Several public advocacy groups called on US regulators to block a bid by budget carriers Frontier Group Holdings and Spirit Airlines to create the fifth-largest US airline, Reuters reported.
Public Citizen, Fight for the Future, the American Economic Liberties Project and other six groups said to the Transportation and Justice Departments that a merger between the ultra-low-cost carriers "would destroy competition in the only competitive market segment of the highly consolidated airline industry."
Spirit Airlines is advised by Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Debevoise & Plimpton and Sard Verbinnen & Co. Barclays is advised by Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and Sullivan & Cromwell. Indigo Partners is advised by Lambert & Co. Frontier Group is advised by Citigroup, Latham & Watkins and Joele Frank.
Pfizer, a pharmaceutical and biotechnology corporation, completed the acquisition of Arena Pharmaceuticals, a clinical stage company developing potential therapies for the treatment of several immuno-inflammatory diseases, for $6.7bn.
"We are excited to add the impressive experience and pipeline of Arena Pharmaceuticals to Pfizer's Inflammation and Immunology therapeutic area, helping us further our purpose of developing breakthroughs to change the lives of those with immuno-inflammatory diseases. In particular, we're hopeful that we can accelerate clinical development of etrasimod successfully to have a positive impact on those living with these debilitating diseases," Mike Gladstone, Pfizer Inflammation and Immunology Global President & General Manager.
Arena Pharmaceuticals was advised by Evercore, Guggenheim Partners and Cooley. Evercore was advised by Debevoise & Plimpton. Pfizer was advised by Bank of America, Centerview Partners, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer and Ropes & Gray.
Verso, an American owned and operated producer of graphic, specialty and packaging paper and market pulp, announced during a special meeting of stockholders held, its stockholders voted to approve the previously announced acquisition from BillerudKorsnäs, a provider of packaging materials and solutions, as well as other related proposals.
The proposal was supported by approximately 98.5% of votes cast, representing approximately 73% of outstanding shares of Verso's common stock. Verso and BillerudKorsnäs now expect the deal to close in late March or April of 2022, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including the receipt of approvals from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.
Verso is advised by Rothschild & Co and Kirkland & Ellis. Rothschild & Co is advised by Sullivan & Cromwell. BillerudKorsnäs is advised by Bank of America, Danske Bank, SEB Corporate Finance, Cederquist and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom.
Gore Street to acquire eight storage assets of SER Capital Partners-backed Perfect Power Solutions Texas, a utility services provider. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"We are pleased to be able to announce a further landmark international acquisition shortly after our entry into the energy storage market in continental Europe, highlighting the manager's ability to acquire value accretive assets across the globe. The acquisition further underpins our push into international markets, where they exhibit the same favourable characteristics as in GB and Ireland, meeting our returns criteria," Alex O'Cinneide, Gore Street Capital CEO.
Gore Street is advised by JP Morgan and Buchanan. Perfect Power is advised by Jones Day.
Wind Point Partners-backed Zone Climate Services, a provider of HVAC services, completed the acquisition of Smart Care Equipment Solutions, a national service provider of commercial food equipment services, from Audax Private Equity, a private equity firm. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“Smart Care and its portfolio of companies have a track record of exceptional growth and I am excited to work with their skilled management team. We share a common vision of superior service for customers, a best-in-class workplace for technicians, and aggressive pursuit of acquisitions. We will combine under the Smart Care banner with Zone Climate Services being rebranded Smart Care Climate Solutions, which provides a tremendous opportunity to better serve more customers as a united group," Henry Lees-Buckley, Zone Climate Services CEO.
Audax Private Equity was advised by Harris Williams & Co, Ropes & Gray and Sard Verbinnen & Co.
Petro-Hunt, an oil and gas exploration firm, completed the acquisition of Admiral Permian Resources Operating, an oil and gas firm. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Current gross operated production from the assets being acquired is approximately 7k bopd and 100 mmcfpd on 21.4k net acres of leasehold. Petro-Hunt plans to commence an active development drilling program on these assets later this year.
