A group of prominent internet pioneers is mobilizing to block the $1.1bn sale of control of the .org internet domain to Ethos Capital, arguing that the takeover of .org by a newly formed private company would hurt the millions of nonprofits that rely on it.
"There needs to be a place on the internet that represents the public interest, where educational sites, humanitarian sites, and organizations like Wikipedia can provide a broader public benefit," Katherine Maher, Wikimedia Foundation CEO.
Public Interest Registry is advised by Goldman Sachs, Proskauer Rose and Jackson Street Partners. Ethos Capital is advised by Macquarie Group, Morrison & Foerster and Sard Verbinnen & Co. Internet Society is advised by Morgan Lewis & Bockius.
Healthgrades, a Vestar Capital Partners portfolio company which provides objective ratings, detailed profiles, and directory information services, agreed to acquire Evariant, a health care consumer and physician engagement company. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“Healthgrades is a pioneer in healthcare information, and with the addition of Evariant, the company will become the most comprehensive healthcare communications platform in the industry. Merging the best features of both companies creates an unrivaled solution set for health systems to engage with consumers, patients, providers and other constituencies on a new level,” Norm Alpert, Healthgrades Chairman.
Evariant is advised by Piper Sandler and Goodwin Procter. Healthgrades is advised by MTS Health Partners and Kirkland & Ellis. Debt financing is provided by CRG and CIBC.
Aflac, an American insurance company, agreed to invest in Varagon Capital Partners, an asset manager focused on direct lending to middle-market companies. The deal will give Aflac a 33% stake. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"Varagon is very pleased to establish this strategic partnership with Aflac Global Investments. We appreciate the recognition of our expertise as an asset manager. This partnership will allow us to further build on our proven broad-based direct origination capability and rigorous underwriting process while meeting the needs of our borrowers for proprietary middle-market corporate loans," Walter J. Owens, Varagon CEO.
Varagon is advised by Wells Fargo Securities, Davis Polk & Wardwell, and Gasthalter & Co. Aflac is advised by Rothschild & Co and Debevoise & Plimpton.
L Catterton and Apax Partners led a $285m Series E round of ClassPass, a global fitness and wellness marketplace, with additional participation by existing investor Temasek.
"We are motivated by the impact we've had on members and partners, including 100m hours of workouts that have already been booked. This investment is a significant milestone that will further our mission to help people stay active and spend their time meaningfully," Payal Kadakia, ClassPass Founder and Executive Chairman.
L Catterton was advised by Joele Frank. Apax Partners was advised by Kekst CNC and Greenbrook.
Seaport Capital, a New York-based private equity firm, completed the investment in Linen King, a provider of a full range of laundry services to the health care industry. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“I’m looking forward to our new partnership with Seaport Capital and the exciting growth opportunities they will help us execute on for Linen King. Seaport has a very successful history of helping entrepreneur-led services companies grow. They quickly understood, and demonstrated that they shared, the values our Company embraces in providing not only the highest levels of service to our customers but a great place to work for our employees,” Leonard McCullough, Linen King Founder and CEO.
Seaport was advised by Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Linen King was advised by Stephens.
Entrepreneurial Equity Partners-backed Daniele International, which produces specialty Italian charcuterie and deli meats, completed its merger with Creminelli Fine Meats, a producer and distributor of premium charcuterie and protein snacks. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"We have been focused on identifying outstanding products to add to our portfolio, and we are excited to be partnering with Creminelli. Their focus on innovation, product quality, and culinary artisanship are aligned with our values and history, making the company an amazing fit for Daniele. Together with the outstanding team at Creminelli, we plan on expanding into new markets and broadening our product offerings. As a company, we seek to elevate the snacking and charcuterie experience in the US," David Finch, Daniele CEO.
Creminelli Fine Meats was advised by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Blucora, a provider of tax-smart financial solutions, agreed to acquire HKFS, a CPA-focused registered investment advisor, for $160m. As part of the transaction, Blucora expects to issue $165m of add-on term loan fungible with existing debt. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2020, subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions.
