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Membership: Member Interviews

Frank Linsalata

(Interview continued from e-mail newsletter.)

Q. What are the key challenges in the buyouts industry today?
A.

The good news is that there's easy credit. Financing is a lot easier now than it was a few years ago. There are lots of opportunities because companies are doing well again, entrepreneurs my age are looking to sell their businesses, and corporations are rationalizing and spinning off divisions. The bad news is that it's very competitive. Prices are very high again. There's a huge overhang of committed capital that hasn't been invested.
I think for firms that have been around, you can raise money. The investors are loyal. You do have to work harder to generate returns, though. It's no longer about financial engineering. You need to add operational value. With most transactions, you can only win the transaction and make the investment if you have the highest price. These days, the guy who has a small manufacturing shop is smart enough to hire an investment banker and get an auction going for his business.

Q. You recently received a dealmaker award. What was it for?
A.

We were the buyout firm of the year in Northeast Ohio. We had an outstanding year in 2004. We had three really strong exits and six significant new investments.

Q. What is best HBS-NEO event you've been to in your career?
A.

That would have to be the Global Conference a few years ago. It was fabulous for the Club and for the school and for Cleveland in general.

Q. What does the HBS-NEO club do well?
A.

It is probably one of the greatest networks a young professional can have around here. And let's face it, part of all of our careers and lives is networking. The club is great at allowing younger members to mingle with some people who are further on in their careers, and to hear some outstanding business stories.

Q. What are your extracurricular interests or passions?
A.

Education. Most of my volunteer time is spent on education. I currently am Chairman of Case Western Reserve University, which takes a huge amount of my time. I'm finishing up my 12th year as head of finance committee at Laurel School. My wife is very active at Youngstown State University. A lot of my time and my family's time is spent on education.

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