On Thursday, March 31, 2016, ACG National Capital will sponsor its 22nd annual Mid-Atlantic Growth Conference, which brings together senior business leaders, investors and service providers from across the east coast to discuss business best practices, network and discuss improving and growing their enterprises.
In anticipation of this exciting annual event, Corporate Growth, Capital Style has been publishing a series of interviews with the speakers, attendees and organizers of conference.
This week, we had the great opportunity to speak with Dean Rutley, a Corporate and Securities partner at Womble Carlyle. Dean is a veteran transaction lawyer at Womble Carlyle focused on mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and venture capital transactions for both emerging and middle market companies with an emphasis in the financial, telecommunications, technology and government contracting sectors.
At this year’s Mid-Atlantic Growth Conference, Dean will be moderating an exciting panel entitled, “Investor Perspectives on Tech and Government Services Investing – What We Are Looking To Invest In Now,” which will also feature John Backus, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of NAV.VC, Michael Lustbader, Managing Partner at Arlington Capital Partners, Jason Rigoli, Partner at Enlightenment Capital, and Peggy Styer, Managing Partner at Razor’s Edge Venture LLC.
During our conversation with Dean, he discussed corporate growth in the National Capital region in 2015, hot industries leading the way in the area, why he attributes much of his success to his college rowing team, and some of the many reasons why he’ll be attending the 2016 ACG Mid-Atlantic Growth Conference.
Here is what he had to say:
CGCS: Can you tell our readers a little about yourself, Womble Carlyle, and what your roles and responsibilities are?
Dean Rutley: I am a Corporate and Securities Partner at Womble Carlyle with a specialization in mergers and acquisitions.
In 1983, I graduated from The George Washington University where I was a four-year member of the school’s varsity men’s rowing team. I often credit my time on the rowing team with having a great influence my practice of law. My time on the rowing team taught me lessons such as working in teams while pulling one’s own weight, having unflappable trust in your teammates, having extreme focus on technique, having resiliency when challenges and set-backs occur, and having grace and humility when you succeed.
These are all deeply instilled character traits that govern how I build and run my deal teams to the client’s benefit.
Following undergrad, I then graduated from GW’s Law School and I currently sit on the Dean’s Advisory Board for the school’s nationally-ranked Government Contracts program. The majority of my M&A practice is in the government contracts (GovCon) and financial technology sectors.
As a senior partner at Womble Carlyle, my chief responsibilities in the firm are to focus on the continued growth by attracting new clients, expanding work with existing clients, assisting in recruitment of talented attorneys to increase bench strength, and training/mentoring younger attorneys, as they will be servicing our clients and running our firm in the not too distant future – in addition to the number one responsibility of providing outstanding client service.
CGCS: What were some of the major corporate growth trends that stood out to you in 2015? Did we see elevated levels of private equity and venture capital investment Why or why not?
Dean Rutley: One of the key new growth trends that stood out in 2015 was in the financial technology sector (FinTech). Starting in 2014, and continuing throughout 2015, FinTech companies that lend, process, or even create currency made a noticeable increased presence on the Inc. 500 list, largely due to frustration with big banks, cheap storage and computing, increased power of analytics, and the rise of the mobile, on-demand economy.
Private equity firms in 2015 played a less noticeable role than in previous years versus strategic buyers. This appears to have been driven by a number of factors, including higher public market valuations – which provided strategic buyers with valuable acquisition currency in the form of their own stock – and the ability of the strategic buyers to derive cost-saving synergies from transactions, thereby allowing them to dig deeper into their pockets when competing against private equity firms.
CGCS: Was there significant merger and acquisition activity in 2015? What may have driven this? Which industries or markets drew the most interest from companies looking to make an acquisition? Why?
Dean Rutley: Global M&A volume soared in 2015 to $4.3 trillion, easily surpassing 2014 and even its previous peak of $4.1 trillion in 2007. U.S. M&A volume made up nearly half of that number.
Much of this was driven by a more stable economic outlook, increased valuations of public companies, which provided acquisition currency that would enable revenue growth by acquisition beyond organic revenue growth, and the ability to create value via increased synergies.
According to Bloomberg’s 2015 Global M&A Year in Review, the top 5 industries for M&A activity were (1) consumer goods, (2) financial, (3) technology, (4) energy, and (5) communications.
CGCS: In your opinion, what industries are currently doing well? Which technologies are people interested in now? Are people investing in big data? Security? Health IT?
Dean Rutley: Communications, technology and government contracts (particularly cyber and intel related companies serving the Federal Government and the three letter intel agencies) are all industries doing well in the mid-Atlantic region.
For 2016, investors appear to remain highly interested in technology, big data, healthcare IT, and cyber/intel product and service providers. This is most likely due to the importance that healthcare and national security have taken on – both economically and politically – in serving and protecting the American public.
CGCS: Why do you attend the annual ACG Mid-Atlantic Growth Conference? What type of people would benefit from it? What benefits do you get out of attending it? And what are you looking forward to most at this year’s event?
Dean Rutley: Each year I attend the ACG Mid-Atlantic Growth Conference for many specific reasons. Mainly to network with clients, prospective clients, referral sources such as investment bankers, private equity managers, and even competitors with whom I regularly negotiate deals.
I also attend to increase my own personal knowledge by listening to the keynote speakers and panelists that are recruited for their expertise. One never stops learning, no matter how many years one practices law!
Any corporate executive charged with growth of his or her company would benefit greatly by attending the conference. As would the private equity managers seeking target companies, the investment bankers seeking to sell companies and the attorneys, bankers/accountants that service companies that are seeking to grow by virtue of organic growth and/or acquisition.
Personally, I’m looking forward to networking, increased knowledge on market and legal trends/new developments, deepening of relationships, and the making of new relationships.
I’m also looking forward to making sure that I do a great job for the attendees in moderating the Investor Panel on, “Tech and Government Services Investing!”
I always worry about ensuring that the attendees obtain valuable insights – what I like to call “golden nuggets” – from the experts on the panels I moderate. I am also very much looking forward to simply connecting with both old, and new friends within the education rich environment that is the ACG Growth Conference and learning.