Tampa private equity update: “great city for middle market deals.”

March 20, 2010

from the 3/19/10 Tampa Bay Business Journal

TBBJThe deal environment is more optimistic today with a focus on strategic acquisitions in health and life sciences and financial services. There’s about $750 billion in private equity capital and an estimated $1 trillion in corporate money waiting for investment opportunities, LaBranche said. Tight credit practices and uncertainty about health care and financial reform have kept investors from making big bets.

Once clarity comes to that process, I think investors are going to be looking hard to place that money and put it to work,” LaBranche said. “That’s what we do. We put wealth to work to create prosperity for other people.”

Adding value

Nationally, there are about 26,000 companies that employ 3.8 million people collectively with some level of private equity investment. At least 50 firms in the Tampa Bay area have attracted growth capital.

Ballast Point Ventures’ portfolio companies collectively employ more than 3,000 people across Florida, said Matthew Rice, VP. Investments include Lifestyle Family Fitness, a chain of health clubs based in St. Petersburg. Ballast Point initially invested in 2004 when there were 18 Lifestyle gyms; now there are 55 clubs…

TowerCloud LLC, a St. Petersburg provider of mobile backhaul services to wireless carriers, is a more recent investment but is expected to grow rapidly, Rice said…

Mission critical business-to-business services are faring well in the current environment, Oken said. B-to-b businesses that strip costs out of someone else’s economic model are a source of future growth, Ballast Point’s Rice said.

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