“This transaction further reinforces Blucora’s strategy of delivering tax-advantaged wealth management solutions to advisors and end-clients while maintaining healthy margins and profitable growth. We look forward to joining with HK Financial Services to provide more CPA firms, advisors and end-clients with additional capabilities and choice while providing our Avantax advisors new opportunities for growth, broader solution sets, efficiency and profitability,” John Clendening, Blucora President and Chief Executive Officer.
Loft, a Latin America-based digital real estate platform, raised $175m in a Series C round led by Vulcan Capital and Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from QED Investors, Fifth Wall Ventures, Thrive Capital, Valor Capital, Monashees and others.
"Loft’s exponential growth over the past year makes it clear that there is a massive need in the real estate industry for more transparency and efficiency. We see Loft's technology-enabled approach as a significant investment opportunity, particularly in rapidly-growing emerging markets like Latin America, and we’re thrilled to be expanding our funding to help bring the company’s innovative platform to more markets across the region," Alex Rampell, Andreessen Horowitz General Partner.
Medical Mutual, a health insurance company, agreed to acquire Bravo, a national provider of employee well-being solutions that empower employers and health plans with configurable wellness plans. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“For more than a decade, Bravo has shown that when wellness solutions include a proven recipe for health improvement, it can be a vital solution for employers to minimize the driving force behind rising benefits costs and preventable health risks. Medical Mutual understands our model and sees Bravo as a strategic part of its growth. Bravo’s commitment to inspiring preventive actions, promoting the primary care relationship, reducing health risks, and lowering claims costs aligns with Medical Mutual’s goals and we are thrilled to have the strength of this reputable parent company to support our business moving forward,” Jim Pshock, Bravo Founder and CEO.
Symmetry Surgical, a surgical instrumentation and solutions company, completed the acquisition of The O.R. Company, a provider of surgical devices. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"We are extremely pleased to welcome the outstanding O.R. Company team to Symmetry Surgical. This acquisition reinforces our commitment to helping our customers deliver the highest quality care while reducing costs through our best in class surgical products and solutions portfolio," Brian Straeb, Symmetry Surgical CEO.
GHR Healthcare, the Houston-based parent organization to a family of health care and community-based staffing companies, agreed to acquire the HIM Division of HCTec, a health care IT consulting company. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"We are very excited to add GHR RevCycle Workforce to the GHR team. We believe that it is a strategic fit for all involved. We are able to add an experienced, successful company to our group and, at the same time, expand our scope of support as a family. This acquisition complements our existing lines of business, allowing us to offer a broader range of workforce solutions to all clients," Joe Kaplan, GHR Healthcare Chairman.
Spencer Stuart, a global executive search and leadership advisory firm, completed the acquisition of Cambria Consulting, which specializes in individual and team development. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"We are delighted that Cambria Consulting is joining the Spencer Stuart family. Our firms' cultures and values are strongly aligned, and we share deep expertise in people and leadership solutions. We look forward to linking Cambria's individual and team coaching and development capabilities with Spencer Stuart's leadership advisory solutions to meet a broader spectrum of client needs," Ellen Kumata, Cambria Consulting managing partner.
Platinum Equity closes flagship private equity fund at $10bn. (FS)
Platinum Equity held the final close of its latest global buyout fund, Platinum Equity Capital Partners V, with $10bn in total capital commitments. The fund, which had a target of $8bn and a hard cap of $10bn, was oversubscribed. It is Platinum Equity's flagship private equity fund, focused on complex transactions utilizing Platinum Equity's highly specialized M&A&O approach.
"We are very grateful for the support of our investors worldwide who have entrusted us with their capital and helped extend our global investment reach," Tom Gores, Platinum Equity founder, chairman and CEO.
Platinum Equity was advised by Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.
Grubhub considers possible sale.
