Meeting other dealmakers and building relationships are essential activities in the middle market. Most dealmakers – especially those in business development roles – typically spend a large percentage of their time on the road, conducting one-on-one meetings, attending conferences, going out for meals and engaging in bonding activities, like playing golf or going to a ball game. So what do you do when you’re quarantined and face-to-face meetings are out of the question? For Work from Home (WFH) strategies, Mergers & Acquisitions turns to eight prominent dealmakers from private equity firms, investment banks, lenders and law firms. “I miss the excitement of a great conference; wearing my nice clothes, early morning breakfasts, the one-on-ones, drinks with my women ‘tribe,’ and dinner at a steakhouse, even though I am a vegan,” says Amy Weisman (pictured), managing director, business development, Sterling Investment Partners. “Zoom from home, while effective, does not replace being on the road; the airport meal-on-the-run, the frustrating iPhone tracking of my Uber, the friendly handshake of a banker, and the in-person deal discussions that generate new ideas.” In some respects, it is easier to build relationships, explains Nanette Heide, partner, co-chair, private equity group, Duane Morris. “For the first time, we all have a common social thread – stay at home. Under normal circumstances, we would meet someone and look for that common thread. It is now readily apparent and an easy topic of discussion and all seem interested in sharing experiences in this stay-at-home environment. Further, meeting folks over a video conference from their home is immediately humanizing.” Emotional Quotient (EQ) is "more important than ever during trying times,” says Jeremy Holland, managing partner, origination, The Riverside Co. “It’s critical to remember that the dealmaker on other side of the (now figurative) deal table is a person, too. They have good and bad days and presumably know many people in high-risk categories, potentially even themselves. Being extra thoughtful about each interaction is important." Read our full coverage: Dealmaking under quarantine: 8 private equity and M&A pros share strategies while social distancing. The coronavirus pandemic will change the world and how we live in it profoundly, with dramatic shifts in how we gather and meet, work and learn, make products and distribute them. But exactly how the transformations will play out in the middle market is difficult to discern. Several recent reports and surveys aim to provide a sense of direction. Read the full story: Coronavirus crisis is changing everything, including private equity and M&A. Sophia Popova Summit Partners, Pavan Tripathi of Bregal Sagemount and Christine Wang of Francisco Partners were among the 10 individuals Mergers & Acquisitions named the 2019 Rising Stars of Private Equity. Who should be on our list for 2020? We have opened up the nomination process, and we are seeking individuals who are full-time private equity investors and whose best days are yet to come. These are the folks you predict will one day play a key leadership role at your PE firm – or will head up their own. New for 2020: This year, we will be taking a close look at how Rising Stars candidates are performing in the face of the Coronavirus Pandemic, how they are excelling in dealmaking while Working from Home and how they are helping portfolio companies pivot to the future New Normal. Send in nominations by Friday May 22. CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A NOMINATION DEAL NEWS New York-based Accenture (NYSE: ACN) has acquired Kates Kesler, consultant to companies on organization design. Kates Kesler, also based in New York, joins Accenture’s talent and organization/human potential practice headed by Eva Sage-Gavin. Adding Kates Kesler will help Accenture clients with the “new normal” of business during the coronavirus pandemic, Sage-Gavin says. “Many of our clients were already shifting their operating models in response to dramatic changes in their business strategies even before the Covid-19 global pandemic hit.” Live Oak Acquisition Corp., a $200 million blank check company formed for M&A deals in the financial services, industrial, business services and real estate sectors, has started trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the LOAK.U ticker symbol. The company’s CEO is Richard Hendrix, former CEO of FBR & Co., a private equity firm in Arlington, Virginia. Winston & Strawn, Jefferies, BMO Capital Markets Corp. and BTIG advised on the IPO. Wedbush Securities has made a minority investment in ETF Managers Group to expand its thematic ETF platform. The two firms had previously collaborated on thematic ETFs targeting the cannabis, cloud computing and video game technology. Gary Wedbush, CEO of Wedbush Securities, says he sees ETF technology as next-generation asset management “in the early innings of growth.” Sire Bioscience Inc., a Canadian cannabis company, is buying Fusion Nutrition Inc., a sports nutrition company with products in 800 Canadian retail stories and an online distribution network. Sire says it is looking to build on Fusion’s knowledge of the nutraceutical space to help it launch customized products