Investment Banking Firm Cassel Salpeter & Co. Names Joseph “Joey” Smith Director

Joseph “Joey” Smith joins Cassel Salpeter & Co. as Director. He brings more than 20 years of middle-market investment banking experience and will foster new client relationships and integrate advisory services into existing relationships.

MIAMI — November 30, 2011  Cassel Salpeter & Co., LLC, a rapidly growing independent investment banking firm, recently hired Joseph “Joey” Smith to its professional staff in the role of Director. He brings more than 20 years of middle-market investment banking experience to the firm.

“Mr. Smith’s career spans over two decades and has given him hands-on experience working in the capital markets and the securities industry on an international scale,” said James Cassel, the company’s chairman and co-founder. “We’re looking forward to Joey fostering new client relationships, integrating our advisory services into existing relationships, and continuing to work with institutional quality, lower middle-market private and public companies on capital raising and sell-side engagements.”

Mr. Smith most recently held the position of senior vice president at Catalyst Financial and was previously a principal and head of investment banking for Capital City Partners and a principal and managing director for First Equity Corporation of Florida. Over the course of his investment banking career, he has worked with middle-market and small cap companies along with institutional investors, family offices, advisors, intermediaries, and high net worth investors.

About Cassel Salpeter & Co., LLC

Cassel Salpeter & Co., LLC is a middle market investment bank focused on providing independent and objective advice to middle market and emerging growth companies.   Our investment banking and advisory services include broad capabilities for both private and public companies: Mergers and Acquisitions; Restructurings, including 363 Sales and Plans of Reorganization; Equity and Debt Capital Raises; Fairness and Solvency Opinions; Valuations; and Financial and Strategic Advisory.

Our senior partners are personally involved at every stage of all assignments.  Our success is based on unbiased advice; understanding each client’s business objectives; providing value added services; and our extensive relationships and expertise.  We have forged relationships and executed transactions nationally and internationally.

Headquartered in Miami, Florida, Cassel Salpeter is led by James Cassel and Scott Salpeter. Member FINRA and SIPC.

Buyout Firms Expand and Prosper in Florida’s Environment

By: James Cassel

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MIAMI, Florida, November 20, 2011 – Leveraged buyout firms, private equity firms — call them what you want — these companies have dug their heels into the South Florida sand. Certainly, 2011 has seen volatile market swings, and the general state of the economy pretty much stinks. Nevertheless, South Florida has attracted a growing roster of private equity firms that have identified our turf as fertile ground for their operations, and that means more options for Florida-based companies contemplating a sale or recapitalization.

Buyout firms raise capital from deep-pocketed investors — or leverage their capital — using equity along with borrowings to purchase or invest in companies that have the potential for growth. In addition to these companies with growth potential, buyout firms are looking for undervalued or underperforming companies, businesses with strategic value to other companies in a firm’s portfolio, or companies in financial distress or bankruptcy. Many of these companies are capital constrained.

After a firm purchases a company, it may rely on existing management or regime change (new management) to grow the company and ultimately sell it for a profit, typically after a period of five to seven years. The profits get distributed back to the investors, and a portion, along with a management fee, goes to the private equity firm itself.

South Florida’s oldest private equity firm, Trivest Partners, has operated here since the 1980s and has handled high-profile transactions such as Aerobed, Banana Boat and Polk Audio. It also has the good company of other legacy firms based in South Florida including HIG Capital, Brockway Moran, Sun Capital, ComVest, Palm Beach Capital, Pine Tree Equity Partners and Boyne Capital Partners. Newcomers to South Florida include Empire and Huntsman Gay, to name a couple.

What brings private equity firms to South Florida? As simple as it may sound, many come here for the same reason as tourists and snowbirds — the lifestyle! Come January, it’s a heck of lot nicer to do a deal on the beach than on Wall Street. The strategic value of our location means private equity firms can attract sun-starved talent from the northeast as well as investors who enjoy a yearly meeting in the subtropics. Since most travel regularly, a good hub airport is a must.

There are solid financial reasons as well — the tax benefits. Florida’s low corporate income tax and absence of state individual income tax are notable draws. Plus, Florida has many entrepreneurs, a magnet for private equity firms operating in the state.

Perhaps most significant is that Florida — and South Florida in particular — has grown up. South Florida has a growing finance community. As the fourth-largest state in the nation, and with a more sophisticated international business community, private equity firms have come to recognize that South Florida is a viable alternative to New York, Boston and California.

Whether your business has revenue of a few million dollars or over a hundred million dollars, it’s good for you to have an army of eligible buyers right outside your door. Business owners no longer have to travel to New York to find someone high-profile to sell to or to recapitalize.

This applies to distressed companies as well. Sun Capital and HIG have been two of the most active buyers of distressed and healthy companies in North America and Europe over the last few years.

There are other firms with established specialties, such as MBF Healthcare Partners, which focuses on investments in healthcare, and Trivest, which specializes in family-owned businesses. Firms have honed their expertise to suit particular segments of the Florida business landscape.

Entrepreneurs can benefit from this enhanced investment activity. Venture capital is available to high-risk and early-stage companies.

During the first two quarters of 2011, businesses in Florida had more funding opportunities. We saw increased investments in small and mid-size businesses, increased inquiries from business owners seeking to acquire firms, and, best of all, increased buzz.

We anticipate merger and acquisition activity in 2012 to expand to a wider range of companies, with many deals involving private equity firms. Specifically, we will see more acquisitions in industries like technology, healthcare, distribution and manufacturing.

