Legg Mason announced that its shareholders have voted to approve its proposal of $6.5bn merger with Franklin Templeton, a global investment management organization. More than 99% of the votes cast were voted in favour of the merger. Subject to regulatory approval and other closing conditions, the companies expect the merger to close in the third quarter of this year.
"We are pleased to announce that our shareholders overwhelmingly support this transaction. As we continue our planning to integrate our two great companies, I'm excited for the possibilities of a new organization that continues to prioritize our clients, the ongoing independence of our investment organizations and a broad distribution footprint," Joseph A. Sullivan, Legg Mason Chairman and CEO.
Franklin Templeton is advised by Ardea Partners, Broadhaven Capital Partners, Morgan Stanley and Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Legg Mason is advised by JP Morgan, PJT Partners, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and Weil Gotshal and Manges. Legal advice to financial advisors is provided by Latham & Watkins.
AppLovin, a mobile games company, agreed to acquire Machine Zone, a developer of mobile games, for $500m.
“We have been impressed with Machine Zone’s masterful storylines and strong community of engaged players and have seen first hand the depth of their talented team. Machine Zone has amassed an enormous following for their games, and we are excited to bring together our two creative brands and market leading technology platforms to continue to entertain their millions of fans around the world,” Adam Foroughi, AppLovin Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder.
AppLovin is advised by LionTree Advisors and Fenwick & West. Machine Zone is advised by Houlihan Lokey.
Rand Logistics, a provider of marine bulk freight shipping, ship repair, and logistics services, and a portfolio company of American Industrial Partners, completed the acquisition of the American Steamship Company business of GATX, the global railcar lessor, for $260m.
"ASC is thrilled to be a part of the creation of a truly unique company with the scale and flexibility to meet the diverse needs of the Great Lakes region. ASC brings new asset classes to the combined company along with the efficient, highly qualified crews and shoreside personnel that operate them, all making the combined company one of the premier marine transportation companies in North America," David Foster, American Steamship Company President.
Clairvest Group, a private equity firm, completed the acquisition of the solar operations and maintenance business of SunPower, an American energy company. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"We believe that NovaSource will strengthen its position as the leading global solar O&M provider of scale in the coming years, serving the most sophisticated customers in the world as a preferred provider. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with SunPower, who built this great business, and look forward to a continuing relationship with them,” Ken Rotman, Clairvest CEO.
Homeward, a real estate service provider, raised $105m in an Adams Street Partners-led funding round. The $20m of equity financing was led by Adams Street Partners, with additional participation from Javelin Venture Partners and LiveOak Venture Partners. The $85m of debt was secured from multiple institutional lenders.
The new funding will allow the company to purchase more homes for its customers and expand its agent partnerships.
Facebook completed the acquisition of GIPHY, a web-based animated gif search engine and platform provider. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"We’ve used GIPHY’s API for years, not just in Instagram, but in the Facebook app, Messenger and WhatsApp. GIPHY will continue to operate its library (including its global content collection), and we’re looking forward to investing further in its technology and relationships with content and API partners. People will still be able to upload GIFs; developers and API partners will continue to have the same access to GIPHY’s APIs; and GIPHY’s creative community will still be able to create great content," Facebook.
Apple completed the acquisition of NextVR, a live events VR firm, producing VR video content based on special events including sports and musical performances. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The acquisition comes as Apple has been making a deeper push into entertainment and is reportedly developing a AR-VR headset.
Uber offer for Grubhub fans worries over delivery fees charged to restaurants.
The possibility that Uber Technologies could acquire Grubhub is reigniting some restaurants' worries over the commissions charged to eateries by the third-party delivery companies, Reuters reported.
Some small eateries have been vocal about their distaste for the services, which sometimes charge mom and pop restaurants - already operating on thin margins - as much as 15% to 30% commissions on each order while giving discounts breaks to chains like McDonald's.
Goldman Sachs considers purchase of Folio Financial.
Goldman Sachs Group intends to acquire Folio Financial, a boutique wealth management custodian and technology company, for an undisclosed amount of money, Reuters reported.
Folio would be the second wealth management company Goldman has acquired in two years, following United Capital in 2019, and it fulfills Chief Executive David Solomon's goals to build out the bank's other businesses.
Americold among bidders for Henningsen Cold Storage.
