According to KPMG and others, “the boom is back.” M&A has reemerged as a leading growth strategy in the United States thanks to low interest rates, record stock prices, improving employment numbers and an abundance of cash. How can your company best prepare and execute communications strategies on its transactions, including mergers, acquisitions, IPOs and spin-offs? Hear advice from our panel of experts based on their diverse, recent and real-world experiences. We’ll talk about how to combine best practice approaches with company-specific circumstances to effectively reach, influence and engage critical stakeholder groups during sensitive events in order to protect and enhance enterprise value. We’ll also cover the critical aspects of M&A and other transaction communications – including the best practices and pitfalls of deal communication, management of different constituencies, consistent messaging across audiences, preparation for proxy votes, timelines, and much more.
Mike Steele, CFA
Vice President, Investor Relations, Office Depot, Inc.
Mike Steele became head of investor relations at Office Depot in 2014 after its merger with OfficeMax. Steele joined OfficeMax in 2007 as its director of investor relations and was promoted to senior director in 2010 and vice president in 2013. Previously, Steele served in key financial roles at several large public corporations, including mergers and acquisitions, treasury, financial planning and credit analysis. He received his bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University and MBA from Loyola University Chicago.
Vice President, Investor Relations and Treasurer, Gogo
Varvara Alva joined Gogo as its treasurer in 2008 and was promoted to treasurer and investor relations director in 2011 and vice president of investor relations and treasurer in 2013. Gogo (previously Aircell) became a public company in 2013 and is an aero-communications service provider offering in-flight Internet, entertainment, text messaging, voice and other communications services to the commercial and business aviation markets. Earlier in her career, Alva was director of corporate finance with eCollege.com and a financial analyst with Xcel Energy. She received a bachelor’s degree from Colorado Christian University, a master’s degree from St. Petersburg University of Economics and Finance, and another master’s degree in finance from the University of Colorado - Denver.
Mark D. Gerstein
Global Chair, Mergers and Acquisitions Practice, Latham & Watkins LLP
Mark Gerstein focuses on mergers and acquisitions (both in the United States and globally), corporate governance (including in the restructuring context) and takeover defense planning as global chair of the M&A practice at Latham & Watkins. He has frequently represented special committees of boards of directors, bidders and financial advisors in going-private and other conflict of interest transactions. His experience also includes advancing and defending both friendly and unsolicited tender offers, and he has similarly represented both insurgents and management in proxy contests for the control of public companies. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and JD from the University of Chicago Law School.
Moderator: Brad Wilks
Managing Director, North America Midwest Operations, MSL Group
Brad Wilks oversees MSL’s offices in Chicago and Detroit. Previously, Wilks served as managing director and head of Sard Verbinnen’s Chicago office. There, he served as a counselor to senior executives, managing important corporate issues such as restructurings and bankruptcies, proxy contests, litigation and crisis communications, product recalls and senior executive changes. Previously, he was managing director and head of the Chicago office of Ogilvy Public Relations and a senior vice president and partner at Fleishman-Hillard. Wilks has a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and a master’s degree from Ball State University.
P.O. Box 268611
Chicago, IL 60626
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