Can a Big Law Private Equity Practice Play Matchmaker?
Holland & Knight is taking a page out of an investment banker’s playbook.
Many law firms represent both private equity funds looking for companies to buy and companies looking to be sold. Holland & Knight's HK Deal Flow® connects these dots.
The program, developed by Keith Ferry, a former private equity lawyer with a background in digital technology and current director of business development, utilizes a database to source deals for clients. Mr. Ferry was hired by the firm's Private Equity Practice Leader David Barkus to streamline the process of deal matchmaking. Many of the 400 introductions between the firm's private equity and corporate clients within the past year came through HK Deal Flow, leading to deal closings or parties signing letters of intent.
Mr. Ferry's database now includes 150 capital providers, such as private equity firms, family offices, banks and other lenders. Getting into the database is free of charge, and there is no fee or other quid pro quo required to be matched with a company. To know what type of deals the investors want, Mr. Ferry interviews them to find out which industries are they focused on and what sized companies are they looking to buy. He also relies on lawyers like Mr. Barkus to connect him with clients who are looking to raise capital, debt or sell their businesses so that he can match them up with capital providers.
"I think law firms can be a great source of deal opportunities," Mr. Ferry told The American Lawyer. "And if you can do it in an organized, structured, institutional way like we're doing, it brings tremendous value to potential clients and allows for conversations you might not ordinarily get."
Mr. Barkus, known in the industry for his deal-making skills, said that "nobody else has this sort of formal, deal sourcing platform" and "it will only get better over time as more and more lawyers adopt it and participate. He also pointed out how the platform has already played a role in recruiting new lawyers who have been intrigued by the added benefit of helping their clients find deals. For example, Holland & Knight recently absorbed Tampa-based tax boutique firm Sharp Partners—just one deal of what has been a busy year of acquisitions for the firm.