Edward and Stuart were sophisticated international businessmen, or at least they thought so. They ran the international division of a rapidly growing telecommunications company that was always looking for money and acquisition candidates. So when they had a chance encounter with a banker who claimed to be a banker and venture capitalist from Japan they asked her some general questions about her firm’s services. She referred them to the bank’s web site and handed them her card. When she handed these gentleman her card, they recognized the bank’s name immediately as a world-class bank based in Japan that had been involved in telecommunications throughout Asia.
The courtship of a business owner and a banker is always a tricky thing said Stuart; it like two porcupines trying to hug without getting hurt. So when she began asking for information so she should conduct her due diligence they were helpful and obliging. For that matter so was she. She came to their offices and viewed their facilities and spoke to most of their key people, major suppliers, attorneys, and accountants. In two months, she had amassed all of the information she needed to make her decision.
The bank and the company negotiated for several weeks thereafter on how the issues of additional financing were going to occur and how the company and the bank were going to work together to acquire some additional companies in Malaysia and Indonesia. Frustrated with the answers of the bank, the company went to speak directly to the acquisition candidates in Malaysia and Indonesia to resolve any potential difficulties in the acquisition phase or in the operational phases thereafter. Agreements were signed setting forth in detail the abilities and positions of both companies. These documents and the corresponding support material were forward to the banker in Japan so she could see with her own eyes the great deals negotiated by Edward and Stuart. Within two weeks a competitor of Edward and Stuart’s snatched up the two acquisition candidates on terms remarkably similar to those negotiated.
At this point Edward and Stuart smelled a rat and called their Japanese banker. She was ever so nice on the phone, but said that these things happen, and not to be put off, but rather to seek other companies out that might also be suitable. Edward and Stuart then called a US branch of the bank and asked about their banker. They said they had never heard of her, but would call Japan to see if they knew of her. Edward and Stuarts’s hearts sank when they received a call late that night from Japan. It appears that this woman had long been known in industrial espionage circles around the world, and used the position of a banker or of a telecommunication company executive to obtain information about other companies.
She worked for no particular firm, but sold her information to the highest bidders. She targeted the telecommunication industry, and could usually be found in or near any telecommunications conference. Stuart and Edward shook their heads: They had met her in the lounge of a hotel in Las Vegas while attending a conference on new 3G communications.
“The only thing we didn’t give her was the key to the men’s restroom, and only because she didn’t ask for that!” said Edward when he learned the truth behind the lady banker from Japan. The bank they thought they recognized was a name very close to the real name of the bank. The virtual company had copied the real bank’s web site with remarkable accuracy, changing only the contact information and a few of the addresses.