All posts by FourBridges

Intellectual Capital and Cautious Traditional Banking Fuel Investment Activity in the South: An Interview with Ken Cyree

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications
Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Dr. Ken Cyree is the Dean of the School of Business and the Director of the Mississippi School of Banking at the University of Mississippi. He is also the Frank R. Day/Mississippi Bankers Association Chair of Banking, and a Professor of Finance at the University. He holds a Ph.D. in finance from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. His research interests include banking and financial markets, and his papers have been published in the Journal of Business, Financial Management and Journal of Banking and Finance, among other academic journals.

Key Takeaways:

  • The culture of debt financing in the Southeast has typically been risk-averse and remains that way today.
  • Because traditional banks remain risk-averse in debt financing, there are more investment opportunities in the Southeast for private equity firms, venture capital firms and angel investors.
  • To best fuel middle market growth and activity in the Southeast, create partnerships between venture capitalism, private equity, traditional banking and hedge funds to support companies from inception to the middle market stage and beyond.
  • The intellectual capital found in the South’s college towns and cities have the resources to spur entrepreneurial growth.

Continue reading Intellectual Capital and Cautious Traditional Banking Fuel Investment Activity in the South: An Interview with Ken Cyree

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Bridging the Economic Disparity Gap in the Mississippi Delta

Bill Bynum
Bill Bynum

Bill Bynum is the founder and CEO of HOPE (Hope Enterprise Corporation and Hope Credit Union), a community development financial institution established in 1994. He has advised Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama on community development while serving as a Chairman for the U.S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Advisory Board. He currently serves as Chairperson of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Advisory Board. Bynum has received several honors including National Entrepreneur of the Year (Ernst & Young/Kauffman Foundation), Ned Gramlich Award for Responsible Finance (Opportunity Finance Network) and Annie Vamper Helping Hands Award (National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions). Today, HOPE is highly regarded as a financial institution and policy institute that advocates economic inclusion across Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee and influences related policies and practices nationwide.

Key Takeaways:

  • Generally, capital is more difficult to access in the Mississippi River Delta region – which includes parts of Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas ­– than in other areas of the Southeast, because it is home to many underdeveloped, rural communities that investors don’t find attractive.
  • Many minority business owners live and work in rural regions like the Delta where access to capital is limited.
  • Bringing traditional financial services back to low-income areas will stimulate economic growth by giving entrepreneurs the opportunity to build equity.
  • Community Development Programs, like the New Market Tax Credit Program, are a good way to bring capital to areas deemed less desirable, like the Delta.
  • With a growing and diverse population, the Delta offers strong business opportunities for entrepreneurs who can think creatively about sourcing the capital they need.

Continue reading Bridging the Economic Disparity Gap in the Mississippi Delta

The South’s Competitive Advantage and the Support of Angels: An Interview with Ramon DeGennaro

Ramon DeGennaro is the Haslam College of Business Professor in Banking and Finance at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville. He has served as a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, as the DeGennaroUT[1]Tennessee Bankers Association Scholar and as a William B. Stokely Scholar at the University of Tennessee. He was also a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, and is the author of “How the Stock Market Works,” produced by the Great Courses. His current research involves financial markets, small-firm finance, investments and prediction markets. Professor DeGennaro is also a Luminary Member of the Angel Capital Group, which has an office in Knoxville. He holds a Ph.D. in finance from Ohio State University.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Southeast’s business-friendly climate makes it easier to do business in the region than elsewhere in the country. Despite this, the Southeast still lacks large amounts of organized capital.
  • In order to receive funding from angel investors, entrepreneurs must be willing to accept coaching, have a proven track record of success and outline a clear exit strategy for investors.
  • There are real advantages to being financed by angel groups, but that doesn’t necessarily mean angel groups are the sole source of a company’s success.
  • With the political uncertainty surrounding the 2016 presidential election, investors will likely be more hesitant to invest in the coming year or two.
  • In the near future, evolving technologies will likely alleviate geographical shortages and surpluses in capital.

