News briefs, July 30, 2007

VC pros meet with Congress

Members of the National Venture Capital Association met with the U.S. Congress’s House Medical Technology Caucus last week to discuss public policy in life sciences, such as improving the drug approval process.

The NVCA called for an expanded, ombudsman role for the Council on Technology and Innovation, better process descriptions, and more explicit timeframes for decisions. The NVCA also recommended that devices that are undergoing expedited reviews at the FDA should be granted simultaneous review at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

“Venture capitalists are investing in the next wave of medical breakthroughs. It is critical that we improve and accelerate the path of these novel technologies so that the most innovative treatments can be delivered to the American people as efficiently as possible,” Jack Lasersohn, partner of The Vertical Group and one of the NVCA members who met with the U.S. Congress.

Buyout boom over, Gross says

Bond fund manager Bill Gross, of Newport Beach, Calif.-based Pacific Investment Management Co., says that the buyout boom is coming to an end, because the era of cheap debt is over. “The tide appears to be going out for levered equity financiers and in for the passive owl money managers of the debt market,” Gross, chief investment officer of Pimco, wrote in his commentary on the company’s Web site. The shift “promises to have severe ramifications for those caught in its wake.”

His comments come as investors balk at buying the riskiest bond offerings to finance deals. Their resistance has increased borrowing costs.

Thiel creats buzz, Facebook still not sold

Peter Thiel

, a partner at The Founders Fund and a director of Facebook said in an interview with TheDeal.com that despite having serious talks with Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo Inc. about an acquisition during the past year, Facebook has better things to do than listen to low offers from potential acquirers.

Thiel, who invested $500,000 in the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Facebook’s first funding round in 2004, also speculates that the company will not launch an IPO until 2009.

“Either they’re (Yahoo) underestimating it or we’re overestimating it, but given the disconnect, it would be a complete waste of time for the company to be talking with people,” he said.

Court penalizes BofA in Piedmont case

A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge has imposed sanctions on Banc of America to force it to turn over $150,000 in bank accounts, owned by managers for Piedmont Venture Partners, to the venture firm’s trustee, according to the Charlotte Business Journal. Piedmont was a Charlotte, N.C.-based venture firm founded in 1996. It raised about $45 million over three funds to invest in early stage tech companies. but it went bust in 2000 and it filed for bankruptcy in 2005.