APR Operating was advised by Jefferies & Company and Kirkland & Ellis.
TPG Rise, the climate investing strategy of TPG, agreed to invest in Monarch Bioenergy, a joint venture between Roeslein Alternative Energy and Smithfield Foods. Financial terms are not disclosed.
"For years, Rudi Roeslein and his eponymous company RAE have been developing proven, market-based solutions to demands for both sustainable agriculture and renewable energy. Applying RAE's anaerobic digester technology, as well as additional circular technologies and environmental protections, to Smithfield's hog farms is a significant and meaningful step towards addressing methane emissions at their source. Advancing and scaling proven GHG abating technologies like those used by Monarch is central to our mission at TPG Rise Climate, and we look forward to working with RAE and Smithfield to advance and drive operational best practices for these emerging technologies," Marc Mezvinsky, TPG Rise Business Unit Partner.
TPG Rise is advised by Kirkland & Ellis. Smithfield is advised by Hunton Andrews Kurth.
i80 Group, an investment firm, completed a $204m investment in Society Brands, a tech-enabled consumer products company.
"Society Brands is a new Amazon aggregator coming into the space with a differentiated 'founder- friendly' approach to acquiring businesses. Society Brands is one of the first to encourage the founder to stay on board and be part of something meaningful in the future. With this unique model and its well-equipped executive team, we are confident in Society Brands' ability to take acquired companies to the next level," Asher Hochberg, i80 Group Managing Director.
Society Brands was advised by SenaHill Partners and The Brand Amp.
MeridianLink, a provider of software platforms for financial institutions and consumer reporting agencies, agreed to acquire StreetShares, a financial technology company. Financial terms are not disclosed.
"StreetShares' commitment to providing lenders across the US with state-of-the-art business lending capabilities, including business loans, automated decisioning, and business lines of credit, aligns with our focus on empowering more banks and credit unions to better serve consumers and communities. Adding the StreetShares team, technology, and strong partnerships with organizations like Fiserv to the MeridianLink family will accelerate our small business lending capabilities and further strengthen our MeridianLink One platform," Nicolaas Vlok, MeridianLink CEO.
Private equity firm Advent International completed the acquisition of the Mexico and Brazil-based over-the-counter unit of Perrigo Company, an American Irish–registered manufacturer of private label over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"After a thorough review, we concluded Perrigo does not have sufficient scale in its Latin American businesses, which are dilutive to the Company's '3/5/7' growth algorithm. As the path to improving margins in these regions would be further dilutive for the foreseeable future, the decision was made to exit these businesses. We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Advent and look forward to ensuring a seamless transition. We thank all the Mexico and Brazil-based employees for their service to Perrigo and are confident the businesses will do well under Advent's ownership as these are key areas of focus for their company," Murray S. Kessler, Perrigo CEO and President.
Oxford Biomedica, a gene and cell therapy company, and Homology Medicines, a genetic medicines company, formed Oxford Biomedica Solutions. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"We are delighted to have closed this transaction. Oxford Biomedica is transforming into an innovative global viral vector leader that provides solutions to cell and gene therapy biotech and biopharma companies for their process development and manufacturing needs. Our ambition is to become a leading partner of choice with advanced capabilities across key vector types. This transaction also sees us form our first US operating subsidiary, located close to customers, talent, innovation in academia and pools of capital, which will enhance our market leadership position working across key viral vector types. Oxford Biomedica is in a strong position to enable our customers to bring their new medicines to many more patients and change their lives," Roch Doliveux, Oxford Biomedica Chairman and CEO.
Oxford Biomedica was advised by Consilium Strategic Communications.
