Optinel Systems Inc., a venture-backed provider of telecommunications equipment based in Elkridge, Md., was sold to Pennsylvania broadband gear maker C-Cor Inc. in a deal worth up to $15.5 million. C-Cor would pay $9.5 million and up to $6 million more based on performance of Optinel after the merger. Optinel, founded in 2000, was initially funded by two local venture funds, Novak Biddle of Bethesda and Optical Capital Group of Columbia, in an $8 million Series A financing in 2001. Optinel also raised $22.4 million in venture financing in late 2002, led by Court Square Ventures, of Charlottesville, with Optical Capital and Novak also participating.

Phillips Health LLC completed its purchase by New York private equity firms ACI Capital Co. and American Securities Capital Partners LLC. Phillips Health is a publisher of health-related newsletters owned by Potomac-based Phillips International Inc., a private publishing company founded in 1974 by Thomas L. Phillips. Terms were not disclosed. J.P. Morgan Chase provided debt financing for the deal, and was also Phillips's adviser.

Connect-us Group Communications of Reston was sold to the Atlanta business conferencing company Ptek Holdings Inc. for $8.9 million.


New Enterprise Associates invested $5 million in Seattle-based Tableau Software, a maker of visual interfaces for databases. Scott Sandell, an NEA general partner, and Forest Baskett, a venture partner, will join the company's board of directors.

Camden Partners, a Baltimore venture fund, led a $9.3 million group investing in Atlanta's CardSystems, a processor of electronic payments.

Bluefire Security Technologies Inc., a Baltimore developer of software to secure wireless data and handheld devices, raised $12.58 million this summer from 10 investors who bought Series C convertible preferred stock. Baltimore's Grotech Capital Group, and Maryland early-stage venture investors Blue Cloud Ventures and Walker Ventures each have directors on Bluefire's board, according to a securities filing.

Innovectra Corp., a Leesburg software developer focusing on business phone directories, raised $3.5 million in a Series A preferred stock offering. Edison Venture Fund of McLean has a representative on Innovectra's board, according to a securities filing.

Healthy Back Store LLC, a Newington chain of ergonomic chairs and equipment, sold $2.56 million in Class A preferred stock to 15 investors, according to a securities filing.


American Capital Strategies Ltd., a Bethesda company that finances corporate buyouts, plans to offer 10 million shares of stock to fund investments and pay down debt. Underwriters Citigroup Global Markets and Wachovia Capital could issue another 1.5 million shares if demand is high enough. Separately, American Capital issued $167 million in debt in the form of long-term unsecured five- and seven-year notes in a private placement.

MHI Hospitality Corp., Williamsburg, Va., hotel owners, filed to sell 6 million shares of common stock at $9 to $11 per share in a planned initial public offering. BB&T Capital Markets will underwrite the offering.

-- Terence O'Hara