National Organization takes root in Connecticut
Stamford Advocate, Wednesday, April 11 2001.

Connecticut businesses and service providers involved in corporate development, mergers and acquisitions have a new local organization where they can network and share ideas.

Representatives of about 50 businesses and providers recently met at the Stamford Marriott for the initial meeting of the Connecticut chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG). Douglas Sweeny, vice president of business strategy at IBM, discussed "The 'e'volution of IBM."

Almost 20 businesses and service providers, including investment bankers and attorneys involved in mergers and acquisitions, have become members of the national organization founded in 1954, which focuses on companies with annual revenues of $50 million to $1 billion.

"The focus of the ACG has been on mid-market, rather than the billion-dollar range deal," said Kevin Fiala, President of the local chapter and a Principal in Bywater Corporate Development Services in Stamford, a firm that assists companies seeking acquisition or investor possibilities.

"It also helps Fortune 1000 companies and smaller companies looking to sell or buy or looking for financing," said Fiala, noting that the organization has 5,000 members in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. "Forty Fortune 1000 companies are within 30 miles of Stamford. We're very excited about the group and its opportunities in Fairfield County."

Private equity groups involved in the buying and selling of companies are prominent in lower Fairfield County, Fiala said.

"We want to get a solid base in the Stamford area and then think about other parts of the state," Fiala said. "We're hoping by the end of this year we'll be in the three-digit range in membership."

Some attendees came from Hartford. The distance did not deter Richard Klaffky, president of First New England Capital, who has been attending chapter events in New York City and Boston.

"First New England provides equity capital for mid-market companies with revenue of $5 million to $100 million," said Klaffky, who is considering joining the chapter. "It's a good source of networking. We have a very active mid-market financing community in Connecticut."

Although Klaffky's firm would have no dealings with IBM, he said Sweeny provided a valuable perspective on the corporation and the future of the Internet and communications industry.

Sweeny said IBM realized that to grow it would have to sell its technology to its competitors. "Inside Apple computers is a lot of IBM technology. It has grown into a $9 billion business. The company uses electronic-business as a tool in the globalized world market and has become a formidable player in global Internet industry.

"There will be 2.5 billion Internet users by the end of the decade - a large percentage in China. Information technology is becoming a major contributor to gross domestic products worldwide," Sweeny said.

He warned that in the United States more young people need to enter careers in information technology as Asian and European companies loom as competitors with American industry. The chapter will hold its next meeting May 4 at 7:45 a.m. at The Stamford Marriott. Jack Peregrim, vice president of Innotech, will discuss "Creative Growth: In and Out of the Box at the Fortune 500."

Fiala said monthly morning sessions initially would be held at the Marriott.



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