Grubhub is considering strategic options including a possible sale amid increased competition and a recent decline in its shares, WSJ reported. The Chicago food-delivery provider tapped financial advisers for help with a review of potential moves that could include a sale of the company or an acquisition.
Grubhub, which went public nearly six years ago, has a market value of roughly $4.5bn. That is down from its peak of more than $13bn just over a year ago before competition from other delivery startups heated up and ate into the company’s results.
Shoreline Equity Partners raises $300m for first private equity fund. (FS)
Shoreline Equity Partners, a purpose-driven lower middle-market private equity firm, announced the final close of its inaugural private equity fund, Shoreline Equity Partners Fund. Shoreline began fundraising in March, in conjunction with the firm's launch, with an initial target of $250m and was oversubscribed at its hard cap of $300m in commitments.
"From the onset, Mike and I sought to assemble a diverse investor base with a wide range of investment experiences. The composition of our limited partners validates our approach and the commitments from our executive network illustrate our relationships with management teams extend far beyond our initial investment partnership," Peter Franz, Co-Founder.
Shoreline Equity Partners was advised by M2O Private Fund Advisors and Ropes & Gray.
Capgemini ruled out any new offer for smaller rival Altran after activist fund Elliott urged the French software consultancy to raise its €14 ($15.6) per share bid. Elliott reiterated that Capgemini’s bid failed to recognize Altran’s value, Reuters reported.
“The equity market has gone up in value since the offer was announced in June, yet the offer price has remained unchanged,” Elliott.
Capgemini is advised by EY, Credit Agricole, HSBC, JP Morgan, Lazard, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, and Image Sept. Altran is advised by Citigroup, Herbert Smith Freehills, and Brunswick Group. BNP Paribas is providing debt financing and is being advised by Hogan Lovells.
Anglo American, a global mining company, offered to acquire Sirius Minerals, a fertilizer development company, for £386m ($507m). The proposal represents a premium of 34.1% to the closing price per Sirius share on 7 January 2020.
Anglo American believes that the possible offer could provide certainty to Sirius' shareholders, whilst Anglo American brings the financial, technical and marketing resources and capabilities to progress the project over time. This should also be in the interests of Sirius' broader stakeholders including employees and customers.
Sirius Minerals is advised by JP Morgan, Allen & Overy, and Edelman. Anglo American is advised by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Centerview Partners, and Linklaters.
Breedon Group, an AIM-listed British construction materials company, agreed to acquire the UK assets of CEMEX, a Mexican multinational building materials company, for c.$235m.
“This transaction further rebalances our portfolio into our core markets, enhances our profitability, and enables us to continue to focus on deleveraging. We believe the valuation of this transaction is in line with our other recent divestments considering the type and return of the assets sold. With this transaction, our asset sales to date, announced or closed, have now reached close to the mid-range of our $1.5-to-$2.-bn asset-divestment target under our ‘A Stronger CEMEX’ plan,” Fernando A. Gonzalez, CEMEX CEO.
CEMEX is advised by HSBC. Breedon is advised by Cenkos Securities, Numis Securities, Moelis & Co, and Teneo.
Northleaf Capital Partners, an independent global private markets investment firm, agreed to acquire a 90% stake in Douglas Terminals, a Belgium-based liquid storage terminal, from Hartree Partners, a global merchant commodities firm, and Ghent Transport & Storage, a family-owned business that specializes in the handling of bulk cargo. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"Direct investments in high-quality bulk liquid storage assets are consistent with Northleaf's strategy and offer our investors significant potential for stable, long-term returns. This investment further strengthens and diversifies Northleaf's portfolio of bulk liquid storage assets that now includes investments in the United States, United Kingdom, Belgium, Australia and New Zealand," Roderick Gadsby, Northleaf Managing Director.
Northleaf is advised by Macquarie Group and Ashurst. The sellers are advised by ABN Amro and Lydian.
