Legal advice and services are part and parcel of the private equity business. “The two go hand in hand,” says Eric Jones, J.D. ’09, a partner in the Corporate Department at Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP in Detroit. “As legal advisors, we are the ones who run any given transaction from a legal standpoint and keep the deal on track. We become engaged at a very early point and advise our private equity clients at every stage.”
Honigman’s Private Equity Practice Group represents private equity funds on the East and West coasts and throughout the Midwest in the financing, acquisition, operation and disposition of their portfolio investments. The firm’s primary focus is middle-market transactions, which involve companies with enterprise values of up to $500 million.
“We also provide ongoing legal counsel to the portfolio companies of our PE clients during the term of the investment,” Jones says. “Typically, we handle day-to-day legal matters, litigation, corporate governance issues, add-on acquisitions and divestitures. As a full-service firm, we touch on any aspect that may affect a portfolio company.”
Honigman has been a sponsor of the Michigan Global Private Equity Conference for the past 10 years and has helped to shape the focus, speaker lineup and content of the annual event. “We participate in meetings and calls with other members of the advisory committee to identify potential speakers and current issues for discussion,” Jones explains. One of the hot topics at this year’s gathering, he says, will be the current legislative climate surrounding private equity funds and transactions. “For example, one issue that has been on the front burner for some time is the tax treatment of carried interest, which is the share of profits that a general partner of a private equity fund receives from its ownership interest in the fund’s assets,” Jones explains. “Carried interest is currently taxed at more-favorable capital-gains rates, but some policymakers want to tax it at higher ordinary-income rates, which would negatively impact funds.”
Honigman’s sponsorship is a win-win for the firm and the University of Michigan’s Law School and Ross School of Business. “Our firm benefits by cementing ties with the University and creating a conduit for recruiting talented individuals coming from the law and business schools,” Jones remarks. “In the future, we may attract these graduates to our law practice or assist them in private equity transactions.”
Check out these other private equity events taking place on Thurs. Oct. 8. Ross Fireside Chat: PE consulting career panel and student meet & greet at the Ross School of Business (https://www.facebook.com/umfiresidechats/). Women Who Fund Forum designed to connect women-owned business leaders with women in the venture capital and private equity industries (http://www.bus.umich.edu/conferences/Women-Who-Fund/ViewConference.aspx)