Britain’s competition regulator said it plans to investigate the planned merger of gambling companies Flutter Entertainment and The Stars Group, Reuters reported. The two firms announced plans for an all-share deal last October that would create the world’s largest online betting business by revenue.
The Competition and Markets Authority said it would consider whether the tie-up would result in “a substantial lessening of competition” in Britain.
The Stars Group is advised by BMO Capital Markets, Barclays, Moelis & Co, A&L Goodbody, Blake Cassels & Graydon, Gilbert + Tobin, Jones Day, Osler Hoskin & Harcourt and Slaughter & May. Flutter is advised by Goldman Sachs, Goodbody, PJT Partners, Arthur Cox, Blank Rome, Clayton Utz, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Stikeman Elliott, Drury Porter Novelli and Finsbury.
Apax Partners-backed Accurate Background, a provider of compliant, automated workforce screening solutions, agreed to acquire the CareerBuilder Employment Screening unit of CareerBuilder, a global technology company that provides end-to-end talent acquisition solutions. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"An increasingly competitive labor-market, a more complex regulatory environment, and a growing focus on risk management excellence, are driving employers' strong demand for best-in-class technology solutions for enhanced screening services. We are eager to partner with Accurate in its acquisition of CareerBuilder Employment Screening and look forward to supporting the company in accelerating its customer service advantage, cutting-edge innovation, and international expansion efforts," Marcelo Gigliani, Apax Managing Partner.
CareerBuilder is advised by Bowstring Advisors, PJT Partners and Sidley Austin. The buyers are advised by Barclays, Stifel, Latham & Watkins and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.
Audax Private Equity completed the acquisition of a majority stake in Kofile, a provider of information management and access systems solutions for government agencies nationwide. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"In Audax, we believe we have found the perfect investment partner to propel our future growth. Their interest in the public sector market, coupled with their experience and customer focus, has us very excited about the opportunities this partnership can bring to Kofile’s customer-centered commitment," Michael Crosno, Kofile CEO.
Kofile was advised by Shea & Co and Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian. Audax was advised by Ropes & Gray.
AURELIUS, an asset management group, agreed to acquire the renewable power systems and protection relays business of Woodward, an independent designer, manufacturer and service provider of control system solutions and components for the aerospace and industrial markets. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“Both the RPS Business and the protection relays business are strong, and in growing markets. We look forward to working with the team to ensure a smooth transition and position the businesses as independent entities. Growing power demand and growth in the renewables industry will offer good growth opportunities going forward,” Gert Purkert, AURELIUS Executive Board Member.
Nestle Health Science, a company engaged in advancing the role for nutritional therapy, agreed to invest $200m in Aimmune Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company developing and commercializing treatment for potentially life-threatening food allergies. NHS's total investment to date in Aimmune Therapeutics is $473m, bringing its total equity ownership to 25.6%, of which just under 20% are regular voting shares.
“We first invested in Aimmune in 2016 and have been closely involved since then. Their research and development approach is fully aligned with our mission of empowering healthier lives through science-based nutritional solutions. We expect Aimmune’s PALFORZIA™, the first medication approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for food allergies in children and teens, to change the landscape of food allergy treatment and look forward to even more innovations,” Greg Behar, NHS's CEO and Aimmune Therapeutics Board Member.
Huntington Ingalls Industries, America's largest military shipbuilding company and a provider of professional services to partners in government and industry, agreed to acquire Hydroid, a provider of advanced marine robotics to the defense and maritime markets, for $350m.
"We are very excited about bringing Hydroid into the HII family and establishing a strategic alliance with Kongsberg Maritime. Hydroid's advanced capabilities and reputation for excellence in autonomous and unmanned maritime systems provide the perfect complement to our existing unmanned operations, including Proteus in Panama City and our partnership with Boeing to produce the Orca XLUUV. This transaction, along with the strategic alliance with Kongsberg Maritime, demonstrates our long term commitment to the US Navy, the US Coast Guard and our national security customers and allies globally," Mike Petters, Huntington Ingalls Industries President and CEO.
