Need to Meet: James Cassel, Chairman and Co-Founder, Cassel Salpeter & Co

Cassel Salpeter & Co, which focuses on enterprise values of $10 million to $250 million, has been handling a brisk pace of M&A deals, capital-raising, writing valuations, fairness & solvency opinions, and restructurings.

“We’re busier than we were a year ago,” Cassel said. “There seems to be a group of family-owned businesses that for the last four or five years have sat on the sidelines, thinking things would get better. And they were right. They were thinking they would have better EBITDA. And they were right. They’re now saying, ‘Is now really the time to do something?’ Some think it is and some think it’s not. But more of them are going to market.”

Deal-making has been encouraged by a large amount of capital that needs to be deployed by senior lenders, private equity firms and others. Plus interest rates remain historically low, Cassel said.

“The Fed may raise rates as soon as June, but I don’t think 25 or 50 basis points will chill deals,” he said. “It may be a wake up call for some who are sitting on the sidelines.”

Starting out as a corporate lawyer, Cassel co-founded investment bank iCapitalink, which was acquired by Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. He worked as vice chairman and head of investment banking for Ladenburg Thalmann before launching Cassel Salpeter & Co in 2010 with Scott Salpeter, president and co-founder of the firm.

The firm’s private equity clients include Brockway MoranComvest Partners, H.I.G. CapitalOch-Ziff Capital Management and Trivest Partners, among others.

Cassel leans on his legal background and investment banking deal-making to wade into more complex deals, such as the Chapter 11 sale of DynaVox to Tobii Technology AB last year. When DynaVox went public in 2010, it had backing from Vestar Capital Partners and Park Avenue Equity Partners.

Cassel Salpeter & Co attracted interest from three strong bidders, with Tobii Technology paying a high enough price to pay secured lenders and unsecured creditors 100 cents on the dollar.

“There was a good market for the company in a short period of time — that’s interesting,” Cassel said. “An asset that makes sense to a strategic buyer will get a good price.”

Phone: 305-438-7700



By Steve Gelsi