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Hub to host competing buyout conferences

The city of Boston finds itself a mecca for business buyout executives this spring, with two conferences hosting hundreds of dealmakers, investors, and speakers at competing events.

This week, a who’s-who of the leveraged buyout world has gathered at the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center for three days. “Buyouts East,” hosted by Thomson Reuters, wraps up Friday. Its program of seminars and panels has included executives from Wall Street firms, Boston’s Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners, and prominent investors like Harvard University endowment chief Jane Mendillo.

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The Boston venue is a departure for the Thomson Reuters conference, which typically takes place in Manhattan. And that’s something of a thorn in the side for the managers of another big buyout confab coming to town in early June: SuperReturn U.S. 2013.

“We run the better event,’’ says Stephen Ashiotis, senior marketing manager for the company that runs SuperReturn, in an e-mail from London. His firm, The International Centre for Business Information, launched the Boston event in 2008 and runs similar buyout conventions around the world.

People pay big bucks to attend these conferences — $2,495 a head at the Reuters conference. That’s a bargain compared with SuperReturn, which is charging $5,298 for its four-day package in Boston, and $4,199 for three days.

Executives, or at least their firms, are willing to shell out this money for the purported schmoozing opportunities the events provide.

Reuters, for instance, says it hosted over 750 senior private equity executives last year, plus more than 160 investors. Some 240 private meetings were arranged between investors and buyout executives, lenders, and investment bankers, the group says.

In its online brochure for the event, Reuters claims, “Get a month’s worth of fund-raising, deal financing, and deal sourcing networking done at one time.”

SuperReturn also will be held on the waterfront this year, at the Renaissance Boston hotel, from June 3-6. Its lineup has a more international feel, but the event also includes partners from Bain, Boston’s Summit Partners, and the likes of Blackstone Group and Cerberus Capital Management.

While the speeches generally focus on deep-in-the-weeds subjects like deal structures and how to get out of a bad fund, SuperReturn is mixing it up with one special guest: Eric Maddox, the military interrogator and author, will talk about his role in the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Beth Healy can be reached at bhealy@globe.com.
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