Huntington Ingalls Industries is advised by Rothschild & Co.
Spotify, an international media services provider, agreed to acquire The Ringer, a creator of sports, entertainment and pop culture content. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"We look forward to putting the full power of Spotify behind The Ringer as they drive our global sports strategy. As we set out to expand our sports and entertainment offerings, we wanted a best-in-class editorial team. Bill Simmons is one of the brightest minds in the game and he has successfully innovated as a writer and content creator across mediums and platforms. The Ringer's proven track record of creating distinctive cultural content as well as discovering and developing top tier talent will make them a formidable asset for Spotify," Dawn Ostroff, Spotify Chief Content Officer.
The Ringer is advised by Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Spotify is advised bySkadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom.
GV, the venture capital investment arm of Alphabet, led a $100m financing round for Verana Health, a technology company that is curating and analyzing real-world clinical data to advance patient care.
"Verana Health is building the team and technology to unlock deep clinical insights that support the development of new treatments while increasing our understanding of how these treatments can benefit patients more broadly. Under the leadership of its strong management team, Verana continues to redefine how we approach medical research," Krishna Yeshwant, GV General Partner.
Merck, a global healthcare company, is set to spin off its women’s health and biosimilars businesses with $6.5bn in annual revenues. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“By optimizing our human health portfolio, Merck can move closer to its aspiration of being the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company, while also properly prioritizing a set of products at NewCo that are important to public health and the patients who rely on them, and which present real opportunities for growth,” Kenneth C. Frazier, Merck Chairman and CEO.
Resource Label Group, a portfolio company of First Atlantic Capital and TPG Growth, completed the acquisition of Axiom Label & Packaging, an innovator and supplier of label and packaging solutions. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“I am proud to welcome the talented team at Axiom to the Resource Label Group family. Axiom provides innovative solutions in labels, shrink sleeves and packaging applications that will broaden our product offering and strengthen our ability to meet customer’s requirements. We look forward to working closely with the team to serve our growing customer base along the West Coast,“ Mike Apperson, Resource Label President & CEO.
Private equity firms Wincove, TDR Capital and Sands Capital completed the acquisition of a minority stake in Globalization Partners, which allows companies to hire employees throughout the world through its platform, for $150m.
“Globalization Partners has developed an innovative tech-enabled global expansion platform that we believe is transformational for companies that need to rapidly take advantage of global growth opportunities. The business is extremely well-run and committed to providing world-class, compliant solutions, all while operating with the highest integrity and client care standards,” Jon Rosen, TDR Capital Partner.
ConsenSys, the ethereum-focused VC and technology company, completed the acquisition of Heritage Financial Systems, a broker-dealer. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The acquisition gives ConsenSys advisory and broker-dealer capabilities in the US, allowing it to offer newly tokenized municipal bonds through its ethereum-based operating system, Codefi.
Intercontinental Exchange explored a deal with eBay.
Intercontinental Exchange, the owner of the New York Stock Exchange, said it had approached e-commerce company eBay to explore "a range of potential opportunities." The acquisition value would exceed $30bn and represent a substantial departure from ICE's focus on financial markets, Wall Steet Journal reported.
ICE said in its statement that "eBay has not engaged in a meaningful way," and as a result, it was not in negotiations regarding the sale of all or part of eBay.
Jeff Bezos sells $1.8bn of Amazon stock.
According to a Bloomberg report, Jeff Bezos sold 0.2% of Amazon.com for $1.8bn. Bezos offloaded 900k Amazon shares under a pre-arranged trading plan. That brings his total stock sales to about $12bn, with two-thirds of those occurring in the past four years.
Bill Ackman sells stake in Starbucks. (FS)
Activist investor Bill Ackman exited his position in Starbucks, arguing in his annual investor presentation that the company is now “firing on all cylinders” after a successful turnaround, according to a Bloomberg report.
The billionaire said in the presentation that Pershing Square Capital Management’s investment in the Seattle-based coffee giant returned 73% over 19 months. Prospective returns could “become more modest,” he said.
