Reuters reported that senator Elizabeth Warren, backed by some dozen other US lawmakers, told the Justice Department that the $4.5bn plan to merge chicken producer Sanderson Farms with smaller rival Wayne Farms "raises significant antitrust concerns."
Chicken prices have risen sharply in the previous year, and the Justice Department has been pursuing price-fixing in the sector but the market shares for the combined company aren't as large as is usually seen in merger challenges. In the letter sent to Jonathan Kanter, head of the department's Antitrust Division, Warren, Representative Mondaire Jones, and others said the poultry industry has a history of colluding to fix prices for consumers.
Cargill and Continental Grain said in a statement that the planned deal would create a new player "which will be in an ideal position to expand options and increase supply for consumers."
Sanderson Farms is advised by Centerview Partners, Fishman Haygood, Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, MacKenzie Partners and Reevemark. Continental Grain is advised by Lazard and Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison. Cargill is advised by Bank of America, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.
Peoples Bancorp, a bank holding company, agreed to acquire Vantage Financial, a nationwide provider of equipment financing headquartered in Excelsior, Minnesota, for $75m.
"We are excited to welcome Bill and his highly talented team to Peoples and look forward to Vantage continuing its impressive track record of originating high-quality assets. The addition of Vantage to the Peoples suite of product offerings will allow us to build upon our recent success with our North Star Leasing acquisition, while also becoming a top 100 US leasing business based on combined assets," Chuck Sulerzyski, Peoples President and CEO.
Vantage Financial is advised by Cherry Tree & Associates and Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg. Peoples Bank is advised by Hovde Group and Squire Patton Boggs.
CD&R-backed Vera Whole Health, a pioneer in advanced primary care, completed the merger with Castlight Health, a healthcare data and navigation company, in a $370m deal.
"Integrating our navigation data and technology with Vera's high quality primary care offering addresses the fundamental need for a coordinated and personalized patient experience, while enabling providers to improve outcomes and lower costs and employers to participate in full risk sharing for the first time. We are thrilled to work with Vera and CD&R to open this new frontier of healthcare," Maeve O'Meara, Castlight CEO.
Castlight was advised by William Blair & Co and Fenwick & West. Vera was advised by Kirkland & Ellis.
TPG, a private equity investment firm, completed the investment in Ampersand Capital-backed Confluent Medical, a provider of outsourced design and manufacturing services for the medical device industry. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"Confluent's depth of expertise in Nitinol processing and other complex modalities, differentiated manufacturing capabilities and unique end-to-end integration have positioned the company as a trusted design and manufacturing partner to OEMs for many of the most complex implantable products. With an accomplished management team, robust pipeline, and long track record of product innovation, we believe the company is positioned to build on its market-leading reputation for quality and execution in some of the highest growth medical device end-markets," Kendall Garrison, TPG Capital Partner.
Confluent Medical was advised by JP Morgan and Goodwin Procter.
Ares Management, a global alternative investment manager, completed the acquisition of Capital Automotive, a self-managed real estate company that provides highly tailored, sale-leaseback capital, from Brookfield, an investment management company, for $3.8bn.
"I'm excited to be partnering with the team at Ares and believe that together we will be well-positioned to take advantage of the expanding opportunity set in the net lease market. Beyond the competitive edge of the Ares platform and the experience of the team, the strength of this partnership is reinforced through our shared commitment to accelerating positive social impact," Jay Ferriero, CARS President and CEO.
SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led a $200m Series D round in Spotter, a creator platform.
"This latest investment from SoftBank Vision Fund 2 is a testament to the creator economy maturing into a new era. Following years of development in technology and data collection, we're proud that Spotter has emerged as the market leader in this progression—building the bridge that allows creators to transform their channels into their own individual enterprises. This new investment allows us to continue being the preeminent partner to creators," Aaron DeBevoise, Spotter Founder and CEO.
Tiger Global Management led a $200m funding round in Genesis, the application development platform purpose-built for financial markets organizations, with participation from Accel, GV, Illuminate Financial, Insight Partners, Salesforce Ventures and Tribeca.
The funding will be used to expand the Genesis platform, developer community and the company's "buy-to-build" model. This innovative model increases operational efficiency and empowers global IT teams by providing them with a platform that helps them streamline and accelerate development of software applications, systems integrations, and customization of third-party technology solutions.
The Riverside Company, a global private investor focused on the smaller end of the middle market, completed the investment in PaleoWest, a Phoenix-based cultural resource management consulting firm. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"PaleoWest has significant growth potential thanks to its outstanding management team, regulatory-driven demand, and commitment to providing quality service. We are excited to partner with the PaleoWest team through its next phase of growth," Loren Schlachet, Riverside Managing Partner.