at a faster pace, including a cannabidiol-infused sports supplement line. Geopointe, a geolocation software company, and LevelEleven, a performance management software company, have merged to form a new company: Ascent Cloud. Geopointe offers location capabilities to clients to help them analyze and manage their customer relationship management data; LevelEleven caters to sales and customer-facing managers. Brook and Whittle Holdings Corp., provider of shrink sleeve packaging, has acquired the Gilbreth Packaging Solutions shrink sleeve manufacturing plant in Croydon, Pennsylvania. Brook and Whittle is majority owned by private equity firm Snow Phipps Group; the new acquisition is the second add-on transaction completed by the PE firm since its initial investment in 2017. PEOPLE MOVES Jeff Carlson has been named director of technology at Pritzker Private Capital, a newly created position for a newly formed technology group. He has been director of information technology at the Pritzker-family-owned investment firm since 2014. Robin Murray and Dave Brett have been appointed to the executive committee of Adams Street Partners, a private markets investment management firm. Murray succeeds Terry Gould as head of growth equity investments, who will retire in 2021. Kevin Coyne has been named CEO of Summit Broadband, a fiber-optics telecommunications provider in Central and Southwest Florida. Summit is a portfolio company of Grain Management, a Washington, D.C.-based investment firm. Coyne was formerly as FiberLight, where he was a founding member and chief operating officer. CORONAVIRUS IMPACT The Federal Reserve has taken unprecedented actions to stabilize U.S. financial markets and keep credit flowing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. On March 3 it announced its first emergency interest rate cut since the 2007-2009 financial crisis; it further slashed the federal funds rate to zero on March 15 while at the same time urging banks to lend via the discount window. It also used its emergency lending powers under the Federal Reserve Act to prepare credit facilities to rescue flailing markets, something it had not done since the financial crisis. Over a decade ago, the Fed created six credit facilities and used its emergency lending powers to provide financial assistance to AIG, Bear Stearns, Citigroup and Bank of America. In less than two months this year, the Fed has announced 11 different credit facilities, all intended to support the flow of credit to households and businesses that may have encountered financial difficulties as a result of the coronavirus. Read the full story: Cheat sheet: 8 ways Fed is using emergency powers to counter pandemic Volkswagen, Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM), General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) and Daimler have recently shut down plants, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Volkswagen has canceled its full-year forecast because of the shutdown. J.D. Power expects U.S. auto sales this year to fall between 12.5 and 14.5 million vehicles, a decrease from around 16.5 million to 17 million cars and trucks before the coronavirus outbreak. Meanwhile other businesses are looking to restructure, as car sales drop. For example, Tata Motors Ltd., the owner of Jaguar Land Rover, plans to separate its cars business from trucks and buses, as the company seeks partners for a unit that has been hurt by the pandemic. Tata Group bought the maker of the Jaguar XE sedan and the Land Rover Discovery sport utility vehicle from Ford in 2008 for $2.3 billion. The impact is also hurting pending auto deals. And car dealerships are feeling the brunt from the slowdown in production and sales too. Read the full story: Automakers struggle with quarantine forcing people to work from home. To explore how the coronavirus is affecting the middle market, Mergers & Acquisitions interviews dealmakers from Alvarez & Marsal, Merrill Corp., M33 Growth, M-III Partners, Paul Hastings and the Riverside Co. Read our full coverage: “Brace for impact,” say private equity firms to portfolio companies about the coronavirus. The coronavirus pandemic has already quashed a number of previously announced deals, including Xerox’s hostile takeover bid for HP. More deals are expected to fail, as companies focus on preserving cash and ensuring debt access just to make it through the challenging economic cycle. The auto, retail, restaurant, travel and manufacturing sectors have been particularly hit hard, as they face declining sales and location closures. Automotive manufacturers are restructuring their businesses, and car dealerships are seeing fewer people walk in the door. For more, read our full coverage: 5 derailed deals: HP, TGI Fridays among those losing buyers during coronavirus crisis. Deal structures are changing, especially in terms of what happens after a deal is completed. Read our story: How to manage post-closing disputes in M&A as a result of the coronavirus. Covid-19 is forcing M&A practitioners to assess appropriate risk allocation mechanisms to address the impact of the virus on global business operations, including Representations and Warranties Insurance (RWI). Read the guest article: How the coronavirus forces dealmakers to