SMT, a distributor and after-sales partner for the equipment and transport industry, completed the acquisition of ROMCO Equipment, a distributor of heavy equipment. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"The end has come for involvement of the Mullins family in ROMCO, but it's a bright new beginning under SMT's ownership. The construction and mining industries have been in my life ever since I was a young boy tagging along with my father, ROMCO founder Robert O. Mullins. SMT will provide the leadership and resources needed to meet the industry's future. I will truly miss all the great employees and customers I have had the privilege to be associated with these 50 plus years," Robert Mullins, ROMCO Owner and CEO.
Easy Ice, an national provider of full-service ice machine subscription solutions, completed the acquisition of the leasing division of Arctic Glacier, a packaged ice company. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"After more than 45 years in business, Arctic Glacier and Icesurance have achieved extraordinary success in the commercial ice machine industry. We're equipped to continue that legacy. With this acquisition, we have strengthened our presence in the two largest metropolitan areas in the nation with local resources that enable us to provide best-in-class service to clients in both regions," Mark Hangen, Easy Ice CEO.
Exxon weighs Bakken asset sale.
Exxon Mobil, an oil and gas firm, is considering a sale of assets in North Dakota’s Bakken shale after being approached by interested parties.
The oil giant could get about $5bn for the Bakken assets. Exxon is in the final round of interviewing bankers to help launch a sale process. Exxon hasn’t made a final decision on pursuing a sale and its plans could still change.
Exxon is aggressively cutting costs in a bid to boost shareholder returns amid higher oil prices. The company also has been focused on improving the quality of its barrels and generated $3bn of cash proceeds from divesting assets during 2021, Bloomberg reported.
EnCap plans $4bn plus sale of oil producer Ameredev II. (FS)
Private equity firm EnCap Investments is exploring a sale of US oil producer Ameredev II, seeking more than $4bn including debt for the Delaware Basin operator.
EnCap bulked up Ameredev II in December by merging it with another of its portfolio companies, Advance Energy Partners. It has hired a bank to launch an auction for the combined company in the coming weeks, Reuters reported.
RBC's top finance banker says deals may persist amid volatility.
Royal Bank of Canada’s top investment banker for financial institutions says industry consolidation may continue even amid market volatility caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Bloomberg reported.
"Financial firms will remain constructive in their strategic dialogue and may still complete deals with the right partners. It remains to be seen how long the conflict will last and whether the market will adjust to the situation similar to how it did with Covid-19," Venkat Badinehal, RBC Managing Director and Head of Financial Institutions.
Savage X Fenty weighs IPO at $3bn valuation.
Savage X Fenty, a lingerie brand founded by singer-turned-fashion-entrepreneur Rihanna, is working with advisors on an initial public offering that could value the firm at $3bn or more.
Savage X Fenty is working with banks including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. A listing could happen as soon as this year. Savage X Fenty hasn’t made a final decision on an IPO and its plans, including the timing, could still change, Bloomberg reported.
Chobani to postpone US IPO.
Chobani, an yogurt maker, is deferring plans for an initial public offering based on current market conditions.
Chobani which filed in November to go public, has required its IPO to be hold until at minimum the last part of this current year or ahead of schedule one year from now, depending upon whether the market improves, Bloomberg reported.
Makers Fund raises $500m Fund III. (FS)
Global interactive entertainment venture capital firm Makers Fund has closed a $500m fund to invest in founders who are evolving and innovating the ecosystem. The fund is Makers Fund’s third and largest, after a $200m fund raised in 2017, and a $260m fund in 2020.
“The Makers Fund approach is to be a partner for entrepreneurs building innovative games, tools and technology that will define the next generation of interactive entertainment. We treat our investments as partnerships, providing founders with a deep support system and strategic guidance from a network of advisors who are equally passionate and committed to the gaming industry. As one of the first gaming funds, we believe introducing long-term capital demonstrates the opportunity ahead and guarantees our support of the industry for decades to come," Jay Chi, Makers Fund Founding Partner.
Carlyle, an investment firm, agreed to acquire Dainese Group, a designer and manufacturer of protective equipment for motorcycling and dynamic sports. Financial terms are not disclosed.
