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Steven Boehm understands something that most corporate lawyers and, frankly, most people in the investment world have a hard time grasping — the Investment Company Act of 1940. For six decades, that legislation has defined and regulated investment companies. Boehm, a partner in the D.C. office of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, has carved out his own niche in the 1980 amendments, which created a new investment vehicle known as the business development company. It’s an obscure specialization that has made Boehm and his team much sought after in the investment world. “He’s walking, living, breathing the 1940 act, which is pretty rare,” says Suzanne Sparrow, executive vice president and chief compliance officer of Allied Capital, a D.C.-based business development company and one of Boehm’s largest clients. Business development companies are essentially publicly traded private equity firms. Boehm says he and his team represent most of them, including Apollo Investment Corp. and Marathon Capital Finance Corp., both based in New York. Just this year alone, Boehm and partner Cynthia Krus, who works closely with him on these transactions, have advised on six initial public offerings of private equity firms, adding up to more than $700 million in equity. In the early 1980s, Boehm did a four-year stint with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including three years in the Enforcement Division. Now he brings that regulatory expertise to bear on a range of unusual transactions. Besides his experience with business development companies (BDCs), he helps set up special-purpose acquisition corporations (SPACs), which are companies that raise money to invest in other companies within a particular time period. Most recently, Boehm and his team advised Compass Diversified Trust on a complex deal in which the Westport, Conn.-based company first raised $202.5 million in an IPO. Net proceeds from the offering, which was completed this month, will be used to acquire and operate a group of small- to middle-market businesses through an unusual tax-advantaged trust structure. This kind of holding-company structure is so new that it hasn’t even had a name attached to it by Wall Street. “We feel very excited about the fact that we’re the only firm in the country that’s done all three of these deals,” says Boehm, referring to BDCs, SPACs, and the unusual trust arrangement. “It’s not common for folks on Wall Street to think of a Washington firm as a go-to firm for these sorts of innovative public structures.” Back in 1978, when Boehm graduated from Rutgers School of Law, he thought he wanted to be a litigator. He worked as a trial attorney at the SEC, bringing a handful of cases to federal court before age 30. But soon enough, Boehm concluded that the life of a litigator was “too spasmodic.” In 1983 he left the agency for Sutherland Asbill and the practice of corporate law. What keeps him going is the challenge of each new IPO and each new client. Says Boehm: “It’s such a new and burgeoning area that I really get excited about it.”

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