Americold Realty Trust, a provider of food-distribution services, is among bidders competing to acquire Henningsen Cold Storage, which could fetch more than $500m, Bloomberg reported.
Final bids for closely held Henningsen are expected in coming weeks, and Americold is set to compete against potential suitors including infrastructure funds.
Berkshire divests a majority of Goldman stake and cuts JP Morgan investment. (FS)
Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway divested most of its Goldman Sachs Group stake, a longtime holding that slumped nearly 33% during the first quarter as the global pandemic roiled financial markets, Bloomberg reported.
The company cut its investment in JP Morgan by 3% in the first quarter. Buffett's company has been a big investor in banks in the past, usually trying to keep many of those stakes below a 10% level often scrutinized by regulators.
PIF boosts US holdings with stakes in Citi, Boeing and Facebook. (FS)
Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, acquired minority stakes in major American companies including Boeing, Facebook and Citigroup, a regulatory filing showed, giving it a portfolio of nearly $10 bn in US-listed stocks, Reuters reported.
PIF disclosed stakes worth $714m in Boeing, nearly $522m in Citigroup, $522m in Facebook, $496m in Disney and $488m in Bank of America.
"PIF is a patient investor with a long-term horizon. As such, we actively seek strategic opportunities both in Saudi Arabia and globally that have strong potential to generate significant long-term returns while further benefiting the people of Saudi Arabia and driving the country's economic growth," Public Investment Fund.
Bain Capital targets to raise $9bn for its new buyout fund. (FS)
Bain Capital is planning to raise about $9bn for its next flagship global buyout fund, as the US alternative asset manager eyes to tap demand from yield-hungry investors, Bloomberg reported. The company started discussions with new and existing investors about the fund, which it aims to close later this year.
Bain Capital's last flagship fund closed in 2017 at $9.4bn, which included $8bn from investors and another $1.4bn from the firm's partners. Similar internal commitments could increase the eventual size of the new fund by a further 10% to 15%.
Rubicon Technology Partners raises over $1.25bn for its software-focused PE fund. (FS)
Rubicon Technology Partners, a private equity investor focused on enterprise software investments, closed its new fund, Rubicon Technology Partners III, at over $1.25bn, hitting its hard cap and exceeding the fund target of $850m in less than six months.
"The Rubicon team is honored to partner with a world-class set of investors that are aligned with our culture and strategy. We are very pleased to have received such strong support from our existing investors and welcome our new limited partners. We believe this successful fundraise is a reflection of Rubicon's track record of helping founders and management teams build market-leading companies. We are excited to continue executing our differentiated, proven strategy," Rubicon Technology Partners.
Rubicon was advised by Park Hill and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.
SelectQuote looks to raise $342m in IPO.
SelectQuote is looking to raise c. $342m in an IPO that could value the owner of the insurance policy comparison website at more than $3bn, Reuters reported.
The company will offer about 18m shares at between $17 and $19 per share, with selling stockholders offering another 7m shares, taking the overall amount expected to be raised to $475m.
Shift4 Payments files for US IPO.
Shift4 Payments, a payments technology firm, filed for its US initial public offering, at a time when more transactions are moving online due to coronavirus-led restrictions, Reuters reported. The company plans to list its Class A common shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "FOUR".
Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are among the underwriters of the IPO.
London Stock Exchange Group finally sought European Union approval for its $27bn bid for data provider Refinitiv, kick-starting one of the most closely watched deal reviews of the year, Bloombergreported. The EU’s merger control authority set an initial June 22 deadline for regulators to examine the deal.
The companies had initially planned to file the deal by March, after the UK quit the EU but before the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31. Filing now allows the EU to weigh the impact of the tie-up for all of the region, including the UK.
Refinitiv is advised by Canson Capital Partners, Evercore, Jefferies & Company, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Osler Hoskin & Harcourt, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and Eterna Partners. LSEG is advised by RBC Capital Markets, Oliver Wyman, Barclays, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Robey Warshaw, Blake Cassels & Graydon, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Teneo. CPPIB is advised by Weil Gotshal and Manges. Thomson Reuters is advised by Allen & Overy.
WABCO Holdings, a supplier of braking control systems and other advanced technologies, and ZF Friedrichshafen, a global technology company, announced that the Chinese State Administration for Market Regulation provided regulatory clearance for their previously announced merger.
