Going Public

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Initial public offerings, or IPOs, don’t often happen in Southwest Florida, but that didn’t stop corporate law attorney Laura Holm from relocating to Naples in 2014. She sees it as a spot to grow professionally and a base for working with clients in other cities and states.

Holm represents public and emerging growth companies in corporate transactions, such as public and private offerings of securities, and compliance programs. She says streamlined SEC rules make it easier for companies to go public and solicit investors.

The University of Chicago Law School graduate, who worked previously in Fort Lauderdale, is head of the business law practice group at the Naples office of Quarles & Brady.

What has been your experience in Southwest Florida?

I have been coming to Naples for the last 10 years because there’s a really good venture capital community here. Quarles & Brady found there was so much corporate work they wanted to have a corporate lawyer with experience. Approximately 70 percent of my work is with local people. I do a lot of national projects, too, but there’s a very vibrant business community here.

Do you have clients considering public offerings?

We have two clients who are considering public offerings. The market has been a little volatile. Timing is important. More people are thinking about it, just because the process has become a lot easier. [Now] you can file the registration statement confidentially. No one knows you’re going public.

[Before], you would file it and people would say, “Oh, you’re going public.” There would be a lot of pressure on management. Now, you go through SEC process. If there are issues, you can get them resolved privately. You do have to file it publicly before you price the deal. But it gives you a little bit of privacy.

Are you working with local clients?

Florida-based clients, yes. One is in Tampa [a technology infrastructure company]. I have a few in Fort Lauderdale and the Boca Raton area. I did a public offering recently with a stage 3 biotech firm [in Texas], which was very successful. I have a private client in Atlanta.

What kind of availability do you see at this point in venture capital funding?

What stood out to me [through past involvement in the Gulf Coast Venture Forum] is how much money there is in Naples, and people are willing to invest in deals. There’s also an angel investment fund [Tamiami Angel Funds] here. I’ll meet someone who has gotten $2 million from his neighbor, a million from his family. So they have some capital to run the business and they’re thinking about growing it, but in the next stage they want to do the private offering and maybe get $10 million to $15 million. GB




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