Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Midddle Market Growth in Uncertain World Markets - A Fine Conference

I had the pleasure of co-chairing a fine international conference yesterday –sponsored by the Association for Corporate Growth’s Chicago chapter– a group that brings together our very active community of private equity firms, investment banks, accountants, lawyers and other dealmakers. Many in this 1,000-member organization share a growing passion for international opportunities, and about 200 proved to be active enough to register for our event.

The focus was on mid-market companies expanding internationally in uncertain times. The overall message from our several panels of speakers: yes, capital and debt markets in the coming months will present some major challenges, but expanding companies and dealmakers that are not relying on high levels of debt are likely to find an excellent hedge against the US economy in growth markets elsewhere (as well as from non-US investors attracted by a weak dollar and more reasonable US valuations). You all know the markets – whether India or other BRIC countries, Central Europe, Dubai, Vietnam and elsewhere.

Our feedback was strongly positive, fueled by an excellent keynote presentation by Robert Reich (who happens to have a great sense of humor, including on a personal level around the lunch table), a breakfast keynote moderated by Fortune Magazine’s Global Editor, Stephanie Mehta (a rising journalism star of South Asian decent who happens to be from Chicago), and 5 panels of speakers from companies such as Boeing, Abbott Laboratories, Zebra and Littlefuse, private equity firms such as The Jordan Company, Baird, 3i and Audax, investment banks such as Brown Gibbons Lang, consultants such as A. T. Kearney and Visthar and other publications such as Business Week.

Can you guess InternationalCounsel’s professional interest in contributing to such an event? Our longstanding focus has been on internationally-expanding mid-market companies attracted by our cost-effective international legal team model - just the sort of audience who found their way to the Sheraton for yesterday’s event.

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