Dennis Murray is the president of Murray Devine, a financial valuation advisory firm. Headquartered in Philadelphia, Murray Devine possesses decades of experience assessing companies, ventures, and transactions in various industries. The firm has participated in and facilitated deals whose value has ranged from $10 million to over $10 billion. Private equity clients include Bain Capital, Kelso & Company, The Jordan Company, The Blackstone Group, and many others. In recognition of its work, Murray Devine has been named USA in Finance Monthly’s Valuation Firm of the Year (2015) and an M&A Advisor Awards Valuation Firm of the Year (2013). Most recently, the firm was a finalist in the 2016 ACG New York Champion’s Awards.
EDWIN WARFIELD: What started first—the vision for Murray Devine or the client base?
DENNIS MURRAY: Our client base is something that dates back to when we first started our business. We had a lot of relationships with the larger private equity funds. Our belief always was with private equity. They had much more of an entrepreneurial spirit. If they have faith in you—they feel like you’re professional and you’re going to do quality work—they’ll give you an opportunity. With that opportunity, you develop relationships. That enabled us to do the work for the larger funds back in the day—Blackstone, Bain Capital, Kelso—and they still are some of our biggest accounts today.
Q. What does the business look like today? What kinds of projects is Murray Devine typically involved in?
A. Our projects today really range from marking illiquid securities for both big public and private debt funds—that keeps us very busy—to working on a solvency opinion for a pharmaceutical company—you know, it was several hundred-million-dollar-sized project.
The state of the deal market today is such that it is very difficult to get a transaction completed. The values are at all-time highs—multiples of businesses. It’s very difficult based on the price that has to be paid, the equity that has to be invested, and the financing, to really complete a transaction and get a good return on their investment.
Q. How do you split projects between your offices in Philadelphia and New York?
A. Philadelphia is our headquarters, where all our analysts and technical people are based, with some salespeople. And then New York really is a sales office that we utilize for business development and meetings.
Q. You mentioned that the nature of transactions has changed. How are you adjusting valuations differently, and are there specific industries that have evolved more than others?
A. We’re adjusting valuations based on the concerns about the pharmaceutical industry going forward. As we heard just recently about Obamacare increasing by 25%, I think it’s going to have a downward effect on pharmaceutical and related business valuations.
Q. Where do you see the company in five years?
A. Murray Devine in five years will be still focused on our core businesses. We believe, with all the regulatory issues going on and continuing, that demand for valuations is going to continue to grow. We see it today: with transparency and regulatory issues, there are more and more requirements for valuation.
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