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Frank B. Bennett
Frank B. Bennett, Fredrikson & Byron

The POWER 30: Frank B. Bennett

Fredrikson & Byron’s website says the firm is where law and business meet.

That has borne true for the last several years, especially 2021, when the mergers and acquisitions market was red-hot.

According to Frank Bennett, co-chair of the firm’s  private equity department, its private equity practice ranked 14th in the nation in 2021 in Pitchbook. It had 245 private equity transactions close in 2021, and a total of mergers and acquisitions closings of more than 350.

That was after 2020 when the pandemic hit hard. Bennett then was holding his breath about the future of deal-making but it turned out there was still a need for capital in business. “[Private equity will] invest in companies and put capital to work,” he said.

There’s an art to putting the right investor with the right business. “It has to do with a companies’ goals. [The sellers] might want to get out of the business, but often they want the founder to keep an ownership interest in the business, or have ‘first bite at the apple’ and continue to be involved, Bennett said

“The key is setting and managing expectations. Some private equity is very hands on, but everybody has a different way of doing it. You need to  match up the styles of the companies, the way they work,” he explained.

The hardest thing may be the relationship the owner has to the business, whether they see it as “their baby,” Bennett said.

“Most equity groups work hard to find a fit. No one wants to work where there’s conflict.

It’s about the culture and about the business objectives. If the goals and objectives are aligned the odds of success are much greater,” he said.

The firm offers an international practice at Midwest attorney fee rates, Bennett said. The firm and its clients have the same concerns about inflation and interest rates as everyone else does, but he expects deal-making to continue, if at a slower place. “It’s similar to 2009 and 2010 where people were looking for 12 good months in the rear-view mirror before committing,” he explained.