Once the meetings ended at biotech gathering, the real action started

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SAN FRANCISCO — The mating call at this week’s J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference was actually a phrase — “meet you under the clock,” referring to the large hanging timepiece in the elegant lobby of the Westin St. Francis Hotel.

It was a constant gathering place at the only annual conference that brings together every biotech industry kingpin and dealmaker for four days. But once the sun set, a rendezvous under the clock became merely a jumping off point to a potpourri of private receptions. They included wine tastings and corporate parties at hotels, art galleries, and other venues across the city for the thousands of bigwigs who attend the conference every year.

At those after-hours events, it was easy to spot Boston-area medical technology chieftains arriving in chauffeured limousines. You could hear lawyers and bankers talking in hushed tones about preparing S-1’s — the documents that launch initial public offerings. And you could see young guns from venture-backed startups sipping Napa Valley pinot noir as they listened to more seasoned executives from big pharma grouse about the regulators who approve their medicines and devices.

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