business is corrupt, and he has enough nuclear waste to destroy an entire ecosystem. He doesn’t deserve to get paid for his failing company.”
“We are doing this because of those very reasons!” Sam reminded Harry. “If this deal doesn’t go through tomorrow, the newspapers will learn that Charles has a mountain of nuclear waste and no funds to dispose of it. What do you think will happen then?”
“I don’t know, he will be humiliated publicly for running his company into the ground?” Harry suggested.
“Possibly, but all that nuclear waste has to go somewhere, and in desperation he will dump it in the ocean, destroying the entire ecosystem, like you said.”
“So why does VisionTech have to suffer? We are tricking them into buying this company.” Harry continued with his questions.
“VisionTech don’t deserve it, but they are the only company capable of dealing with the waste, unfortunately for them, they are about to buy the most expensive, most toxic asset ever sold.” Sam replied.
“It doesn’t look like they are going to buy it. Not at three-to-one against.” Harry added.
“The night is still young yet!” Sam smiled and looked over at the VisionTech shareholders.
“Shouldn’t we go and talk to them? Ask them which way they are voting?” Harry pondered.
“Absolutely not! Observe.” Sam quietly tucked his chair in and walked around the large table to the VisionTech side of the room.
The group was large. It consisted of the three main shareholders who had the voting rights, six other shareholders with non-voting rights and variety of lawyers and representatives. There was no way Sam was getting to the three voters, not with the army of legal representation standing in his way.
Instead Sam approached the lone female who looked busy reading her laptop screen while everyone else stood around making small talk.
“Hi, I hope you don’t mind me asking but aren’t you Stephanie Von-Braun, heiress to the huge fashion company?” Sam asked politely.
“That is correct.” The young lady replied, never looking away from her screen where the same news article had displayed for a couple of minutes. Either she was a slow reader or she didn’t want to be disturbed.
“Forgive me but my girlfriend is a big fan, could I please take a picture with you to make her jealous.” Sam continued.
The young girl finally looked up from her computer, letting out a smile.
“Sure, anything for fan!” Stephanie replied.
“Thank you, Ms Von-Braun.” Sam said as he reached into his pocket and retrieved his smart phone.
“Please, call me Steph.” Steph informed him.
The photo was quick and they both put on huge fake smiles for the camera.
“Thank you!” Sam said, “That will make her really jealous! Like I said, she is a huge fan!”
“Really? Well, how about I hook you up with some unreleased freebies from our newest line.” Steph suggested.
“You could do that?” Sam asked. “That would be amazing.”
“It’s no problem. I have a suitcase full at the hotel across the road. I’ll be bringing samples to the meeting tomorrow; I’ll save you a bag.” Steph continued.
“That’s so kind, thank you!” Sam finished, shaking the woman’s hand and re-joining Harry across the room.
“Okay, so I watched, but I don’t know what I was supposed to learn from that. It seemed like you just got yourself a date with a beautiful, rich, young girl, but she thinks you have a girlfriend.” Harry said.
“I told you to pay attention! Book us a room in the hotel across the road for tonight, and we are eating in their restaurant too.” Sam said, pushing the laptop bag into Harry’s chest. “And pay more attention in future!”
Harry watched as Sam left, confused at the transaction that had just taken place.
That night Sam and Harry ate their meal in the hotel restaurant, aware that VisionTech had booked out the private room next door.
“So we now we are in the same hotel as the shareholders. Clever! Do you think you can get into the room?” Harry asked.
“Excuse me.” Sam replied, rapidly getting up and leaving behind his half-eaten meal. “He’s going the toilet.”
“Who is?” Harry asked, turning around to see Michael Korhonen, one of their three ‘targets’.
“It seems like the deal isn’t likely to happen.” Michael said as he washed his hands next to Sam in the restaurant bathroom.
“So it would seem.” Sam replied, busy washing his own hands.
“I didn’t know we were staying in the same hotel otherwise I would have offered you join us.” Michael said.
“Don’t worry about it, we are just getting a bite to eat then we have work to do, but thanks for the offer.” Sam replied, wiping his hands on the towel.
“Well if it’s any consolation, I will be voting in favour of the merger.” Said Michael, also reaching for the towel.
“Thank you, that means a lot. Can I ask why?” Sam pondered.
“I think it will be good for VisionTech to get into the nuclear power sector, it’s clean energy and I have some innovative ideas to improve the entire market, plus it never hurts to have access to radioactive material.” Michael explained.
“I suppose your right. Do you think the deal will go through though?” Sam asked.
“I doubt it. Like I said, you have my vote. David is still undecided, Linda is dead set against the deal. Given that you need all three votes I can’t see it happening. Sorry.”
