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The firm has been fundraising since March and has a goal of $200 million, according to sources. Avante co-founder Jeri Harman won't comment. But the firm's Web site says its investment targets are profitable, lower-middle market companies with defensible niches -- companies in business services, healthcare, consumer staples, security, aerospace/defense, light industrial, life sciences and other industries that generate at least $3 million in trailing EBITDA. Avante plans to invest $5 million to $15 million in equity and subordinated debt. Avante is a rarity -- a women-owned private equity firm (2/3 of the partners are women) -- and its founders are especially interested in investing in other women- and minority-owned businesses.
The court's hearing was on the constitutionality of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, which was created by Congress as part of Sarbanes-Oxley to audit public companies in the wake of the dot-com financial scandals. The board is controlled by the SEC, but the plaintiffs in this case say it should be controlled by the President. Why should you care? If the Justices agree that the board is unconstitutional (decision expected in June), Sarbanes-Oxley may be scaled back. Many investors worried about taking small companies public would be very happy about that. Here's the transcript (courtesy of the Footnoted blog). Enjoy.
This is from the lawyers at Covington & Burling, who say they expect to see a final rule from the SEC restricting how investment advisers can influence contracts with public pension plans around the middle of next year. This would be just a few months before the 2010 elections, when campaigns are underway and investment advisors and their associates are already volunteering and raising money for candidates, creating all sorts of potential for conflicts of interest. "It will stir the pot," says Covington's Rob Kelner.
Fenwick & West's Silicon Valley venture capital survey finds that up rounds exceeded down rounds last quarter for the first time this year -- 41% of rounds were up, 36% down and 23% flat. Of the companies taking new funding rounds, share prices were up by an average of 11%. The firm looked at 103 high tech and life sciences companies in the Bay Area that raised money last quarter and believes the data shows a ray of hope for venture capital. Here it is:
Cambridge Associates today released research showing that private equity and venture capital investments improved in Q2, after three straight quarters of shrinkage. On the downside (depending on your perspective), several public market indices performed better. Private returns still look better over the long term, growing, growing faster than all public markets for three years out and older. Also, capital calls to LPs during second quarter exceeded distributions. "New investments have required more equity than those made in recent years due to tight credit markets," said the report, which you can view after the jump...
... and 2007. Dow Jones and Thomson Reuters agree on this one -- although venture investments in cleantech have been climbing this year, they're down anywhere from 4% (Thomson Reuters) to nearly 39% (Dow Jones) compared to a year ago. Dow Jones tracks funding commitments, while Thomson Reuters tracks checks written. Like last year, solar got the most money, although that number has dropped by over 2/3 -- from $990 million (a little over the entire amount invested in clean tech third quarter) to $309 million. Also, 2/3 of that $309 million was in one deal -- Solyndra, which makes photovoltaic solar panels for businesses. The full break-down is below. Dow Jones reported $965 million invested in 50 deals by venture capital, private equity, corporate venture and at least one sovereign wealth fund.
On Monday, Energy Secretary Chu announced $151 million in grants for 37 early stage clean tech projects in 17 states -- several of them venture-backed. Chu made the announcement at Google in Mountain View, where he was interviewed on-stage by Google CEO Eric Schmidt. He also took a few questions from Google employees. Some of the questions were a bit esoteric, but it's worth listening to what Chu has to say about how he thinks the U.S. is going to switch to clean tech ("the scale of what has to be done is staggering"), what some of the obstacles are, and which technologies he thinks have promise. I've been looking for this video for two days and finally found it here, at ABC 7 News in San Francisco. Enjoy.
The Southern California angel group will announce an alliance with Intesa Sao Paolo, Italy's largest bank, and is starting a new angel network based in Milan, peHUB has learned. Maverick president John Dilts, who founded Maverick three years ago after leaving the Keiretsu Forum, said Maverick has been looking for ways to partner with large corporations that want faster access to startups, and the alliance with the bank should help. A lot of corporate venture arms got burned in the tech bubble and pulled back on investing in startups, he said, and now they've fallen behind.
Check out the federal complaint for insider trading against hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam of Galleon Management and several other people, including some of my Silicon Valley neighbors. Rajiv Goel, managing director at Intel Capital, has been charged in this case, as has Anil Kumar, director at McKinsey; Robert Moffatt, senior vice president at IBM; and Danielle Chiesi and Mark Kurland at New Castle hedge fund. They allegedly swapped and traded on insider information about Google, Intel, Clearwire, AMD, Akamai, IBM, Sun and several other companies
Almost no CEOs of emerging companies are planning to take them public, according to a survey by Foley & Lardner, and over 80% predict a stagnant IPO market for the next two years. (The law firm surveyed 230 people who either attended its bicoastal Emerging Technologies Conference in September or answered its invitation to be surveyed on Twitter). Not only are more executives planning to sell their companies, but more are accelerating the timing of a sale, a move that Foley attributes to their need for "survival capital."

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