Esteve, a Spanish pharmaceutical company, agreed to acquire Riemser, a German pharma firm, from Ardian. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"This acquisition is a meaningful contribution to our strategic path towards making Esteve much more of an international proprietary, specialty pharma company. Riemser contributes both knowledge and experience in the European hospital market, in addition to pharmaceutical activity in four of the major European markets - Germany, United Kingdom, France, and Spain. Riemser's presence and facilities in these geographically important markets provide significant growth potential for Esteve, and we will, as a combined entity with Riemser, continue our quest for further expansion," Staffan Schüberg, Esteve CEO.
STV Productions, the television production arm of the STV Group, completed the acquisition of a minority stake in Two Cities Television, an independent production company specializing in drama. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"This exciting new partnership builds on STV's growing reputation in high-end drama following recent successes The Victim and Elizabeth is Missing. Our Two Cities investment will accelerate our growth plan to create a world-class, nations-based production business," Simon Pitts, STV Group Chief Executive.
Two Cities Television was advised by Helion Partners.
Mammoet, a heavy lift and transport operator, completed the acquisition of ALE, a specialist in engineered heavy lifting and transport for sectors such as the petrochemical industry, renewable energy, power generation, civil construction, and the offshore industry. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“We are looking forward to working together with our new colleagues all over the world and establishing long term relationships with our customers, existing and new. We will put all our efforts into supporting them with their activities aimed at enhancing cities, businesses and communities that are all part of the transition to a more sustainable future. As their goals increase in size and complexity, we must reshape ourselves to support them while keeping our primary focus on safety," Paul van Gelder, Mammoet CEO.
Accenture agreed to acquire maihiro, a provider of customer experience and customer relationship management consulting, optimization and ongoing enhancement services. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in early 2020. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“Our collective, comprehensive capabilities will help clients design and operate CX and CRM solutions that enable maximum benefits from the SAP Customer Experience portfolio, including integration with SAP S/4HANA® and SAP intelligent technologies to enable seamless, end-to-end processes and drive innovation,” Bernd Hesse, maihiro CEO of Consulting & Human Resources.
Rockwell Automation, a provider of industrial automation and digital transformation, agreed to acquire Avnet Data Security, a cybersecurity provider that a full set of IT/OT cyber services and solutions. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The transaction is expected to close in early 2020 subject to customary approvals and conditions, and it is not expected to have a material impact on Rockwell Automation’s 2020 financial results.
“We are excited to join Rockwell Automation to further expand their already robust cyber offering. We are continuing to serve our existing clients while expanding our reach to service a much broader range of customers. Our passion and mission have always been to help as many organizations as possible secure their data from internal and external threats,” Igal Cohen, Avnet CEO.
PIB Group, an insurance intermediary group, completed the acquisition of the employee benefits division of Sanlam, a financial services group. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“Welcome to the Sanlam team who will provide invaluable experience to complement our existing offering. Our employee benefits division had a busy year in 2019 thanks to a lot of hard work in prior years to build a strong pipeline which is now coming into fruition. The combination of PIB Employee Benefits, i2 Healthcare and new colleagues from Sanlam takes the division to an exciting level for clients with a range of new resources and capabilities,” Brendan McManus, PIB Group CEO.
PPG Industries, a global supplier of paints, coatings and specialty materials, agreed to acquire Industria Chimica Reggiana, a manufacturer of paints and coatings for the automotive refinish and light industrial coatings industries. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020, subject to customary closing conditions. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“PPG’s acquisition of ICR will complement our current product offering for the automotive refinish and light industrial coatings industries and add specialized, value-added products that address the needs of distributors and body shops. We look forward to continuing to deliver the trusted products and services upon which ICR customers have come to rely, and we are very excited to welcome ICR employees to PPG," Gary Danowski, PPG Vice President, Global Automotive Refinish.
