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Retired Minneapolis businessman Art Otto is volunteering with the American Refugee Committee on rebuilding a hurricane-devastated island in the Philippines.

American Refugee Committee,

A bigger year for dealmaking in Minnesota

  • Article by: NEAL ST. ANTHONY
  • Star Tribune
  • December 14, 2013 - 3:50 PM

Dealmak­ers in Minnesota and na­tion­al­ly are head­ing for what should be the best year of cap­i­tal rais­ing and cor­po­rate mer­gers since the Great Recession. A few re­cent deals:

Tonka Bay Equi­ty Partners last week sold St. Paul-based Apex In­for­ma­tion Technologies to lar­ger Westview Capital of Bos­ton. Tonka Bay, which over­saw a boost in business since 2007 when it in­vest­ed in the health care elec­tron­ic pay­ment sys­tems, said Apex’s sales have near­ly doub­led over the past four years to $50 mil­lion and em­ploy­ment has grown from 45 to 95. The price was not dis­closed.

St. Cloud-based GNP, own­er of 1,700-employee Gold’n Plump chick­en, plans to sell for an un­dis­closed sum to a big Il­li­nois hog pro­duc­er.

Car­di­o­vas­cu­lar Systems, which just got fed­er­al ap­prov­al for an in­no­va­tive, eco­nomi­cal vas­cu­lar dis­ease pro­ce­dure, has raised near­ly $75 mil­lion in a com­mon-stock of­fer­ing.

• Pri­vate equi­ty shop Goldner Hawn Johnson of Minneapolis sold its Allen Ed­monds shoe man­u­fac­tur­er of Wis­con­sin for some­thing ap­proach­ing $200 mil­lion to a lar­ger own­er, in what has been a great turn­a­round un­der Minneapolis-based lead­er­ship since the Great Recession.

“Pri­vate equi­ty ac­tiv­i­ty con­tinues to trend high­er on an annu­al ba­sis since the low­est point of the re­ces­sion,” said Steve Judge, a Minnesota boy who heads the Pri­vate Equi­ty Growth Capital Council in Washington, D.C., in a re­cent e-mail re­sponse. “The pri­vate equi­ty exit en­vi­ron­ment con­tinues to be strong, which means cap­i­tal is dis­tri­but­ed back to in­ves­tors, such as pensions, char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tions and u­ni­ver­si­ty en­dow­ments, who rely on pri­vate equi­ty re­turns to ful­fill their so­cial mis­sions.”

Dan Tiemann of KPMG’s Trans­ac­tions & Re­struc­tur­ing Group pre­dicts a good 2014 thanks to “sig­nifi­cant cash on cor­po­rate bal­ance sheets, more con­fi­dence in the over­all ec­on­omy. … Expanding core busi­ness func­tions through acquisitions is an ap­peal­ing strat­egy.”

Many pri­vate equi­ty and in­vest­ment bank­ing part­ners on Wall Street and in the Twin Cities are head­ing for six- and seven-fig­ure bo­nus­es early next year.

Minnesota volunteer shocked by Philippines devastation

Re­tired busi­ness­man Art Otto of Minneapolis is a key vol­un­teer in the hur­ri­cane-deva­stat­ed Ta­clo­ban area of the Phil­ip­pines. He is work­ing with the American Ref­u­gee Committee, the Minneapolis-based hu­mani­tar­ian aid a­gen­cy that works with refu­gees glob­al­ly to re­cov­er and build anew.

Otto is work­ing on a “cash-for-work” program that em­ploys peo­ple to clean neighborhoods, cut and re­move fall­en trees, do con­struc­tion and dis­tri­bute house­hold items.

“It is in­cred­i­bly re­ward­ing work as every small ef­fort and achieve­ment is warm­ly re­ceived,” Otto said in an e-mail mes­sage. “I have been to Hon­du­ras right af­ter Hur­ri­cane Mitch, spent sig­nifi­cant time in Sri Lan­ka af­ter the tsu­na­mi, and spent sev­er­al weeks in Lou­i­si­an­a af­ter Hur­ri­cane Katrina. None of those ex­peri­enc­es have pre­pared me for the ex­treme dev­as­ta­tion I have seen in and around Ta­clo­ban. In some neighborhoods, not a house has been left stand­ing. The area of dev­as­ta­tion ex­tends for miles and miles ra­di­at­ing out from Ta­clo­ban.

“The re­sili­ence of the peo­ple of the Phil­ip­pines is un­believ­able. Men and women come to tears when they show me their de­stroyed homes. When talk­ing with them a bit more, they be­gin to dis­cuss re­build­ing and soon are smil­ing and … show­ing in­ter­est in me rath­er than in their own dire con­di­tion. The kids seem to be bounce back quick­ly, laugh­ing and play­ing among the un­safe rub­ble. They are in­cred­i­bly cu­ri­ous about this old guy walk­ing through their neighborhoods. They nev­er fail to smile, shake hands or ‘high-five’ me.”

For more information, go to www.arcrelief.org.

SHORT TAKES

• In a re­cent inter­view about wheth­er high­er tax­es on the wealth­y will drive af­flu­ent Min­ne­so­tans to low-tax states such as Texas, Minnesota Rev­e­nue Com­mis­sion­er My­ron Frans said he’s bat­tling a false im­pres­sion a­mong some tax law­yers — specifically that charitable giv­ing to Minnesota causes from those seek­ing to es­tab­lish residency in oth­er states is one of the 26 tests Minnesota uses to de­ter­mine state res­i­den­cy. Frans said char­i­ta­ble giv­ing into Minnesota is not an indication of Minnesota res­i­den­cy. The tests in­clude pri­mary res­i­dence, vot­er reg­is­tra­tion, lo­ca­tion of em­ploy­ment, ju­ris­dic­tion of pro­fes­sion­al li­censes and motor ve­hi­cle li­censes. More in­for­ma­tion: www.revenue.state.mn.us/in­di­vidu­als. Last week’s tax col­umn is at: www.startribune.com/busi­ness/234843991.

The law firm of Robins Kap­lan Miller & Ciresi last week do­nat­ed $500,000 to the University of Minnesota Law School to cre­ate and en­dow a fund to re­cruit and re­tain fac­ul­ty mem­bers. The gift is the lat­est in the law school’s “Gen­era­tions” fundraising cam­paign and brings to $60 mil­lion the a­mount raised so far. The school’s goal is $70 mil­lion. The Minneapolis firm Leon­ard Street and Deinard also con­tri­buted $500,000 to the cam­paign. The larg­est do­na­tion to date is $9 mil­lion from the Rob­ina Foundation, an or­gan­i­za­tion that was cre­at­ed by James Bing­er, the late Hon­ey­well ex­ec­u­tive.

• The Robins firm and two part­ners, Kath­leen Flynn Peterson and Mar­tin Lueck, also con­tri­buted $1.125 mil­lion to Wil­liam Mitchell College of Law, the school’s larg­est gift from a law firm in its his­to­ry. The funds are to be used to en­dow two fac­ul­ty po­si­tions and fund ad­di­tion­al schol­ar­ships for women.

DAVID PHELPS

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