"We were attracted by the company's unique brand identity, long heritage and leadership in innovation. Leveraging our global network and expertise in scaling consumer brands, we are excited to support Dainese in the next chapter of its growth journey, building upon its distinctive customer-centric 'head-to-toe' product offering and unmatched technical excellence," Massimiliano Caraffa, Carlyle Managing Director.
Carlyle is advised by Bank of America, DVR Capital, Unicredit and Latham & Watkins.
CVC Capital Partners, a private equity firm, agreed to acquire RGI, a software firm, from Corsair Capital, a private equity firm. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“CVC has a wealth of experience and an impressive track record helping companies accelerate their growth. We’re delighted to have found another team whose values are aligned with our own and who are committed to our future as a leader in the digitization of the European insurance market. On behalf of everyone at RGI, we’d like to thank Corsair for their invaluable guidance and support as we transformed our business under their stewardship," Cécile André Leruste, RGI Group CEO.
RGI is advised by Arma Partners and Edelman. Corsair Capital is advised by Sard Verbinnen & Co.
Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board, an institutional investor, led a $275m funding round in Lendable, an AI-powered consumer finance platform.
"Lendable's seamless, quick and easy to use products, powered by advanced AI, are shaping the future of consumer finance. We're delighted to work with Martin and his visionary team to deliver on Lendable's growth ambitions," Olivia Steedman, OTPP Senior Managing Director.
Sofina, an investment company, led a $135m Series C funding round in Typeform, a conversational interaction platform, with participation from General Atlantic, Index Ventures, Point Nine Capital, Connect Ventures, Top Tier Capital Partners, GP Bullhound, Teamworthy Ventures and Trium Venture Partners.
"The accelerated consumer shift to digital channels and increasing importance of digital native brands are driving the need to build closer online engagement with customers. Typeform's conversational solutions generate higher response rates and provide richer insights to improve consumers' experiences. Sofina is proud to support Typeform's vision and dynamic team as it continues to build incredibly versatile solutions that serve a wide range of use cases," Benjamin Sabatier, Sofina Principal.
777 Partners, a private equity firm, agreed to acquire Standard de Liège, a Belgian football club. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"777 Partners is delighted to take up this new challenge in order to help our club continue its development and regain its former glory. The American alternative investment company was particularly attracted by several essential characteristics of our institution," Standard de Liège.
bp and Eni, two oil and gas companies, agreed to form Azule Energy. Financial terms are not disclosed.
"Angola has long been important for bp operations and this innovative new venture underscores and enables our continued commitment to the country. Eni is a valued partner to be working within the region. Azule Energy draws on our combined strengths and skills and, more importantly, is anchored in our shared values and beliefs about what the future of energy should be. Ultimately Azule Energy will be able to drive efficiencies and realize new opportunities across an expanded and truly exciting portfolio," Bernard Looney, bp CEO.
France weighs fresh move to nationalize $30bn power giant EDF.
The French government is considering whether to revive an ambitious plan to nationalize debt-laden EDF and reorganize its business with a focus on nuclear production.
The energy market chaos exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine is giving fresh impetus to France’s long-mooted push to restructure its biggest power supplier. Officials have been having early talks with potential advisers about the idea of buying out EDF’s minority shareholders and delisting the company from the stock market.
The government, already the biggest investor in EDF with an 84% holding, would like to keep ownership of the company’s domestic business and may review its international operations. If officials decide to proceed, any plans would only move forward after the French elections, assuming President Emmanuel Macron remains in power. EDF could divest stakes in some overseas holdings, including its renewable assets in many geographies, Bloomberg reported.
Deutsche Telekom launches a $20bn auction of mobile towers.
Deutsche Telekom has started the sale process of its towers business and expects indicative offers in the next couple of weeks.
