Ryan Miest is the co-chair of the mergers and acquisition department at Fredrikson& Byron, which has been ranked in the Top 20 among U.S. law firms in PitchBook’s Annual Global League Tables for the past two years.
(PitchBook assembles and reports data on businesses including private equity and mergers and acquisitions.)
Miest has practiced with Fredrikson for more than 20 years, representing buyers and sellers, private and public companies.
The M&A markets have been a dominant force in the last decade driving deals that take a lot of money. The result has been huge growth at Fredrikson. “It’s kind of a calling card for our firm,” Miest said.
And private equity has been important, including hedge funds, venture capital funds and other investment funds not publicly traded, Miest said. It is equity formed for the purpose of taking control of or acquiring a company.
Part of many investors’ strategies is to buy a “portfolio company” and grow it. Miest said. Then they acquire other smaller companies as “add-ons.”
“We represent a lot of funds on their add-ons. It’s become more competitive, and the general public may not even know about the transactions, he said.
One of the things about private equity that is not emphasized is that the funds are building better businesses, that are larger and more stable, Miest said.
As lawyers have observed, the level of dealing kept up and even increased during the pandemic years. “When the pandemic hit everything stopped,” Miest said. “We all were obviously concerned. In June and July (2020) things started to heat up. In August we brought on associates and later lateral associates. We closed over 350 deals in the top 20 in the country per Pitchbook.”
Miest is unconvinced that it was stimulus money that spurred the activity. It was low interest rates combined with dry powder, he said. (Dry power refers to available cash and borrowing ability.) “Once we made Q4 2020 we were bullish about 2021,” he said. That was a great M&A year, lawyers have said.