The Alliance of Merger & Acquisition Advisors' (AM&AA) Summer Conference in Chicago July 7-9 promises to bring together more than 500 M&A professionals focused on the lower middle market.

"The summer conference this year is all about how to differentiate yourself in a hyper-competitive market," says conference chair Justin Kaplan, a partner at Balance Point Capital Partners. "There’s a lot of debt and equity money chasing deals, and a number of attendees are interested in networking as well as attending panels to get a leg up on rival firms."

Investment bankers, intermediaries, private equity firms, corporate investors, lenders, accountants, consultants and attorneys are all expected to show up at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile for the three-day event, which will kick off on July 7 with a keynote address from U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY).

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (pictured) is also expected to deliver a keynote address on July 8. "Given his background in banking, Rahm will be a great speaker to comment on some of the political winds within the lower middle market," Kaplan adds.

In 1998, Emanuel resigned from his adviser role in President Bill Clinton’s administration and joined the Chicago office of investment bank Wasserstein Perella, where he worked until 2002. During this time, he advised on various deals, including the merger of Peco Energy Co. and Commonwealth Edison as well as the sale of SBC Communications' SecurityLink home security unit to private equity firm GTCR LLC, which at the time was doing business as GTCR Golder Rauner.

GTCR, which won Mergers & Acquisitions’ 2013 M&A Mid-Market Award for Private Equity Firm of the Year, is one of many middle-market firms that call Chicago home. William Blair and Lincoln International, both past winners of our Investment Bank of the Year award, also are headquartered in Chicago. 

Piranha Pool

AM&AA will once again feature the Piranha Pool at this year's event. Inspired by ABC's Shark Tank, the program allow companies the opportunity to pitch their deals in front of a panel of judges with cash to potentially invest. The panel — including Evolution Capital Partners managing partner Jeff Kadlic, Post Capital managing director Michael Pfeffer and Doeren Mayhew director Steven Silverman — will provide feedback on the pitches.

In addition to networking sessions, the AM&AA will showcase a slew of panel discussions to address issues affecting the lower middle market, such as "The Changing Landscape of the Debt Markets," moderated by Kaplan, as well as "Generate the Right Deal Flow," moderated by Mergers & Acquisitions' 2014 Dealmaker of the Year winner Gretchen Perkins, a partner at Huron Capital.

Other moderators include John Lanier, partner, Excellere Partners; Shawn Ely, director of business development at Edgewater Funds; and Thomas Landstreet, chief executive of Standard Research Corp.



More details on a handful of sessions and special events featured at AM&AA's Summer Conference.

Tuesday, July 7

* Transition Planning and Transaction Execution- Preparing for the Transaction - With the abundance of capital in the market, this workshop is aimed at the companies that are not yet ready to go to market. The session aims to teach people how to improve a company's profitability and increase market value.

* Keynote Presentation– Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY).

Wednesday, July 8

* Washington Update: Campaign for Clarity  

* Lunch Keynote– Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

* Independent Sponsors– Why Let Them Into the Tent? – Moderated by Richard Baum, founder, Consumer Growth Partners

* Piranha Pool- Companies will pitch ideas to a panel of judges and receive feedback

* House of Blues Social/Networking Event

Thursday, July 24

* Keynote Presentation– Bo Burlingham, Editor-at-Large, Inc. Magazine:  What You Need to Know About Your Future Customers & Acquirees

* Deal Bash- Investment bankers will set up tables to showcase their areas of expertise and connect with other dealmakers about transactions they may be working on or seeking.

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