Athletico Physical Therapy, an orthopedic rehabilitation services provider, completed the acquisition of Pivot Health Solutions, a provider of physical therapy, from PennantPark, an investment firm. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"The team at Pivot shares our dedication to delivering exceptional patient experiences, and they have done a tremendous job of developing meaningful relationships in the communities they serve. We are looking forward to working together to transform the lives of individuals throughout the Eastern region," Ron Rodgers, Athletico CEO.
Pivot Health Solutions was advised by Jefferies & Company.
Mainsail Partners, a growth equity firm, agreed to acquire ServiceCore, a provider of cloud-based business management software, from Full In Partners, a premier growth equity firm, for $54m.
"ServiceCore has always been ambitious. We are a customer-first organization that obsesses about making our customers' lives easier and their businesses more profitable. We want to help move our industry forward by bringing capital and innovation. By partnering with Mainsail, we believe we now have the financial and operational means to accelerate our product roadmap and enhance the platform to better serve our customers," Jonah Chilton, ServiceCore CEO.
Full In Partners is advised by Willkie Farr & Gallagher.
Everstone Group and Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking-backed Infostretch, a digital engineering services firm, agreed to acquire Apexon, an information technology consulting services provider. Financial terms are not disclosed.
“The need for digital expertise continues to grow as organizations look for new ways to apply the latest technologies to drive their businesses forward. Through the merger with Apexon, we can offer new solutions and enhance the impact of our clients’ strategic digital initiatives in order to deliver on their critical business objectives. The Apexon team brings both scale and maturity and positions the company for long-term partnerships with our clients,” Rutesh Shah, Infostretch Co-Founder.
Spotify, a Swedish audio streaming and media services provider, agreed to acquire Podsights, a provider of podcast advertising. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"Advertisers come to Spotify to reach our engaged and immersed audience. But, according to a recent Advertiser Perceptions survey, measurement and attribution remain the two biggest unsolved challenges for podcast advertisers. Spotify plans to solve this pain point through the acquisition of Podsights. As part of Spotify, Podsights will be able to utilize Spotify's technology and intelligence to bring more accurate measurement and actionable insights to podcast advertisers around the world," Spotify.
IFF, a producer of flavors, fragrances, and cosmetic actives, agreed to acquire Health Wright Products, a formulation and capsule manufacturer. Financial terms are not disclosed.
“Today’s announcement is driven by our commitment to enhance long-term value to our partners and customers. Producing thousands of unique and complex formulations for the industry’s most trusted brands, Health Wright Products formulation and finished format abilities will allow us to develop new and customized solutions and formats for a broad base of customers,” Simon Herriott, IFF Health & Biosciences President.
LG Energy Solution, a storage battery manufacturing company, completed the acquisition of NEC Energy Solutions, a grid battery integrator, from NEC, an information technology company. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"Through the deal, LG Energy Solution will accelerate its energy storage business and ultimately better provide our clients with a more comprehensive ESS program that meets the growing demand. We are confident we can expand on the ESS business by escalating our competitiveness in terms of quality and ultimately become a leading global player within the industry," Youngsoo Kwon, LG Energy Solution CEO.
Aquiline Capital-backed National Medical Billing Services, a national medical billing services provider, completed the acquisition of National Billing Partners, a revenue cycle management company. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"We are ecstatic to add NBP to the National Medical family as we continue to build scale in our core market. As a recognized leader in the ASC market, National Medical is highly discerning in adding partners with demonstrated success of providing significant value for its clients. NBP is no exception to this and brings additional expertise of serving surgical practices, an area of considerable growth opportunity for National Medical," Nader Samii, National Medical CEO.
Novacap-backed FortNine, an e-commerce platform, agreed to acquire Defender Industries, a marine outfitter. Financial terms are not disclosed.
"FortNine and Defender share a passion for serving sports enthusiasts: we both have a very loyal customer base who trust our knowledge and experience to outfit them with the equipment they need. It is truly a privilege to acquire a company with such a stellar reputation and we look forward to bringing our unique go-to-market expertise to the marine industry," Amin Sawaf, FortNine Founder and President.
Pearl Energy and NGP Energy-backed Colgate explores $5bn sale. (FS)
Colgate Energy, a private equity-backed energy explorer in the Permian Basin that’s been preparing to go public, is also considering a sale after getting takeover interest.
The company could fetch about $5bn in a sale. It could sell to a larger rival or do a merger of equals with companies operating nearby. The company and its backers Pearl Energy Investments and NGP Energy Capital are working with advisers to evaluate a sale as well as an initial public offering, Bloomberg reported.