Vanguard to launch a new private equity fund. (FS)
PE News reported that Vanguard Group is launching a private equity fund, a striking move for the money management giant that built a household brand on the back of low-cost funds for everyday investors. The new fund is part of chief executive Tim Buckley's push to broaden the company's appeal as a financial adviser for larger investors.
Vanguard picked the Boston firm HarbourVest Partners to manage the new private equity fund.
Ecosystem Investment Partners raised a $455m fund. (FS)
Ecosystem Investment Partners, a Baltimore, MD-based private equity firm, raised a new $455m fund. The fund continued to receive support from its global, existing investor base, as well as new limited partners, including pension funds, endowments, foundations, asset managers and family offices.
Consistent with prior funds’ investment strategy, through EIP IV, EIP will continue investing in large-scale wetland, stream and habitat mitigation and restoration projects in the US
French media group Vivendi may take further legal action against Italy’s Mediaset if it continues with a plan to merge its Italian and Spanish units, Vincent Vallejo, Vivendi representative in Mediaset Espana.
Controlled by the family of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, Mediaset approved a merger of its Italian and Spanish units under a Dutch holding company called MediaforEurope last September. But Vivendi, led by French billionaire Vincent Bollore and a major shareholder in Mediaset, is fighting the project in courts across Europe, saying the governance structure of the new entity would strengthen the Berlusconis’ grip on the company.
Mediaset Espana is advised by JP Morgan, Uria Menendez, and Linklaters. Mediaset is advised by Banca IMI, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Mediobanca, Allen & Overy, Chiomenti, Pedersoli Studio Legale, Shearman & Sterling, and Brunswick Group.
Bain Capital agreed to acquire a stake in Engineering Group, an IT services provider focused on digital transformation, from private equity firms Apax Partners and NB Renaissance Partners. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"The Engineering Group is a key player in digitalization with strong client relationships and a reputation for customer service, reliability and innovation. We believe the Engineering Group has the potential to grow further in a very fragmented market, both organically and through acquisitions, and look forward to partnering with the management team and Neuberger Berman to accelerate this, as we have done in other Italian technology companies, such as Teamsystem, Nexi and Cerved," Luca Bassi, Bain Capital Private Equity Managing Director.
Engineering Group is advised by Accinni Cartolano & Associati. Bain Capital is advised by BNP Paribas, Bain & Co, Deutsche Bank, Mediobanca, New Deal Advisors, Gattai Minoli Agostinelli Partners, Studio Pirola Pennuto Zei & Associati, Angelia Comunicazione and Camarco. The sellers are advised by Rothschild & Co, BonelliErede, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Greenbrook, Kekst CNC, Tancredi and PwC.
Continental Grain, a grain-trading firm, completed the investment in Ceva Sante Animale, a multinational animal health company based in Libourne, France. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"I am delighted [for our employees and current shareholders] that we managed to successfully deliver returns to all our stakeholders. As we move to the next phase of our development, we are confident that we now have the best possible partners around the table and everything within our hands to continue our remarkable journey," Marc Prikazsky, Ceva Chairman & CEO.
Ceva was advised by Callisto, Lazard and Weil Gotshal and Manges. Continental Grain was advised by Kirkland & Ellis.
Novacap and CDPQ-backed Eddyfi Technologies, a provider of inspection technologies, agreed to acquire NDT Global, an ultrasonic pipeline inline inspection and data analysis supplier for onshore and offshore pipelines worldwide. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"We have spent the past ten years developing, acquiring and perfecting the most advanced NDT modalities in the world. At every level of technology, pushing the limits of NDT to new heights has allowed us to solve critical problems and deliver superior, information-rich data for the benefits of our clients. However, selling inspection instrumentation & technology alone in certain very niche and specialized sub-verticals, such as ILI inspection, simply does not work. We are therefore excited to join forces with NDT Global and work with them and their clients to take ILI NDT to the next level," Martin Theriault, Eddyfi CEO.