assess effectiveness of RWI policies. As consumer spending and business investment is declining, we expect a slowdown in private equity transaction volume. Read the story: Private equity deals will slow down, as global economy stalls amid coronavirus pandemic. For more on how to cope with these challenging times, see: Coronavirus contingency planning checklist for the middle market. FEATURED CONTENT In the challenging times we face now, it’s more important than ever to come together as a community and recognize the people and companies that excel and lead. We invite you to join us in honoring the 2019 winners of Mergers & Acquisitions’ M&A Mid-Market Awards. In contrast with the volatile coronavirus-driven conditions unfolding in 2020, the dealmaking environment of 2019 was remarkably stable. Among the PE firms benefitting from the auspicious fundraising climate was Vista Private Equity, which raised a $16 billion fund – the largest technology-focused PE fund ever raised. Mergers & Acquisitions is honoring Vista founder and CEO Robert F. Smith with our 2019 Dealmaker of the Year award. In addition to leading his firm’s unprecedented fundraising, Smith excelled in philanthropy. When he spoke at the commencement of Morehouse College, he announced he would pay off all the student loans of the HBCU’s 2019 graduates, providing a helping hand in the student debt crisis facing many U.S. families. The financial services sector saw a lot of consolidation in 2019. Piper Jaffray wins our 2019 Deal of the Year for buying Sandler O’Neill to form Piper Sandler, which instantly became a leading investment bank in the financial services sector. And Stifel wins our 2019 Investment Bank of the Year for growing dramatically and making several acquisitions. Read our full awards coverage: Meet the winners of Mergers & Acquisitions’ M&A Mid-Market Awards. Once venture capital-backed startups themselves, today’s tech giants know a thing or two about VC seed money. It’s fitting that many of them have created corporate venture capital groups of their own. These CVCs help their owners experiment and nurture new technologies and ideas in the early stages, without requiring the commitment of an acquisition. The CVC strategy often augments a company’s research and development efforts as well as complementing its M&A strategy. Middle-market dealmakers would be wise to track the VC investments of the five companies we highlight: Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Inc. (NYSE: CRM. Read our full coverage: Venture forth: How five of the biggest tech companies explore new territory through early-stage investments. In a period of accelerating technology innovation and investment, it’s critical to stay aware of new technologies, offerings, data and analytics types and business models in your space, and adjacent spaces. Most companies are looking for ways to get better and earlier access to the startup space. While corporate venture capital (CVC) is only one method, it can be a fairly powerful one. Read full coverage: How corporations can benefit from VC investments in technology Houlihan Lokey, Lincoln International, Jefferies Financial Group, William Blair and Piper Sandler Cos. rank as the top five most active M&A investment banks in 2019, based on the volume of completed private equity-backed deals in the U.S., according to PitchBook. Besides advising on M&A deals, the investment banks on the top 10 list also had a busy year with acquisitions of their own in 2019, including two acquisitions by Houlihan Lokey and three by Stifel Financial. Piper Sandler Cos., was created when Minneapolis-based Piper Jaffray Cos. acquired New York-based Sandler O’Neill & Partners in a deal representing more than half of Piper Jaffray’s $930 million market capitalization. The firm also had another acquisition in 2019 and sold a company to exit the traditional asset management business. See our full coverage: Top investment banks for PE-backed deals in 2019: Houlihan Lokey led the pack. Audax, HarbourVest and Genstar ranked as the top three most active private equity firms in 2019, based on the volume of completed deals in the U.S., according to PitchBook. Three companies tied for fourth place: Abry, Carlyle and Shore Capital. Where were these PE firms looking for deals? Eight of the firms on our list name the software and technology sector among their top investment targets, and seven put healthcare companies on their priority list. Financial services and consumer services are each named by five of the firms as industries they focus on, with four naming business services companies. Fundraising from investors in 2019 led to two notable fund launches earlier in 2020: KKR’s Global Impact Fund and HarbourVest’s $2.6 billion HarbourVest Fund XI. See our full coverage: Top private equity firms in U.S. deals in 2019: Audax Private Equity ranked No. 1. To celebrate deals, dealmakers and dealmaking firms, Mergers & Acquisitions produces three special reports every year: the M&A Mid-Market Awards; the Rising Stars of Private Equity; and the Most Influenital Women in Mid-Market M&A. For an overview of what we're looking for in each project, including timelines, see Special reports overview: M&A Mid-Market Awards, Rising Stars, Most Influential Women.