Continue reading The South’s Competitive Advantage and the Support of Angels: An Interview with Ramon DeGennaro

A Window Into the Radio Market in the Southeast: An Interview with the Owners of Community Broadcasters

In 2006, Jim Leven and Bruce Mittman came together to form the broadcast group Community Broadcasters, with the goal of being the voice for the community in small and mid-sized radio markets. The duo’s primary area of focus has been in the Northeast, but recently they’ve expanded into the Southeast with the acquisition of 12 South Carolina radio stations from Miller Communications.

Key Takeaways:

  • A booming retail sector and business-friendly government regulations make the Southeast a great environment for businesses, specifically those in the radio industry.
  • From a radio industry buyer’s perspective, the acquisition process doesn’t vary much from region to region. In addition to considering financials, there’s an increased focus on facilities and people.
  • The current landscape of the broadcast industry means there’s likely to be more M&A opportunities in the future.

Continue reading A Window Into the Radio Market in the Southeast: An Interview with the Owners of Community Broadcasters

A Window Into the Tech Industry in the Southeast: An Interview with Doug Johns

Doug Johns is a senior advisor to Doug Johns headshotFourBridges Capital Advisors with many years of executive experience in the technology and telecommunication sectors. He also currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for NIVIS, LLC, the world’s leading developer and integrator of wireless network technologies.

Key Takeaways:

  • Overall, the technology market in the Southeast is very robust, particularly in Atlanta.
  • From a tech standpoint, the Southeast is underserved in terms of access to capital, investment bankers and advisors.
  • The tech industry in the Southeast needs increased visibility to become comparable to other major tech hubs.
  • Developing incubators and accelerator programs are critical to the growth of tech startups.

Continue reading A Window Into the Tech Industry in the Southeast: An Interview with Doug Johns

What the Recent Sale of Southern Tool Steel Tells Us About the M&A Market in the Southeast

 

Key Takeaways:

  • Even though boomer-owned companies may flood the market over the next decade, strong businesses will most likely still find little difficulty in selling.
  • Deciding to sell can be the longest part of the selling process. After that, should take roughly three to six months to prepare the business and an additional three to six months to market the business and negotiate and close a deal.
  • As a seller, it’s important to be realistic about your business. Deal advisors like investment bankers, lawyers and accountants can help clean up the presentation, but they cannot build an entirely new company.
  • Because selling a business should result in swapping the source of the owner’s income from a business to investments, personal advisors like lawyers and wealth managers can do a lot to create an efficient transition.

Continue reading What the Recent Sale of Southern Tool Steel Tells Us About the M&A Market in the Southeast

What the Recent Sale of Southern Tool Steel Tells Us About the M&A Market in the Southeast – Part 1

Key Takeaways:

  • The sale of Southern Tool Steel supports several trends found in the Investment Banking South market survey, including:
    • Manufacturing is particularly strong in the Southeast and is an especially attractive sector to the M&A market.
    • There is a lot of money from outside the region looking for deals in the Southeast. Money is willing to travel to the region because prices are inflated in other parts of the country.
    • There is a lot of money chasing a few quality deals in the region, and it’s a seller’s market.
  • Even if a company has a few blemishes, it’s still a great time to sell if the business is properly packaged and the owner is emotionally ready.
  • Despite interest in the Southeast from investors across the world and advancements in communication tools, proximity can still matter and give local investors an edge.

Continue reading What the Recent Sale of Southern Tool Steel Tells Us About the M&A Market in the Southeast – Part 1

No Geographic Barriers for Middle Market Companies in Florida: An Interview with Glenn Oken

Glenn Oken is a managing director at Mangrove Equity Partners in Tampa, FL, where he focuses on originating deal opportunities and qualifying acquisition candidates. Glenn has been a private equity investor focusing on the lower middle market for 27 years and has completed 129 transactions across 57 different niche industries.