The growth of buyout firms in Florida spills over into lots of other industries, including sectors like my own, investment banking. We also see commercial lenders, the legal community, and the accounting industry benefiting from the increased deal activity these private equity firms generate.

If you’re a business owner, watch what’s happening here — what businesses are being bought and sold, who’s joining forces, and what new firms form. Private equity firms in Florida made national headlines and drove a lot of attention our way this year, and they are poised to continue to do so. Also, keep in mind middle-market firms, distressed companies, and family-owned businesses are the specialties of several Florida firms.

And if you are in the market to sell right now and want to get the best deal, try the direct approach by calling a firm directly or getting an introduction from a law firm. When trying to sell or raise capital, don’t forget that competition is good — it generally gets you better terms or a better price.

James Cassel, an investment banker and co-founder and chairman of Cassel Salpeter & Co., specializes in mergers, acquisitions and divestitures; corporate finance; and public offerings. His column runs monthly.

Bluegreen Corporation Signs Definitive Merger Agreement with BFC Financial Corporation

BOCA RATON, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Bluegreen Corporation (NYSE: BXG) (“Bluegreen” or “the Company”)today announced that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement with BFC Financial Corporation (“BFC”) (Pink Sheets: BFCF.PK) which provides for a merger that will, subject to the terms and conditions of the agreement, result in Bluegreen becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of BFC.

Under the terms of the agreement, which has been approved by a special committee comprised of Bluegreen’s independent directors as well as the boards of directors of both companies, holders of Bluegreen’s Common Stock (other than BFC) will be entitled to receive eight shares of BFC’s Class A Common Stock for each share of Bluegreen’s Common Stock they hold at the effective time of the merger. BFC currently owns approximately 52% of Bluegreen’s Common Stock.

The consummation of the merger is subject to a number of closing conditions, including the approval of both Bluegreen’s and BFC’s shareholders and the listing of BFC’s Class A Common Stock on a national securities exchange at the effective time of the merger. The merger agreement provides for all six of the directors of Bluegreen who are not also directors of BFC to be appointed to BFC’s board of directors at the effective time of the merger. The merger agreement also contains other representations, warranties and covenants on the part of BFC and Bluegreen which are believed to be customary for transactions of this type. The companies currently expect to consummate the merger in the first half of 2012.

BFC is a diversified holding company whose principal holdings include a controlling interest in BankAtlantic Bancorp, Inc. (NYSE: BBX), a controlling interest in Bluegreen, and a non-controlling interest in Benihana, Inc. (NASDAQ: BNHN). BFC and their affiliates have been Bluegreen shareholders since 2002 and Alan B. Levan and John E. Abdo, who have held the positions of Chairman and Vice Chairman of BFC, have held the positions of Chairman and Vice Chairman of Bluegreen since 2002.

John M. Maloney Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer of Bluegreen, commented, “We have had a close and beneficial relationship with BFC since April 2002, and the merger will not have any material impact on Bluegreen’s day-to-day operations. Bluegreen will continue to provide the same high levels of service, attention, and quality that have helped drive our growth and evolution to date. Above all else, we are dedicated to providing vacation experiences, marketing and resort management services that rank among the best in our industry.”

Cassel Salpeter & Co., LLC acted as financial advisor to the special committee of Bluegreen’s board of directors.

Additional Information and Where to Find it:

BFC will file with the SEC a registration statement on Form S-4, in which a joint proxy statement/prospectus concerning the merger will be included. The joint proxy statement/prospectus will be sent to the shareholders of BFC and Bluegreen, who are advised to read the joint proxy statement/prospectus when it is finalized and distributed because it will contain important information. Shareholders of BFC and Bluegreen will be able to obtain a copy of the joint proxy statement/prospectus and other relevant documents filed with the SEC free-of-charge from the SEC’s web site at or by directing a request by mail to BFC Corporate Secretary, 2100 West Cypress Creek Road, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33309, or by calling 954-940-4900.

BFC, Bluegreen and certain of their directors and executive officers may, under the rules of the SEC, be deemed to be “participants” in the solicitation of proxies from shareholders in connection with the merger. Information concerning the interests of the persons who may be considered “participants” in the solicitation as well as additional information concerning BFC’s and Bluegreen’s directors and executive officers will be set forth in the joint proxy statement/prospectus relating to the merger. Information concerning BFC’s and Bluegreen’s directors and executive officers is also set forth in their respective filings with the SEC.

This communication does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities, nor shall there be any sale of such securities, in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to appropriate registration or qualification under the securities laws of such jurisdiction.


Founded in 1966 and headquartered in Boca Raton, FL, Bluegreen Corporation (NYSE:BXG) is a leading timeshare sales, marketing and resort management company. Bluegreen Resorts manages, markets and sells the Bluegreen Vacation Club, a flexible, points-based, deeded vacation ownership plan with more than 160,000 owners, over 57 owned or managed resorts, and access to more than 4,000 resorts worldwide. Bluegreen also offers a portfolio of comprehensive, turnkey, fee-based service resort management, financial services, and sales and marketing on behalf of third parties. For more information,

Matters discussed in this press release contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These forward-looking statements are based on various assumptions and involve substantial risks and uncertainties, including, without limitation, those relating to the merger, the potential benefits of the merger and the risk that the merger may not be consummated in accordance with the contemplated terms, including in the contemplated timeframe, or at all. These risks and uncertainties are not exclusive, and shareholders are referred to the other risks and uncertainties detailed in reports filed by Bluegreen with the SEC.

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