Millennium and Point72 discuss bids for Engineers Gate. (FS)
Millennium Management and Point72 Asset Management are separately in talks to buy quant hedge fund Engineers Gate. The two hedge funds are bidders to buy the firm in which Blackstone has an economic interest.
Engineers Gate, started in 2014 by former Highbridge Capital Management executive Glenn Dubin, managed about $1bn as of February 2020. The fund rose about 5% in January after gaining roughly 25% last year and 11% in 2020, Bloomberg reported.
Alta Fox Capital starts proxy fight at Hasbro. (FS)
Alta Fox Capital Management, an activist investor which has a 2.5% stake in Hasbro worth roughly $325m, is seeking to add several directors to Hasbro's board and is urging the toymaker to make changes, including a spinoff of its fast-growing unit housing games such as Dungeons & Dragons.
Alta Fox, which says in the letter that it has spoken to Hasbro, noted that the company's stock price is lower than it was five years ago and has significantly trailed the broader market. Alta Fox believes Hasbro could double its valuation by spinning off the unit that houses the Dungeons & Dragons business, WSJ reported.
Alfa has not received an 'appropriate offer' for Axtel.
Alfa, a group that produces petrochemicals, aluminum auto components, has still not received an “appropriate offer” for telecommunications subsidiary Axtel despite multiple interested parties. Alfa, which is looking to downsize its portfolio, values Axtel’s infrastructure business in the “low double digits,” and the services portion in the “mid-single-digit range.”
The executive told investors Alfa had no deadline for the potential sale and was analyzing several alternatives, Reuters reported.
“It looks good for Axtel in terms of demand going forward,” Eduardo Escalante, Axtel Chief Financial Officer.
Illinois weighs $1bn of debt to extend pension buyouts.
Illinois lawmakers are considering a bipartisan proposal to authorize selling $1bn of debt to pay for pension buyouts, in a bid to reduce the worst-rated state’s massive unfunded liability for its retirement systems.
A bill introduced in December by state representative Bob Morgan, a Democrat, would approve borrowing to extend a buyout option for many employees of the state, its universities and school systems. The debt would be on top of a previous authorization from 2018 to issue $1bn of so-called pension-obligation acceleration debt, most of which has been sold.
Biden administration is keeping a close eye on private equity. (FS)
The Biden administration is lending a more cautious eye to private equity and other alternative investments like hedge funds. The US Securities and Exchange Commission and US Department of Labor have taken steps in recent weeks to boost transparency for investors and rein in the pool of retirement savers who can buy private equity.
The investment category is generally off-limits to anyone who isn’t an “accredited” investor — someone deemed to have a minimum level of income, wealth or expertise to participate.
Stronghold launches a $100m investment fund. (FS)
Stronghold, a payments and financial infrastructure company, has launched Stronghold Capital to invest $100m in pioneering companies and funds across three core areas: overlooked and underrepresented founders and fund managers, the payments and fintech ecosystem, and the Web3 and blockchain ecosystem.
Stronghold CEO and co-founder Tammy Camp will serve as fund manager for Stronghold Capital. She advanced growth in fintech and blockchain throughout her earlier roles as partner at 500 Startups, head of growth at Stellar Development Foundation, and adviser to NFX Capital.
Circle Internet Financial, a global financial technology firm, agreed to new transaction terms with Concord Acquisition, increasing the value of their SPAC merger deal from $4.5bn to $9bn.
"We continue to believe that Circle is one of the most interesting, innovative and exciting companies in the evolution of global finance and we believe it will have an historic impact on the global economic system. Circle's rapid growth and world-class leadership are underscored by a regulatory-first mindset fixed on building trust and transparency in global markets. We believe our new deal is attractive because it preserves the ability of Concord's public stakeholders to participate in a transaction with this great company," Bob Diamond, Concord Acquisition Chairman.
Circle is advised by Financial Technology Partners, Goodwin Procter, Matheson and Blueshirt Group. Concord is advised by Cassel Salpeter & Co, Citigroup, Cowen & Company, Goldman Sachs, Greenberg Traurig and Copperfield Advisory. Financial Technology Partners is advised by Sullivan & Cromwell. Goldman Sachs is advised by Alston & Bird.
F-Secure, a global cyber security and privacy company, is set to demerge its consumer security business. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"I am really pleased to be able to announce the contemplated demerger of our consumer security business. I believe this would be the right time to pursue this change in our business to create two great companies, which would benefit from their current strong momentum. The demerger would enable us to serve our end customers even better from two separate companies, which would be more focused on the differing needs of our customers. These companies would also have different financial profiles, which would support shareholder value creation in the long term. I believe that the planned demerger would create two even more successful companies and offer new, exciting opportunities also for our employees," Juhani Hintikka, F-Secure President and CEO.