“Well thank you for your support anyway.” Sam replied as they left the bathroom.
“Come into our room for a quick drink if you have time before you leave. It’s an open bar!” Michael offered as they parted ways in the lobby of the restaurant.
“Well, that’s one vote in the bag.” Sam said as he sat back down at his meal.
“Wow, I’m impressed.” Harry replied, shocked that Sam had successfully negotiated the deal.
“Just two more to go. I want you to head back to the room and try to dig up anything you can on David Heikkinen, I am going to get Linda’s vote now.” Sam explained.
Sam gestured for the bill and a waiter made his way over to the table and started to clear away their plates.
“Sir, I have just been informed that VisionTech have covered the cost of your meal tonight.” The waiter informed Sam.
“How kind of them, I must thank them personally, I’ll meet you in the bar in an hour.” Sam told Harry as he stood up, folding his napkin away on the plate just as the waiter took it away.
“Sam. Over here.” Steph beckoned as Sam entered VisionTech party.
“Hello again.” Sam said as he approached the young girl, sat on a stool next to the bar. “It looks like a good party?”
Sam glanced around the room to see various lawyers and business men making small talk, stood around tall tables with half drank cocktail glasses.
“Absolutely! You know, accountants and lawyers are party animals, especially in front of their employers.” Steph laughed.
“I think I know who is having the most fun!” Sam said, pointing to a small group of men in the corner, one of them was loudly boasting about something while the others listened, however, one of the members of the group was quite clearly struggling to stay awake.”
“You see! Wild!” Steph continued. “I am beginning to think Linda had the right idea.”
“Yeah, where is she?” Sam asked.
“She has retired to bed. Something about needing to fly out early tomorrow morning.” Steph explained.
“Fly out early? She has to cast her vote.” Sam said, the alarm audible in his voice.
“I guess she has already made it.” Steph replied. “Don’t worry, I am sure that it will go in your favour, you made a compelling speech earlier.”
“I only wish that was true.” Sam replied. “I believe that she voted against us.”
“Well, it’s not my place to say, but I think you are right.” Steph said, taking a sip from her drink.
“Really? How so?” Sam asked.
“Linda said something before she left, about a new type of technology involving gravity-distortion that will render most current energy methods obsolete.” Steph continued.
“Great, I suppose I better get a drink, might as well use VisionTech’s bar tab before tomorrow.” Sam said as he signalled the bartender for a drink.
“I think I’ll join you.” Steph replied, finishing the contents of her glass and indicating that she needed another.
“What are you doing here anyway? I thought you would be off promoting your new perfume or handbags?” Sam asked.
“Yes, well, Daddy thought it would be a good idea for me to start attending meetings at all his business investments. Daddy owns a lot of shares in a lot of businesses and he isn’t getting any younger, he cant always make it to these meetings so now he is sending me.” Steph explained.
“It’s not. It is usually full of old men trying to touch you up in elevator.” Steph explained.
“People aren’t really like that are they?” Sam asked, with honesty and naivety in his voice.
“Unfortunately, when you’re the only female under the age of thirty in a room of rich, retired, old men they don’t usually hold back.”
“Wow, I never thought it was so common, I honestly feel sorry for you.” Sam replied.
“Don’t worry, I know how to handle them. To be honest, I must apologise, that was why I was so cold when you approached me, I thought you were just another guy trying to hit on me.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” Sam stuttered.
“Sorry? For what?”.
“Not sorry, erm, not sorry for not hitting on you, sorry that other people do.” Sam continued, trying to get the foot out of his mouth.
“Don’t worry.” Steph laughed. “I know what you mean, relax.”
“Relax! That’s going to be hard, tomorrow I have to tell a French guy that I have not successfully sold his business.” Sam said, taking a large sip from his neat whiskey.
“Good luck with that! I thought I had a rough day ahead of me tomorrow.”
“Why, what do you have to do?” Sam asked.
“I have to fly out to Singapore to deliver a presentation to attract investors so we can build a factory in South Chad.” Steph said.
“South Chad. That’s a bit remote for a factory.” Sam replied.
“Yes, it is, but land values are low, and the workers are cheap.” Steph explained.
“And it has nothing to do with the large gold mine that is suspected to be there.” Sam questioned.
“You know your stuff!” Steph added. “I could use a man like you.”
“I am sure you could, what kind of deal are you looking to achieve?” Sam asked.
“Well, get money from investors who are willing to invest in slave labour, use the money to build a gold mine under a pseudo-name, then report back that the make-up factory was a failure tell the investors that their money is gone.”
