Nanette Heide has been practicing M&A and private equity law since 2001. Previously the general counsel for Tribute International (Videosnap), she was lured away by a surging middle market for M&A.
“At that time, there was a tremendous amount of financing of young emerging companies, including rolling them on to platforms,” she recalls.
Today, as a Duane Morris partner, Heide chairs the law firm’s fashion, retail and consumer products industry groups. “As a former general counsel and CFO, I delight in leading a team to create inventive, strategic combinations,” she says about herself. “In counseling companies, I often rely on the skills I developed as part of a management team, and can readily appreciate the pressures and sensitivities of my clients in an M&A transaction.”
While M&A activity has slowed somewhat in the fashion industry, Heide and her team have remained busy. Currently, Duane Morris is representing Naked Brand Group Inc., a New York-based fashion and lifestyle brand, in its pending merger with privately held Bendon Ltd. The latter is a New Zealand-based seller of intimate apparel and swimwear, and the deal is expected to close by year-end, 2017.
But working with the C-suite to close deals is not Heide’s only passion. “My focus is to make sure I’m doing the right thing for people,” she says.
One group of people that she’s particularly focused on are the women who aspire to work in M&A and private equity. “The numbers for women in law firms has improved, but not as much as you think as they should have,” she says. “Creating a community of women dealmakers is what we have to do in this industry.”
Heide puts her money where her mouth is. A member of Duane Morris’ Women’s Impact Network for Success (WINS) steering committee, as well as its diversity and inclusion steering committee, Heide recently spurred the firm to support the Alley to the Valley (A2V) community of influential women.
A2V, which came together in 2010, consists of women in business, politics and media and aims to bring together successful women to help others achieve their business goals. Duane Morris recently hosted an A2V event of more than 40 women from the fashion and consumer industries. The participants, who included investment bankers and CFOs, discussed their challenges and shared their objectives. Heide terms it a “very powerful day,” and says a number of deals were made.
More generally, Heide encourages other women in the industry to find their passion and seek out mentors. “You have to find what makes you happy and stay committed to it,” she says. “Surround yourself with a good set of advisers, and don’t be afraid to go after them.” She advises. It’s too hard to make it on your own; you are going to make mistakes.”
Heide is also a co-founder of ACG New York’s women in private equity summit. She received both a B.A. and B.S. from West Virginia University and her law degree from Washington and Lee University School of Law.