Mubadala sells a $947m UniCredit stake. (FS)
Bloombergreported that Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi-based sovereign wealth fund, more than halved its shareholding in Italian bank UniCredit as the holder of about 6% of the world's oil reserves sells stakes in overseas assets.
The fund's stake declined to about 2.02% as of December 20, down from a 4.99% stake in June. The stake sold by the fund is valued at about $947m.
RWE is a possible takeover target.
RWE, Germany’s largest power producer, could become a takeover target as big industry players strive to expand their renewable portfolios around the world, Goldman Sachs said.
According to a Reuters report, following an asset swap with E.ON, RWE last year became Europe’s third-largest renewables player after Spain’s Iberdrola and Italy’s Enel, and the world’s No.2 offshore wind player after Denmark’s Orsted.
France to retain its 10% stake in Toulouse airport.
Reuters reported that France will retain its 10% stake in Toulouse-Blagnac airport in the south of France. France's antitrust authority in December cleared the acquisition of a 49.99% stake in Toulouse-Blagnac airport by French construction group Eiffage.
"I can confirm that the State, at the request of local authorities that I have met, will keep a 10% stake in Toulouse airport," Bruno Le Maire, French Finance Minister.
NMC Health investors sell shares at a discount.
Two major investors in NMC Health, a health care chain and distribution business in the United Arab Emirates, launched a discounted share sale worth $493m, sending its stock down 19% weeks after a short-selling attack by US firm Muddy Waters, Reuters reported.
The deal, led by NMC's second- and third-largest shareholders Saeed Al Qebaisi and Khaleefa Al Muhairi, was priced at a discount of about 20% to the company's last close. Following the transactions, Muhairi will retain a 12.5% stake in NMC, while Qebaisi will keep a 4.7% holding.
AB InBev plans to replace veteran CFO. (People)
Anheuser-Busch InBev is preparing to replace its long-serving chief financial officer Felipe Dutra as the company seeks to revive its fortunes and share price, FT reported. The board of the world's largest brewer discussed the management change at recent meetings.
The expected shake-up follows the replacement of the group's chairman in April last year, with Martin J. Barrington, former chief executive of tobacco group Altria, promoted to the role. Altria owns 9.5% of AB InBev, and together with the three Brazilian founders of 3G Capital and the Belgian and Colombian families who sold their regional beer dynasties to AB InBev they control more than half the company's shares.
Credit Suisse appoints Jonathon Kaufman as a new infrastructure and renewables head. (People)
Credit Suisse appointed managing director Jonathon Kaufman as the head of its new global infrastructure, utility and renewables group.
"Infrastructure was the fastest-growing asset class in 2019, raising over $90bn, and continues to be of strategic importance," David Miller and Malcolm Price, Credit Suisse Directors.
Longreach, a private equity firm, agreed to acquire Chat Noir, one of the coffee shop chains in Japan. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Longreach considers this to be an exciting investment opportunity with a clear business growth path, well-positioned in the premium coffee store market segment in Japan. Longreach also will accelerate Chat Noir’s growth through the enhancement of a variety of menu items, new marketing campaigns and new store expansion to regional markets in Japan.
CITIC's PE arm aims to acquire a 22% stake in McDonald's China business. (FS)
CITIC, the main listed arm of Chinese state-owned conglomerate CITIC Group, plans to sell a 22% stake in McDonald’s mainland China and Hong Kong business, which is likely to be bought by the group’s private equity arm, Reutersreported.
The Hong Kong-listed company aims to raise at least CNY2.17bn ($312m) through the sale.
McDonald’s said the transaction would not affect its business strategy and daily operations in mainland China and Hong Kong.
EF Education First shortlists bidders for Chinese unit. (FS)
Bloomberg reported that private equity firms Hillhouse Capital and Warburg Pincus are among suitors that have been invited to make second-round bids for EF Education First’s Chinese business.
Permira was also asked to submit second-round bids that are due later this month. Education First now has a shortlist of about six bidders for the sale, which could fetch $1.5bn to $2bn.
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