Eddyfi is advised by Robert W Baird and McCarthy Tetrault.
Vectra, the second-largest Polish cable operator, completed the acquisition of Multimedia Polska, the biggest CaTV provider in Poland. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"The implementation of the transaction allows us a much larger scale of activities – access to a wide customer base and the potential of one of the best and largest fixed telecommunications infrastructures in Poland. Greater investment capacity and managerial talent of the merged entities will translate into the opportunity to offer a more attractive offer to both retail and business customers, which is the merit of this transaction," Tomasz Zuranski, Vectra President and CEO.
Vectra was advised by BNP Paribas, mbank and Rymarz Zdort.
Kaefer, a technical services provider, agreed to acquire the industrial services business of John Wood Group, a multinational energy services company, for $118m.
"The sale of our industrial services business is the latest divestment aimed at maintaining our strong balance sheet and achieving our target leverage. As our focus has moved towards building a premium, differentiated and higher-margin business, the industrial services offering is no longer core to our strategy. However, it is an excellent fit with Kaefer who see a clear opportunity to grow the business further and extend its market share across new sectors and geographies," David Kemp, John Wood CFO.
Presto Engineering, an outsourced operations provider to semiconductor and IoT device manufacturers, completed the acquisition of the DELTA Microelectronics business, a provider of ASIC services for the semiconductor industry, from FORCE Technology, a technology service provider. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“Joining forces with Presto brings our customers the best of both worlds. DELTA Microelectronics’ team will continue to provide the top-quality semiconductor services – from ASIC design to complete turnkey ASIC manufacturing operations – that our customers are accustomed to, and they will also benefit from a more flexible and comprehensive model focused exclusively on semiconductor applications,” Juan Farre, FORCE Technology CTO.
HNA looking to sell Swissport at a discount. (FS)
China’s HNA Group is resuming efforts to find a buyer for airport luggage handler Swissport despite facing a loss on its initial $2.8bn investment, Reuters reported. The Chinese conglomerate rekindled talks with several heavyweight investment funds as it needs to raise cash to cut its debts.
Buyout funds Apollo Global Management and Cerberus as well as Canadian asset manager Brookfield came forward to revisit a possible acquisition of Swissport.
Rothschild & Co is advising on the sale.
Apollo nears deal to acquire Covis Pharma from Cerberus. (FS)
Apollo Global Management is nearing a deal to buy drugmaker Covis Pharma from rival private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management for more than $700m, Bloomberg reported.
Talks are at an advanced stage and the deal could be announced as soon as this week. Apollo, led by billionaire Leon Black, emerged as the buyer for Covis Pharma ahead of bidders including other private equity firms.
Rothschild & Co is advising on the sale.
NMC Health founder looking to buy back the company.
BR Shetty, the founder of NMC Health, is looking to buy out his Emirati partners and return to an “active leadership position” at the embattled hospital group, according to an FT report.
The 77-year-old Indian-born entrepreneur is conducting an operational review of NMC ahead of formal talks to explore various options with shareholders and regulators.
Nishimura & Asahi sets up office in Frankfurt.
FTreported that Nishimura & Asahi became the first of Japan’s “big four” law firms to set up offices in Europe, choosing Frankfurt over London as Japanese companies reorganize to cope with Brexit and prepare for an expected boom in dealmaking in the EU.
The move by Japan’s biggest law firm follows a record year of outbound M&A in 2019 as Japanese companies shifted gear, boosting both the number of deals and the overall financial value as the pool of companies pursuing takeovers expanded into the manufacturing and services sectors from financial services.
HSBC promotes Stephen Moss to head of EMEA. (People)
HSBC appointed Stephen Moss, its group head of strategy and planning, to run its struggling European operation ahead of a wider restructuring that is expected to hit its investment bank in the region.
PE Newsreported that the bank named Stephen Moss as regional chief executive for Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and Canada. The position excludes responsibility for the UK. He will start in the role on 1 March.
Qatar Airways eyes RwandAir stake.