All required regulatory approvals have now been received, and WABCO and ZF expect to close the merger on May 29, 2020, subject to the satisfaction of all other closing conditions.
WABCO is advised by Goldman Sachs, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Kekst CNC. ZF is advised by JP Morgan, Lazard, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Gleiss Lutz, Latham & Watkins, NautaDutilh, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. Debt financing is provided by JP Morgan. JP Morgan is advised by Clifford Chance. Legal advice to financial advisors is provided by Latham & Watkins.
A consortium of private investors including former management of Bridge Farm, is to acquire Bridge Farm Group, a producer of ornamental plants, flowers and herbs from Sundial Growers, a cannabis grower, for $90m.
"We are pleased to have reached an agreement to sell Bridge Farm as we work to restructure our business and bring focus to our operations. This divestiture will allow us to focus on our core strength in premium inhalable products for the Canadian recreational market. I would like to thank the Bridge Farm team for their leadership and courage in the face of Covid-19 as well as our lenders for their continued support," Zach George, Sundial CEO.
Microsoft is set to acquire Metaswitch Networks, a provider of virtualized network software and voice, data and communications solutions for operators. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"Metaswitch’s complementary portfolio of ultra-high-performance, cloud-native communications software will expand our range of offerings available for the telecommunications industry. Microsoft intends to leverage the talent and technology of these two organizations, extending the Azure platform to both deploy and grow these capabilities at scale in a way that is secure, efficient and creates a sustainable ecosystem,” Microsoft.
Triton Partners, a private equity firm, completed the acquisition of Lamina Technologies, a manufacturer of multi-material carbide cutting tools for SME across different industries. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"We want to support the management and employees of Lamina by investing in and supporting the continued growth and development of the company. We look forward to working together with the management team to strengthen the company’s position among its customers and across regions," Peder Prahl, Triton Director.
Sasol considers divestments to pay off $10bn of debt.
Sasol, an integrated energy and chemical company, considers additional divestments, including the potential sale of stakes in an African gas pipeline and a Middle Eastern plant, as it explores ways to reduce its $10bn debt pile, Bloombergreported.
South Africa's Sasol is working with advisers to examine its 49% stake in Oryx GTL, which runs a gas-to-liquids plant in Qatar. It is also weighing options for its upstream business Sasol Exploration & Production International as well as its 50% holding in the Rompco gas pipeline.
Sasol is examining various avenues to shore up its finances as it grapples with pressure from creditors. The company hired Bank of America to find a buyer for a minority stake in its $13bn Lake Charles chemical complex in the US.
Compass Group considers a $2bn share sale.
Compass Group, a catering service provider, is considering raising c. $2bn in new equity to help navigate the coronavirus pandemic, in what could become the UK's biggest share sale this year. The firm is considering selling shares equal to c. 10 % of its issued capital.
Compass Group could announce the fundraising as soon as this week. Its shares have fallen 42% in London trading this year, giving the company a market value of about $21bn.
"We continue to evaluate the merits of a range of options that would further increase our resilience through the current situation and enable us to continue to invest in the business," Compass Group.
Abu Dhabi Sheikh is in talks to acquire a stake in Amanat.
A company backed by Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is in discussions to acquire a stake in Amanat Holdings, an investment firm with interests in health and education, which is valued at $523m. It is still not clear which entity Sheikh Tahnoon would use for the potential transaction, Bloomberg reported.
No final decisions have been made, and discussions over an investment in Amanat could still fall apart. A representative for Royal Group, where Sheikh Tahnoon is chairman, said none of the companies under his management has plans to invest in Amanat.
Virgin Atlantic pitches rescue plan to 12 potential investors.
Virgin Atlantic Airways' ability to avoid collapse could come down to about a dozen potential investors who tuned into a video presentation on the airline's coronavirus survival plan, Bloomberg reported.
CEO Shai Weiss pitched the firms in a simultaneous online link-up. He mapped out how the airline would claw its way back to profitability after the travel downturn upended Virgin Atlantic's turnaround effort, putting it at risk of becoming the second carrier founded by Richard Branson to be felled by the pandemic.
