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Firms Find Corporate Wallets Growing Fatter

Having so much money you just don’t know what to do with it might not be your problem. But happy days seem to be here again for some businesses.

“Companies have returned to profitability, have built cash resources, so successful companies are looking to expand and double-down their bets on business they are in,” said Dave Snyder, a partner in Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman’s San Diego office, and head of its corporate and securities practice group nationwide.

In Pillsbury’s case, nationally, the firm reported merger and acquisition and security transactions valued at more than $54 billion in 2004, including major deals in energy, financial services, technology, telecom and health care , this compared with more than $8 billion the previous year. The San Diego office has seen a lot of activity this year, having represented Xcel Pharmaceuticals in its sale to the Costa Mesa-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, a six-figure deal; and the Hamilton Group, a San Diego-based owner and operator of more than 100 funeral homes and cemeteries across the country, in its acquisition by Keystone North America, a high eight-figure deal, according to Snyder.

“This illustrates that we are in a time where there is a lot of capital out there,” he said. “Investors are looking for a return, plus additional gain. The public offerings markets are not robust, but they are available, and the acquisition market is another alternative for investors to gain liquidity in their investments.”

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It’s a trend that began last year and continued through the first quarter, Snyder said.

“2004 is a much more robust year than 2003, and is continuing in 2005,” he added. “There is a lot of money in private equity firms. I think they are looking for places to put their money, and there are more and more financial transactions , transactions where professional investors look at the business, analyze the cash flow, and buy it because it’s an attractive business to be in.

“That comes from the massive size of hedge funds and money out there chasing financial deals. The rich get richer, and successful companies are looking to expand. It’s a great time to be an M & A; lawyer.”

Does he worry about the bubble bursting?

“I have lived through many bubble bursts and I do wonder about that, but I don’t worry about that,” he said. “It is inevitable, it’s a business cycle.”

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Going Up:

Paul S. Metsch has been elected managing partner of San Diego-based Solomon Ward Seidenwurm & Smith LLP.

Among his areas of expertise are real estate, business and construction-related disputes, personal injury and landlord/tenant issues.

Metsch earned his law degree, cum laude, at the University of San Diego.

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On Board:

John Hankins, an intellectual property partner, has relocated to San Diego, where he will serve as the partner-in-charge of McDermott Will & Emery’s local office.

Cathryn Campbell, who joined McDermott in March 2003 to start up the firm’s San Diego office, has relocated to the firm’s Washington, D.C., office to expand its life sciences practice nationally and in Europe.

At Foley & Lardner, Michael Hay has been added as an associate in the firm’s intellectual property group. His main focus will be the biotech and chemical sectors.

Hay earned his law degree from the University of Houston.

Ramona Cyr has joined Luce Forward Hamilton & Scripps LLP as director of business development and marketing. She’ll be working in the firm’s Downtown office, managing the firm’s new business development and marketing statewide, including its Los Angeles and San Francisco offices.

Erik Bliss has joined Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP as special counsel in its San Diego business group. He earned his law degree from Vanderbilt University.

Heller Ehrman LLP has added five IP lawyers to its San Diego office. They are shareholder Colbern Stuart; associates Matt Lapple and Nicole Cunningham; and senior patent specialists Robert Palmer and Laura Collins, all from the San Diego law office of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker.

Insurance specialist Roger D. Brown, a graduate of the Gonzaga University School of Law, has joined Osborne & Nesbitt LLP, which focuses on insurance coverage analysis and litigation.

Kendra Hall has joined Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP as an associate in its litigation team. She earned her law degree, cum laude, from the University of San Diego.

Cori Mandy has been elected president of the San Diego Legal Secretaries Association, a nonprofit group dedicated to promoting education, professional standards and ethics.


Contact Pat Broderick at pbroderick@sdbj.com or call her at (858) 277-6359, Ext. 3112.

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