Larger deals are having a much more difficult time moving forward than smaller ones these days due to the problems in the credit markets and the unpredictable state of the U.S. finan-cial industry in general, according to Jeffrey Dearth, a partner at media investment bank DeSilva+Phillips. “Buying "leverage' is down, and buyers are forced to write larger equity checks than they normally would,” he said. Because of that, buyers are far more cautious, and due diligence is even more stringent than it was only a few months ago. This, in turn, has added to the time it takes to put together deals, Dearth said. “Time can be an enemy in an uncertain economic environment,” he said. Dearth said sellers need to link up with buyers that are motivated and not just kicking tires. “Sellers need to show adaptability in the face of change and to demonstrate that they are adept at reading their particular markets, managing costs and positioning themselves for continued growth,” Dearth said. To convey the seriousness of their interest, buyers should “put a short fuse on the transaction, demonstrate a willingness to move quickly on due diligence and perhaps volunteer to mark up an asset purchase agreement at the time of the signing of a letter of intent,” he said. — M.J.M.