F-Secure is advised by Carnegie Investment Bank, Castren & Snellman and Hill+Knowlton Strategies.
Agility Public Warehousing, a provider of supply chain services, innovation and investment, completed the acquisition of a 13% stake in John Menzies, an aviation services business providing ground handling, cargo handling, cargo forwarding and into-plane fuelling, for $100m.
"The acquisition of this significant stake demonstrates our seriousness and belief that a combination of Menzies and NAS offers a compelling opportunity to all stakeholders," Hassan El-Houry, NAS CEO.
Agility Public Warehousing was advised by Barclays and Finsbury Glover Hering.
Nitto Denko, a Japanese company that produces tapes, vinyl, LCDs, insulation, and several other products, agreed to acquire the personal care components business of Mondi, a British paper and packaging firm, for $700m.
"We are pleased to have agreed to the sale of PCC to Nitto, knowing they will be great owners of the business. By simplifying our portfolio, the Transaction will enable us to focus on our core packaging and paper businesses and enhance our ability to pursue our strategic priority to grow in sustainable packaging. We remain excited by our opportunity to further serve our customers with innovative solutions that are sustainable by design," Andrew King, Mondi CEO.
Quantum Energy Partners, a provider of private capital across the energy ecosystem, completed the $400m investment in Warburg Pincus-backed Trident Energy, an international oil and gas company.
"Quantum is excited to be partnering with the Trident Energy team via a meaningful ownership interest from day one and a sizable go-forward equity commitment. We believe the Trident team is uniquely capable with a proven track record of creating value and doing so responsibly with a strong commitment to ESG. Additionally, we feel that the company is well-positioned to continue to acquire sizable assets in the international arena and we're excited to provide growth capital to that end. We look forward to working alongside both Trident and Warburg Pincus as we seek to grow the company," Tom Field, Quantum Partner.
Verdane, a specialist growth equity investment firm, led a €108m ($122m) Series C round in Swappie, a company in the Nordics in the sale of refurbished iPhones, with participation from Lifeline Ventures, Inventure, Reaktor Ventures and TESI.
"We've now raised funding pretty much annually. We've opened 12 new countries since March 2020. We knew that with more money we could invest in our vision, and the faster we could grow and achieve it," Sami Marttinen, Swappie CEO.
Warburg Pincus, a global growth investor, and MLM 2, an information services and software platform, agreed to acquire Minesoft, a patent search provider. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"Innovation has become the cornerstone of global growth, and patent search is critical to investing in innovation for global enterprises. This acquisition reflects the hard work of our employees, the loyalty of our customers, and our position as the most comprehensive patent research platform in the world," Ann Chapman-Daniel, Minesoft CEO.
ACS plans to sell renewable business Zero-E.
ACS, a Spanish engineering group, plans to sell its renewable energy unit Zero-E, which could be worth $1.14bn. ACS will launch the sale process after Easter.
Zero-E comprises existing renewable power plants and projects with a total capacity of 2.9k MegaWatts. Societe Generale is advising the Spanish conglomerate, Reuters reported.
Riley seals $286m takeover of telecoms rival XLN.
Matthew Riley, one of Britain's most successful telecoms entrepreneurs, has reportedly pulled off his latest transformational deal with the $286m purchase of rival XLN Telecom.
The deal will hand a roughly $123m windfall to XLN founder Christian Nellemann and his father nearly three years after the company was put up for sale, Sky News reported.
Independent Digital is considering media consolidation deals.
Independent Digital News & Media, owner of Britain’s Independent news website, is discussing a range of M&A options from consolidation with other media businesses to e-commerce acquisitions.
The potential deals would cement the former newspaper’s transformation into a digital media business after it stopped printing in 2016 to slash costs.
SoftBank seeks $8bn margin loan as part of Arm IPO.
SoftBank Group is asking banks jostling for roles on a potential listing of Arm, a semiconductor and software design company, to underwrite a margin loan of about $8bn.
The margin loan financing, linked to Arm’s IPO stock, is one option under consideration as SoftBank lines up an advisory roster for what could be the year’s biggest initial public offering, Bloomberg reported.
Apax Partners eyes $13bn fund. (FS)
Private equity major Apax Partners is already eyeing up to $13bn for its latest flagship fundraise, just a year after closing its $11bn Fund X vehicle.
The firm is set to pick up a $100m commitment from the Minnesota State Board of Investment which revealed almost $2.5bn of new alternative asset fund commitments.