To get the chance to execute its plan, Virgin Atlantic will need to convince at least one of the suitors to invest. Branson has pledged to chip in, but a more significant cash injection will be required after Britain rebuffed an initial application for $610m in state-guaranteed loans. The government wants the airline to raise more cash privately before contemplating what could be a politically contentious bailout.
BT says Openreach sale report was "inaccurate".
BT, a British multinational telecommunications holding company, said that a report in the Financial Times that it was in talks about divesting a stake in its networks business Openreach was "inaccurate", Reuters reported.
"Many of you will have seen the reports overnight about BT being in talks to sell a stake in Openreach. I spoke to Philip Jansen last night after the story broke in the newspapers. He is very clear - the story is inaccurate. Openreach is staying in the BT Group," Clive Selley, Openreach CEO.
Czech government considers buying 100% of Smartwings airline group.
The Czech government could buy up to 100% of airline operator Smartwings, the owner of Czech Airlines, or offer the national flag carrier state-guaranteed loans, Reuters reported.
Finance Minister Alena Schillerova backed the idea of purchasing the group, as airlines have grounded planes as governments have imposed lockdowns and advised against international travel to limit the coronavirus spreading.
"We are not saying that it will happen, but I look out for the interests of transport and industry. In this view, I think it is necessary to protect this type of firm, not only this type but others also," Karel Havlicek, Transport Minister.
MKB and MTB enter merger talks.
MKB and MTB, two Hungarian commercial banks, are in talks over a merger to create the country's second-largest bank, opening a new chapter in the shake-up of a banking system that has seen local players gain influence since Prime Minister Viktor Orban took power, Reuters reported.
The combined entity would have 1.3m customers, 840 branches, and a balance sheet of $13bn, which would make it the second-largest banking group in Hungary. Each lender would own half of the new entity.
The banks will apply to form the new holding company to the National Bank of Hungary later this month.
Renewables Infrastructure Group acquires stake in a German wind farm and exits Swedish project. (FS)
The Renewables Infrastructure Group, a British investment trust, completed the acquisition of a 36% stake in a 396-megawatt offshore wind farm in the German North Sea. Dutch pension investor APG acquired the remaining 64% in the project. Financial terms were not disclosed.
TRIG also exited from Ersträsk, a Swedish onshore wind project, being developed by Enercon due to construction delays. TRIG invested in 75% of the equity in phase 1 upon it becoming operational in the first quarter of 2019 and had intended to invest in 75% of phase 2 when operational.
Redstone is raising a $217m fund. (FS)
Redstone Digital, a Berlin-based venture capital firm, is raising a $217m fund, led by SBI Holdings. The fund will invest in startups focusing on the fourth industrial revolution, Bloomberg reported.
The Future Industry Ventures Fund will invest $11m per company in later growth phases, said Samuli Siren, Redstone Managing Partner. The fund is still raising cash and could raise as much as $270m.
"We opted for a joint venture out of the conviction that Europe has some still unrivaled strength in innovation and technological expertise for sustainable industry solutions," Yoshitaka Kitao, SBI CEO.
Boohoo plans to raise up to $243m as it eyes acquisitions.
Boohoo, an online fashion retailer, intends to raise up to £200m ($243m) to fund possible acquisitions that might arise following the Covid-19 crisis, FT reported.
The Manchester-based group, which had more than £240m ($292m) of net cash at the end of February, said it planned to "take advantage of numerous opportunities that are likely to emerge in the global fashion industry over the coming months." The company added that it was reviewing several possible M&A deals.
Mark Barnett to leave Invesco. (People)
Mark Barnett, one of the best-known fund managers, is set to leave Invesco after working 24 years for the asset manager, FN reported. His departure comes after a review led by Invesco's Chief Investment Officer Stephanie Butcher. James Goldstone and Ciaran Mallon will take over as co-managers of the open-ended funds that Barnett had managed.
"As we reorganize the UK Equities portfolio and after discussion with Mark Barnett, we have mutually concluded that this is the right time for him to hand over the leadership of these funds and leave Invesco," Stephanie Butcher, Invesco Chief Investment Officer.
Warburg Pincus names new co-heads for European business. (FS, People)
Warburg Pincus named managing directors René Obermann and Adarsh Sarma as co-heads of the firm's European business, starting from 1 June, PE News reported.
