At Economic Ground Zero

Ritchie Taylor on closing deals during the financial crisis

Published in 2010 North Carolina Rising Stars — February 2010

It’s tough to close a major private- equity leveraged-buyout transaction in a typical year. But 2008 was atypical—brokerage houses were folding and investors were panicking—and Ritchie Taylor closed two deals during the heat of the meltdown at a collective $200 million, representing the seller in both cases.

“Because of the chaos in the overall debt market, we were at ground zero of the financial crisis trying to help our clients achieve successful exits despite the economic headwinds,” says Taylor, a shareholder with Manning Fulton in Raleigh. “We questioned whether the lenders or the buyers would fulfill their obligations and close the transactions. In each case, we worked with both parties to resolve their concerns, remove obstacles, and get the deals closed. Being a deal lawyer is about the art of the possible. It’s our job to figure out how to make the deal happen.”

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Taylor attended Utah’s Brigham Young University for both his B.A. in business and his J.D., graduating in 1999. He has been a corporate attorney with Manning Fulton ever since.

With a niche in franchise law, mergers and acquisitions, he represents such multinational companies as Global Electric Electronic Processing, based in Ontario, as well as regional franchises, including East Coast Wings & Grill, headquartered in Winston-Salem. For the restaurant chain, Taylor has helped its CEO, Sam Ballas, structure a franchise system, prepare disclosures and negotiate vendor contracts.

“We have great debates and we agree to disagree at times,” Ballas says, “but his effort and sincerity impress me. Ritchie has become my strategic partner and is genuinely focused on ensuring that my brand is moving in the right direction.” To date, Taylor has assisted Ballas in securing 26 franchises across the southeastern U.S.

As for the long nights of negotiating and deal making, Taylor sums it up this way: “It is our job to sweat the details so the client doesn’t have to.”

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