“Sounds like the usual thing I organise.”
“Are you serious? I have heard about your reputation; I would really like to work with you.”
“Sure, I don’t think I am doing anything tomorrow if you can get me a flight. Plus, I need an excuse to get away from the French man.”
“I’ll see what I can do.” Steph said, putting her empty glass on the bar and signalling to her assistant.
“Phone Kaspars people and see if we can borrow his jet tomorrow.” Steph instructed, we need to fly Sam out to Singapore.
The assistant, who was even younger than Steph looked Sam up and down before walking away, phone in hand already making a call.
“Kaspar? The same investor who voted against this merger?” Sam asked.
“The very same, I’m the reason he couldn’t be here, he is setting up things in Singapore. It’s another project we are working on.” Steph explained.
“Good to know!” Sam replied. “Sorry to leave you but I have to find my intern, he can’t be trusted on his own.”
“I understand. I suppose I should mingle in the crowd anyway.” Steph said as she looked out into the sea of suited up, slightly overweight business men in front of her.
“Good luck with that!” Sam laughed as he indicated to the barman for another drink. “One for the road!”
An hour later and Sam was joined Harry in the hotel bar.
“I found something you might find interesting.” Harry informed Sam who was nursing his drink.
“That’s great but I don’t think it’s going to matter.” Sam said, downheartedly.
“It turns out that David has an interesting hobby, he has his fortune read every morning. He has a professional psychic follow him around and read his palm every day. The shrink is up in the room right now while David parties with the rest of the shareholders.” Harry informed Sam.
“And I thought we were the ones pulling the scams around here.” Sam joked. “That’s good research but I don’t think it matters, Linda isn’t going to budge on her decision, so we are outvoted.”
“Is that it then? Do we give up?” Harry asked.
“It’s difficult to say, let’s just see what tomorrow brings.”
Sam was the last person to enter the boardroom. The night had not been kind on him, he couldn’t remember how many whiskeys he had drank but he was here now, just in time.
Harry had already taken his seat and was frantically looking through his notes.
“What’s going on?” Sam asked as he sat down.
Harry started to load a website on his laptop but before he could answer the secretary stood up and commenced his speech.
“As some of you might be aware, today we start the meeting with a moments silence for Kaspar Balliol. Last night his plane crashed in the Arabian Sea and the wreckage was recovered onto a beach in Oman. It was a terrible incident to happen to such a young person.” The secretary placed his hand over his heart to signify a moments silence.
Harry twisted the laptop screen towards Sam who could read the article that had been hurriedly created in the middle of the night. It explained how Kaspar was on his way from Singapore but his plane started smoking as it flew over the Middle East. Locals jumped on board their fishing trawlers to get to wreckage but there were no survivors.
“Thank you.” The secretary proceeded. “Now we must continue with todays events. Yesterday the vote stood at three-to-one against. With the untimely death of Mr Balliol last night, policy dictates that we remove his vote and appoint the next, longest serving shareholder as a voting member.”
The secretary turned to Steph who stood up.
“Ms Von-Braun, your father is the next longest serving shareholder, since you are here as his representative you will obtain the voting rights for this meeting. Given all the evidence how do you vote?”
Steph looked at Sam across the table and a smile grew on her face.
“I vote in favour of the merger.”
“Thank you. The votes now stand at two-two.” The secretary informed the room.
“Mr Korhonen could you please declare you vote.”
Michael stood up. “I vote in favour of the merger.”
“Thank you, now Mrs Roberts, how would you care to vote?”
Linda stood up next, scowling at the French man in the corner who was on the edge of his seat.
“I vote against the merger.”
“The vote now stands at three-three. Mr Heikkinen you have the casting vote.”
David stood up, looking at the palms of his hands as he did.
“I vote in favour of the merger.”
“Then I conclude that the sale will go ahead.” The secretary informed the room.
Whoops and cheers went up from the French man and his business partners while the VisionTech lawyers opened their briefcases to get out the paperwork.
“Well done! That was lucky!” Harry suggested, again patting Sam on the back.
“Yes, it was all down to luck!” Sam replied.
Outside of the meeting room half an hour later Sam was making his way back to the hotel when his name was called across the lobby.
“Sam, wait up.” It was Steph.
“Kaspars flight went down, I am assuming that means I don’t have a flight to Singapore?” Sam asked.
Steph looked up and smiled.
“Nope, it means your going to have to fly on my jet.” She explained. “I don’t normally allow outsiders on my plane, even my friends haven’t been on board, so I hope you understand the commitment I am making.”
“I understand. I’ll be on my best behaviour; I just need to go and give a psychic some money and I’ll be with you!”