René Obermann, who has more than 20 years of operational and management experience, currently runs the firm's Berlin office. He has been with Warburg Pincus for five years. Adarsh Sarma joined Warburg Pincus in 2005 in New York, where he was responsible for leading the Firm's Payments and Education related investing.
A unit of state-owned China Nonferrous Metal Mining Group said its proposal to acquire shares in an affiliate with African copper and cobalt assets had not received enough support from shareholders. The proposal was backed by less than 55% of votes from small- and medium-sized shareholders, Reutersreported.
China Nonferrous Metal Industry’s Foreign Engineering and Construction had planned to buy CNMC’s 74.52% stake in China Nonferrous Mining $1bn via a share placement.
Sequoia China and Tencent completed a $244m investment in Shimao Property, a diversified real estate development company. Sequoia invested $130m, and Tencent provided $114m.
Shimao will use the capital to improve its operating efficiency by digitizing its services and adopting technology such as cloud computing and big data.
Bain, Brookfield, InterGlobe, BGH and Deutsche Bank among bidders for Virgin Australia. (FS)
Virgin Australia is expected to receive as many as eight non-binding indicative offers from potential buyers, including Brookfield Asset Management, Bain Capital, BGH Capital and Deutsche Bank. Binding offers for Virgin Australia are due on June 12.
The offers for the country's second-biggest airline, which entered voluntary administration last month owing creditors nearly $4.5bn, will be whittled down to a shortlist of about three in coming days.
Administrator Vaughan Strawbridge said in a statement that eight of the nearly 20 parties that had accessed the company's data room had been advanced enough in their interest to be given its forward-looking Virgin 2.0 business plan.
CPPIB and CDPQ stop India investments due to the virus. (FS)
The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec halted some of their investments in India as the pension funds evaluate the impact of Covid-19 on businesses in Asia's third-largest economy. A pause in investments by these major pension funds reflects a mood of risk aversion among institutional investors, which are now focusing more on protecting their existing investments instead of making more capital commitments.
Collectively, these two pension funds have more than $500bn in assets under management and are among the most bullish institutional investors in India, having made numerous investments in both public and private markets, including setting up large platforms for investments in India’s infrastructure sector.
Eni to dispose of Australia gas assets for c. $1bn.
Eni, an Italian energy group, is working with Citigroup to divest its natural gas assets in Australia that could fetch up to $1bn, Reutersreported.
The sale, which is expected to be launched next week in a two-round process, could see Eni all but exit from Australia. The Italian group has chosen to sell the assets to raise cash after the global downturn resulting from the coronavirus pandemic led to a sharp drop in oil prices.
Myanmar's $800m tower sale shortlists CVC and Guodong. (FS)
CVC Capital Partners, a private equity firm, and Guodong Group, a Chinese wireless infrastructure company, are among shortlisted bidders for Myanmar's biggest telecommunications tower company, in a deal worth as much as $800m, Bloombergreported.
Malaysia's largest wireless operator Axiata Group's unit edotco Group proceeded into the next round of bidding for Irrawaddy Green Towers. Binding bids are due in the next few weeks.
ByteDance-backed Hupu seeks $100m in a new funding round.
ByteDance-backed Hupu Sports Shanghai Media, a Chinese sports commentary and news portal, seeks to raise about $100m in a new funding round before its planned initial public offering, Bloomberg reported.
The pre-IPO round could potentially value Hupu at about $700m. The fundraising size and valuation target are preliminary and could still change as discussions continue.
Changyuan Donggu plans to raise $129m in Shanghai IPO.
Xiangyang Changyuan Donggu Industry, a Chinese diesel engine parts manufacturer and distributor, intends to raise $129m in an initial public offering on the Main Board of the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
KKR picks Gaurav Trehan to head its India PE business. (FS, People)
KKR & Co selected Gaurav Trehan, a partner from rival buyout firm TPG, to manage its private equity business in India, Bloombergreported. Trehan, who joined TPG in 2004, left the company this month. Sanjay Nayar, CEO of KKR's India unit, has been overseeing the business so far.
KKR is predicting the coronavirus crisis will eventually be another inflection point for its business even as its holdings take a hit. Scott Nuttall, co-president of KKR, stated that the possibilities for the firm to expand are even greater now than during the last financial crisis.
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