Key takeaways:

  • For lower middle market companies in Florida, there are no longer geographic barriers. Money is willing to travel.
  • However, capital for startup companies may more commonly find seed funding through local angel groups and investors. Once they prove their business model they tend to attract interest from local investors, or from the start-up focused areas of the country.
  • Face-to-face meetings are essential in M&A deals. While numbers are important, relationships are key. In-person meetings give both sides an opportunity to assess the character of a potential partner.
  • As equity partners seek out lower middle-market companies, they look for those whose products or services are essential, non-cyclical and non-commoditized. Often, this ends up being companies with some measure of engineering content, customization, or technical capability who offer mission-critical products or services.
  • Thanks to the strength of the manufacturing and industrial services sector, the South may be one of the best regions for investors focused on those industry categories.
  • The M&A market has not yet seen a sudden mass exit by Baby Boomers. Multiple factors, not just age, are involved in an exit decision. Thus, deal volume seems to have followed a natural cycle over the years, rather than a sudden deluge of exiting Baby Boomers.

Continue reading No Geographic Barriers for Middle Market Companies in Florida: An Interview with Glenn Oken

First Annual Market Expectations Survey

A look at what investors, business owners and their advisors see in the year ahead for mergers & acquisitions in the South. 

Presented here are highlights from the first annual Investment Banking South Survey, in which we ask investors, business owners and their advisors to look back to 2014 and forward to 2015 in order to give us a sense of where the merger & acquisition market in the South is today and where it is going.

Conducted in April 2015, this survey was completed by 338 investors, business owners and business advisors – such as attorneys, accountants and bankers – from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

As we note in the first paragraph, this will be an annual survey, with the results of each year building on the previous year, so that we can identify trends and patterns over time that may shed further light on the evolution of the middle market in the South.

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Capital Looking For a Home in Charleston, South Carolina: An Interview with Bobby Pearce

Bobby Pearce is an attorney with Smith Moore Leatherwood and the co-managing partner of the firm’s Charleston office. His practice includes mergers and acquisitions, corporate law, private securities offerings and shareholder disputes.

Pearce has an entrepreneurial background, having started or invested in multiple companies, and since 1984, he’s spent a great deal of time working on economic development initiatives for the state of South Carolina and the Charleston area.

Key Takeaways:

  • There is a broad chasm in South Carolina between investors with money and companies seeking to raise funds. With a shortage of mid-market companies that have the longer-term, proven track record that most investors are seeking, capital often is being left sitting on the sidelines.
  • Established companies, especially with EBITDA of $2 million and above, now have many more options for capital.
  • Charleston is on a fast growth track with its commercial and industrial base of companies; the number of home-grown and recruited successful, mid-market companies is expected to grow exponentially over the coming years.
  • The snowballing growth of mid-market companies in this region will lead to many more successful exits and then much more capital being reinvested into new companies in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, creating a self-fulfilling cycle of formation, growth and corporate and investor success.
  • Tech-savvy and creative millennials are migrating to Charleston at a rapidly accelerating rate because of its livability, coastal amenities, historic charm and now high-impact work opportunities. The region is one of the top 17 fastest-growing metro areas in the U.S. and is experiencing some growing pains, having to explore infrastructure options to better accommodate the increasing influx of people and businesses.
  • Boeing’s new multi-billion dollar aircraft manufacturing and assembly plant here has spurred an explosive growth of investment in the Charleston region’s aerospace and aviation cluster. Daimler just announced its plans to grow the region’s automotive cluster by building a Sprinter plant, which will complement the already-existing defense, tourism and health care industry clusters.
  • South Carolina’s highly-integrated, 16-campus technical education college system has greatly helped to attract Boeing and other companies to the state and the region. This system offers unparalleled industry-specific training and education and thus provides a steady stream of well-trained, qualified employees, which most other states cannot provide.

Continue reading Capital Looking For a Home in Charleston, South Carolina: An Interview with Bobby Pearce