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New law firm in town eyes M&A practice

Bill Curtin
Bill CurtinChris Morris for The Boston Globe

Ropes & Gray and Goodwin might want to watch their backs. There’s a big out-of-state law firm moving into town.

Last year, Hogan Lovells set up shop here through a merger with Collora, a relatively small Boston firm with about 25 attorneys focused on litigation.

Turns out, that’s just the start.

Bill Curtin, the global head of mergers and acquisitions at Hogan Lovells, says he hopes to establish an M&A practice in Boston by the end of the year. It’s too soon to know whether this will be done through another merger or by selectively hiring key people.

Curtin says his firm’s M&A work in town will be focused on two key sectors in Boston’s economy: technology and life sciences.


“Those are two places where we have clients who are in the region,” Curtin says. “[They are] sectors that draw upon our strengths but are also growing sectors.”

It’s a particularly good time for M&A lawyers, because conglomerates are doing plenty of deals as they look to reshape themselves, often by slimming down. General Electric, a Hogan Lovells client, is a good example. Under CEO John Flannery, Boston-based GE is considering as much as $20 billion worth of divestitures. (Hogan Lovells CEO Steve Immelt is the brother of former GE chief Jeff Immelt.)

“Some of these Fortune 50 multinational conglomerates, they’re . . . finding it imperative to transform themselves,” Curtin says. “Their deals look a little bit different. They’ll be pursuing divestitures to shed noncore assets. At the same time, they’re looking to pick up talent and technology that they think is either too expensive or takes too long to develop [internally].”

So when will Hogan Lovells make its next move in its Boston expansion efforts? Curtin is leaving us guessing.

“We don’t put ourselves in a position of saying we have to have such and such number [of lawyers] by a certain date,” Curtin says. “We’re going to be more focused on getting it right than just getting it done.” — JON CHESTO


Two big brokers team up

As Boston’s office market booms on, two of the biggest players in the office brokerage business are teaming up.

A 48-person team from the Boston office of Transwestern RBJ is jumping over to join CBRE, which already boasts one of the biggest brokerage shops in the city. The group, led by Transwestern’s Northeast market leader, Steve Purpura, represents a number of major buildings and tenants in Boston and Cambridge and completed 9.1 million in lease deals in Massachusetts last year.

Now they’ll join CBRE, one of the biggest office brokerage firms in the country. It represents an array of high-profile global clients — such as GE when it was looking for a new headquarters.

“It’s going to be a powerhouse locally,” Purpura says. “Combined in Boston and Cambridge we’ll have a massive amount of market share.”

Andy Hoar and Kevin Doyle will continue to lead CBRE’s New England office, and say the deal will bring them deeper expertise in the Boston office market.

“We are very excited that these market-making professionals have elected to join CBRE,” Hoar says. “We have admired them as competitors and greatly value the contributions they will make to our team and to our clients.”

The move is the latest in a string of mergers that have reshaped Boston’s commercial real estate brokerage industry in recent years as the industry has consolidated. Transwestern RBJ is the result of Houston-based Transwestern’s acquisition of the Boston firm Richards Barry Joyce & Partners in 2013. — TIM LOGAN


More deals for GateHouse

GateHouse Media narrowly lost an auction for the Boston Herald, edged out by Digital First Media, owner of the Lowell Sun. But the deal-making must continue.

GateHouse CEO Kirk Davis didn’t have to go far for the next acquisition. He lined up a deal for GateHouse to buy Holden Landmark Corp., a separately run newspaper business in Central Massachusetts that Davis has owned since 2001. That’s when he bought The Landmark, which covers Holden and several nearby towns, after he had helped build the Community Newspaper Co. group.

Davis eventually returned to the CNC papers, which Herald publisher Pat Purcell sold to GateHouse in its early days. Even as GateHouse’s empire grew, Davis always viewed Holden Landmark as a base he could expand into a much larger company at some point, he says. So he held onto it.

This year Davis decided the opportunities GateHouse could offer to Holden Landmark were substantial, and he found he wasn’t able to devote as much time as he wanted to his side project. “It was a hard decision” to sell, Davis says in an e-mail, “but the right decision given my commitment to leading GateHouse Media.”

So what’s next on Davis’s calendar? Media analyst Ken Doctor suggests GateHouse’s upcoming target is another daily, the Austin American-Statesman, which just happens to be in the Texas city where GateHouse operates its primary page-production hub. Davis declined to comment about Doctor’s prediction.


Progress on diversity

Progress Software is bringing more women into its boardroom.

The Bedford software firm’s board recently added two seats, for nine total. Both new members are women in the enterprise software field: Sam King, general manager at Veracode, and Angela Tucci, chief executive of Apto. King is based in Burlington, where Veracode was located before CA Technologies acquired it last year, while Tucci is in Colorado.

Tucci also worked for CA Technologies before joining Apto as CEO last year. And Progress Software’s chief executive, Yogesh Gupta, held various roles at CA from 1989 until 2007 — it was primarily known as Computer Associates during that time — though he didn’t overlap with Tucci.

The decision to expand the board came after Progress’s leaders faced blistering criticism last year from a shareholder, Praesidium Investment Management. Praesidium, among other things, presented its own slate of board candidates and argued that chairman Jack Egan should go. But the board stuck by Egan, and opted against picking any of Praesidium’s selections.

Gupta says he views board diversity as essential to his company’s success.

“Diversity is important to be effective,” Gupta says. “If you have a diverse board that has women on it, that has diverse backgrounds on it, those companies do better, they have better results.” — JON CHESTO

Can’t keep a secret? Tell us. E-mail Bold Types at boldtypes@globe.com.