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Ventana Invests in Irvine's New VenTuer Firm


IRVINE — The Ventana family of financial companies said Tuesday it has invested in a new firm called the VenTuer Co. to handle mergers and acquisitions for the small and mid-size companies it services.

Irvine-based VenTuer, aspiring to become a major player in the U.S. merger and acquisition field, will be competing against Geneva Cos., the nation's largest mergers and acquisitions firm.

VenTuer was formed in August by Conrad Tuerk, a former president of one of the corporations that make up Irvine-based Geneva. It started operating recently after receiving $500,000 to $1 million in start-up capital from Ventana International Ltd., Tuerk said.

Ventana, the general partner of VenTuer, is an investment banking firm owned by Tuerk and three others. It shares offices with the Ventana Growth Funds, a venture-capital operation with common ownership. Ventana used a subsidiary to raise money for VenTuer from Swedish investors, Tuerk said.

Under an affiliation agreement, Ventana plans to pay for more VenTuer needs and to work with both the growth funds, which have invested in 35 companies, and with VenTuer to handle the full cycle of life for typical companies--funding them, nurturing them and selling them off at substantial profits.

Tuerk said he hopes to close VenTuer's first deal March 8 and complete a second one at the end next month. With nine employees now, VenTuer has ambitions of growing to become the largest merger and acquisition company in the country, he said.

Tuerk should know what it takes. He was president of one of the corporations that make up the Geneva Cos. and will be competing against his old firm.

But the market for mergers, acquisitions and divestitures is fragmented. While Geneva was the largest such operator in the field in 1988--and expects to retain the title once last year's figures are compiled--it had just 80 deals advertised in financial publications, in a year that saw about 3,500 deals begun and completed, Tuerk said.

When unadvertised deals among private companies are included, he said, the total number of mergers and acquisitions has been running at 15,000 to 20,000 deals a year.

"We will compete against Geneva, but it's such a huge market that we won't bump into them often," Tuerk said.

Tuerk left Geneva a year ago and started his own merger and acquisition consulting business before folding it into VenTuer.

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