Generali chairman to quit in April amid investor tensions. (People)
The chairman of Italy's biggest insurer, Generali, plans to step down in April after 11 years in the job, saying that current tensions among investors were a source of regret.
Gabriele Galateri di Genola told the board he would continue as chairman only until a shareholder meeting when investors are due to vote on a new team of directors. His departure comes at a delicate time for Generali, with some influential investors opposed to Philippe Donnet staying on as chief executive for another term, although its top shareholder backs him, Reuters reported.
Brookfield Asset Management, an alternative asset management company, completed the acquisition of AusNet Services, an Australian energy company, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange and the Singapore Exchange, for $12.8bn.
Brookfield and its partners see control of the business as an opportunity to make AusNet a multi-decade investment platform, with plans to spend at least as much as the acquisition cost again on adding new electric generation to the network out to 2050, not including upkeep, said Stewart Upson, Brookfield's managing partner and regional head of Asia Pacific.
AusNet was advised by Adara Partners, Citigroup, Allens and Domestique. Brookfield was advised by Herbert Smith Freehills.
DST Global led a $140m Series C round in Fenbeitong, a China corporate spend start-up, with participation from Hillhouse, Ribbit, Stau, Glade Brook, BitRock, D1 Capital Partners, WhaleRock, P7 Ventures and Emergence.
"It's all rooted in the vision of building a one-stop corporate spend platform. To achieve that, we partnered with airlines, hotels, rideshare platforms, and dining platforms to create a seamless travel management experience, invested heavily in building the budgeting and expense control solutions that work for companies in China, and cooperated with multiple banks to set up one-for-all digital accounts," Henry Lan, Fenbeitong CEO.
Fenbeitong was advised by Yuanyi Capital and Chuhai Media.
NEA, an American-based venture capital firm, led a $400m Series E round in Uniphore, a provider of conversational automation, with participation from March Capital.
"When we look at Uniphore's technology and the great advances the company has made in the last few years, we are very excited about its future product roadmap and are thrilled to participate in this new round. As we continue to operate in an increasingly virtual work model, technologies like Uniphore's are a necessity for organizations that want to unleash their competitive advantage and take their business to the next level," Hilarie Koplow-McAdams, NEA Venture Partner.
SEEK Investments led a $129m funding round in Employment Hero, a human resources platform, with participation from OneVentures and AirTree Ventures.
The support from investors at the 'unicorn' mark reflects Employment Hero's strong and sustained revenue growth and prospects. This news comes on the heels of Employment Hero's acquisition of workforce management and payroll solution, KeyPay.
Temasek-backed Zilingo is seeking $200m in funding. (FS)
Zilingo, a startup providing technology to apparel factories and merchants, is seeking to raise $150m to $200m in its latest funding round.
The company, which is backed by state-owned investor Temasek, is working with Goldman Sachs Group on the potential fundraising deal that could boost its valuation to over $1bn. Zilingo has reached out to some investors to gauge interest, Bloomberg reported.
Temasek joins investors in J&T Express $2bn funding round. (FS)
J&T Express, a logistics company, raised $2bn from investors including Temasek in its latest funding round, as the logistics company moves closer to seeking a Hong Kong initial public offering.
The Asian delivery firm’s existing investors Hillhouse Capital, Boyu Capital and Sequoia Capital China joined the fundraising. The round, which valued J&T Express at $20bn, closed near the end of last year, Bloomberg reported.
LIC's looming IPO weighs on India insurer shares.
Next month's mammoth stock market debut for India's Life Insurance Corporation has battered shares in other insurers as investors trim their holdings to make room for the state-owned giant.
The flotation, potentially raising $8bn, likely will continue to drag on LIC's competitors for about a year and could spread to other sectors. The government filed draft papers with India's market regulator to sell 5% of the company's shares in what could be the world's third-biggest insurance IPO ever and one of this year's biggest Asian share sales, Reuters reported.
Hurwa is weighing Hong Kong IPO.
Hurwa, a Chinese developer of medical robots used in surgeries, is considering an initial public offering in Hong Kong that could raise about $200m.
The Beijing-based company is working with China International Capital and CMB International Capital on a potential listing as soon as this year. Hurwa is valued at $1.3bn to $1.6bn, Bloomberg reported.
Q Investment Partners to launch a new fund. (FS)
Singapore-based Q Investment Partners, a private equity real estate firm, plans to launch a new fund to back real estate assets in Japan, DealStreetAsia reported.
It is aiming to secure $100m in capital to acquire multi-family housing assets in Japan, CEO and Co-Founder Peter Young said.
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