Tampa Bay Business Journal: September 5, 2014

TAMPA - In this week's Tampa Bay Business Journal segment, editor Alexis Muellner discusses why Tampa's mergers and acquisitions market is heating up, the importance of international flights to the region, and the group vying to design the new St. Pete Pier.

The Business Journal recently convened a roundtable to discuss the growth in mergers and acquisitions involving Tampa Bay area companies.

One recent sale involved Health Insurance Innovations. The Tampa-based company purchased of HealthPocket of Sunnyvale, Calif., on July 14 for $32 million.

Many times the sales involve a company from outside the United States.

"There rarely is a Tampa group buying a Tampa company," said Curt Creely, partner at Foley & Lardner in Tampa. "A lot of times it's a foreign country that they're located - either as a buyer or a seller."

Muellner says upsurge in transactions is due to the ease of sharing documents and communicating across the world, the expansion of lending to businesses, and the increase of international flights available at Tampa International Airport.

The latter is also a factor in the why Tampa is expanding globally as a place to do business.

Just ten years ago the only British Airways was the only company offering long-distance flights out of TIA. You had to go to Orlando or Miami to flight internationally.

Now British Airways, Cayman Airways, Copa Airlines and Edelweiss Air are among the airliners offering international service at TIA. In June, more than 40,000 international passengers flew into and out of Tampa.

People in power to make decisions for the airport realized that by bringing in more international flights they would help grow the local economy in new ways.

Friday is the deadline for architectural firms to apply to enter the competition to design a new St. Pete Pier.

Salvador Dali Museum co-designer Yann Weymouth is teaming up with Wannemacher Jensen and Harvard Jolly to form the St. Pete Design Group. They say they intend to file a Pier design application.

The next step for St. Petersburg is to review all the firms that submitted a valid application. The Pier Working Group will then narrow the list. Each design team on the shortlist will receive $30,000 to submit an initial design concept.

Their concepts will be reviewed by the Working Group and the public. City officials anticipate approving one team's final plan early next year.

For more information on these stories, click on the video player, go to youtube.com/watch?v=HAXVU1NOALE or pick up this week's Tampa Bay Business Journal available on newsstands.

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