Qatar Airways is in talks to buy a 49% stake in Africa’s RwandAir and is interested in doubling its holding in LATAM Airlines Group to 20%, its chief executive said.
A stake in an African airline would widen its reach in one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation regions and potentially help it to bypass restrictions imposed on it by some Arab states, Reuters reported.
“We are very tough negotiators... we will take our time to negotiate,” Akbar al-Baker, Qatar Airways CEO.
Pepco faces sale by Steinhoff. (FS)
The boss of Pepco Group, the owner of British discount retailer Poundland, said it was “almost inevitable” the group would be sold by its beleaguered South African parent Steinhoff.
Advent International, Hellman & Friedman and Mid Europa Partners had teamed up for a possible bid for Pepco that could value it at more than €4.5bn ($5bn).
“The restructuring arrangement that Steinhoff has with its creditors means it’s almost inevitable we’ll be sold,” Andy Bond, Pepco Group CEO.
Arnold Laver acquired assets of Cotswold Manufacturing.
Leading timber specialist Arnold Laver, strengthened its doorset manufacturing capabilities with the acquisition of the assets of Cotswold Manufacturing. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“This latest investment has strengthened our position as an industry leader in the UK timber doorset market and gives our customers more choice than ever before. Our overall group capacity now exceeds 2k doorsets per week, with significant room for further growth. This new investment comes at a time of increasing demand for high quality, certified products, with a greater focus on compliant fire doors," David Oldfield, Arnold Laver director of joinery.
Ancala Partners closed the second infrastructure fund with €735m. (FS)
Ancala Partners, a UK-based investment company, closed its second infrastructure fundraise with €735m ($812m) of capital commitments. Ancala planned to use the fund to invest in mid-sized infrastructure companies in Europe.
“Our Fund has generated substantial interest from investors globally. We are grateful for their support and the confidence they have expressed in our abilities to add value through operational improvements and by growing our portfolio companies organically and from bolt-on acquisitions," Spence Clunie, Ancala Managing Partner.
Baring PE divests $101m stake in Manappuram Finance. (FS)
Baring Private Equity Partners divested a stake worth over $101m in Kerala-based gold loan financier Manappuram Finance. Baring India Private Equity Fund II and Baring India Private Equity Fund III offloaded a total of 4.1m shares at an average price of $2.4 apiece.
Buyers included Key Square Master Fund II, Copthall Mauritius Investment and Societe Generale, which bought a total of 5.8m shares at the same price, totalling to $55m.
The PE firm recorded a return of 6.4 times on its investment in absolute terms and secured an internal rate of return of 29%.
Perenti considers takeover of Downer's mining arm.
Australian mining services provider Perenti Global said it was considering buying Downer EDI’s mining servicing business, but dismissed a report of a $471m offer.
Downer is struggling with higher costs arising from loss-making construction contracts due to weak global business investment and a stuttering Australian economy, according to a Reuters report. The New South Wales-based firm slashed its profit forecast last month and flagged restructuring costs.
Central Retail prices its IPO at $2.6bn.
Thailand’s largest retailer, Central Retail, priced its initial public offering near the top end of an indicative range, in a deal worth about $2.6bn, setting up the listing of the country’s largest IPO this month. The company, controlled by the billionaire Chirathivat family’s Central Group, priced its IPO at $1.36 per share, according to a Reuters report.
The launch of the IPO comes as global markets have weakened on worries that a new coronavirus outbreak in China would dampen economic growth globally.
Singapore’s Vertex Holdings taps Japanese investors to widen reach. (FS)
Vertex, the venture capital arm of Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek, is diversifying its sources of funding by tapping an unusual group of Japanese companies and government agencies to fuel its global expansion at a time when many other investors feel skittish about cooling tech valuations.
Vertex last month began holding meetings with its Japanese investors, including the government-linked Development Bank of Japan, trading company Marubeni, consultant ABeam Consulting and Risa Partners, an investment bank, to discuss potential areas of collaboration with the roughly 200 startups that it invests in, according to a Deal Street Asia report.
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