The German company is working with Goldman Sachs as advisor in the sale of its 40.6k masts, in a deal that could value the business at close to $20bn. Spanish mobile telephone infrastructure operator Cellnex and US-based American Tower are both readying offers, as they race to expand in Europe for the roll-out of next-generation 5G technology.
The deal may also attract interest from private equity groups or competitors such as Vodafone's Vantage or Orange's Totem, Reuters reported.
Getir nears the funding at $11.8bn valuation. (FS)
Turkish grocery-delivery startup Getir is nearing a deal to raise roughly $800m in a funding round featuring a $250m check from lead investor Mubadala that values the company at about $11.8bn.
Rick Gerson’s firm Alpha Wave Global, previously known as Falcon Edge Capital, is set to join existing investors including Mubadala; Abu Dhabi’s state holding company ADQ; Sequoia and Tiger Global in the new round, Bloomberg reported.
Pearson rejects a $8.5bn approach from Apollo Global. (FS)
Pearson said it had rejected two takeover approaches from investment firm Apollo Global, saying its latest $8.5bn possible cash offer undervalued the global education group, which was confident in its own strategy.
Apollo's earlier statement saying it was considering a bid sent shares in the British company up 22%, a welcome boost after it spent seven years navigating the switch from traditional learning to online, as students ditched textbooks. Pearson said Apollo's second unsolicited, preliminary and highly conditional $11.13 per share proposal, up from an initial $10.42, significantly undervalued the company. The second offer values Pearson at $8.5bn, Reuters reported.
Were it to proceed, this wouldn’t be Apollo Global Management’s first foray into the sector: it bought Pearson’s biggest US competitor McGraw Hill, and attempted to merge it with another publisher, Cengage Group. That deal faced competition concerns, and Apollo Global Management then sold McGraw Hill to rival buyout firm Platinum Equity in June last year.
CVC and Bain Capital line up bids for a $1.7bn stake in Ligue 1. (FS)
Buyout funds including CVC Capital Partners and Bain Capital are lining up preliminary bids for a stake worth some $1.7bn in the French football league's media rights business.
Advent, Apollo, Bridgepoint, EQT, KKR and Silver Lake are also looking to submit offers for a stake of up to 20% in a new media rights company that the Ligue de Football Professionnel plans to set up.
The Ligue, home to soccer stars such as PSG's Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, has asked bidders to submit non-binding offers by a deadline of December 13, Reuters reported.
Goldman Sachs eyes stake in Nucleus. (FS)
Goldman Sachs is one of four private equity investors believed to be interested in buying a stake in Nucleus, following its acquisition by James Hay’s private equity owner Epiris last year.
The other three private equity firms interested in buying a slice of the advised investment platform are said to include Centerbridge Partners, GTCR and HPS.
The value of James Hay and Nucleus combined sits at around £700m ($915m). It is understood that Epiris’ stake in Nucleus will shrink if these new backers do enter the mix, FT Adviser reported.
Maersk plans to sell stakes in Russian ports over the Ukraine war.
A.P. Moller-Maersk, the Danish transport giant, will sell its holdings in Russian ports due to the war in Ukraine.
Maersk plans to divest its 30.75% stake in Global Ports Investments, which controls six terminals in Russia and two in Finland, the Copenhagen-based company. It didn’t identify a potential buyer.
“We have today informed our joint venture partners and GPI that we wish to take steps to divest our shares following the invasion of Ukraine and the operational challenges,” Maersk.
Banco BPM weighs sale, partnership for payments unit.
Banco BPM is considering a possible sale or partnership for its payments unit, as Italy’s third-largest bank shifts strategy in a bid to maximize shareholder value.
Banco BPM is moving away from restructuring and shifting toward sustainable returns by strengthening and reviewing areas like asset management, private banking, consumer credit and insurance while pushing forward digitalization, Bloomberg reported.
“We are examining all the options for our merchant-acquiring business, including a disposal or a joint venture agreement. In the past Banco BPM’s moves to value its assets were done to finance derisking, now our purpose is to ensure significant remuneration for shareholders," Edoardo Ginevra, Banco BPM Chief Financial Officer.
JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs lead Wall Street's retreat from Russia.
JP Morgan joined Goldman Sachs in pulling back from Russia in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine last month.
JP Morgan, the biggest US bank, is currently engaging in limited activities in the country, the New York-based company said in a statement. Goldman Sachs said it plans to close its operations there, Bloomberg reported.
“Current activities are limited, including helping global clients address and close out pre-existing obligations; managing their Russia-related risk; acting as a custodian to our clients; and taking care of our employees,” JP Morgan.
Delta, Air France-KLM eye majority stake in ITA Airways.
Delta Airlines and Air France-KLM have teamed up with an unidentified fund to express an interest in a majority stake in ITA Airways, setting the stage for a potential bid battle for the successor to Alitalia.
The expression of interest was presented to Italy's government in a letter. A further expression of interest arrived from another international fund which is already invested in low-cost carriers, Reuters reported.
Tecom selected banks for IPO.
Tecom Group, a software developer in broadcasting and telecommunications sector, is holding meetings with select investors after lining up banks to help arrange a potential listing in Dubai.
The firm has hired Emirates NBD Bank, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and UBS. The meetings that started last week were the first of a series of planned engagements with investors ahead of the potential listing.
A listing could come as soon as the middle of this year, though details on the potential size or valuation were not immediately available. Deliberations are ongoing and no final decisions on the timeframe have been taken.
Byju Raveendran, an entrepreneur and co-founder of Byju's, led a $800m funding round in Byju's, an educational technology company, with participation from BlackRock, Sumeru Ventures and Vitruvian Partners.
The funding round closed while Byju's was negotiating with at least three special-purpose acquisition companies with plans to go public via a merger.
Sequoia Capital China, a venture capital firm, led a $120m Series A and A+ funding round in XVERSE, a platform develops 3D user-generated content, with participation from Temasek, CPE, Gaorong Capital, 5Y Capital and GL Ventures.
India tightens IPO valuation scrutiny, jolts startups eyeing listings.
India has tightened scrutiny of IPO-bound firms by questioning how key internal business metrics are used to arrive at valuations, unsettling bankers and companies which fear delays in listing plans.
India‘s push comes after the flop listing of SoftBank Group-backed payments firm Paytm’s $2.5bn IPO in November which sparked criticism of lax oversight of how loss-making companies price issues at what some say are lofty valuations.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India last month flagged concerns in proposing stricter disclosures, saying more and more new-age tech firms which generally remain loss making for a longer period were filing for IPOs, and traditional financial disclosures may not aid investors. But even before the proposal is finalised, SEBI has in recent weeks asked many companies to get their non-financial metrics — KPIs, or key performance indicators — audited, and then explain how they were used to arrive at an IPO’s valuation, Reuters reported.
Chinese startups' SPAC listings gather pace as tougher offshore IPO rules loom.
Capital-hungry smaller Chinese startups are vying for speedy offshore listings by merging with blank-check firms at a time when Beijing's tighter scrutiny has slowed capital raising via overseas IPOs.
As a string of special purpose acquisition companies hunt for targets to merge with, the startups see an opportunity to raise funds and get listed by cutting the time and regulatory rigour needed for traditional market debuts, Reuters reported.
Wanda's mall unit delays $3bn Hong Kong IPO. (FS)
Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group has put a planned Hong Kong initial public offering for its shopping mall unit on hold. Wanda had planned to list the unit in the first half of this year.
Zhuhai Wanda Commercial Management Group has delayed the listing due to recent market volatility. Challenging conditions in China's real estate sector have also affected the firm's IPO prospects.
The unit's IPO could have raised about $3bn. Asian private equity firm PAG, property developer Country Garden Holdings and technology company Tencent Holdings were among the firms weighing joining a pre-IPO funding round of about $6bn last year, Bloomberg reported.
Navi Technologies files for a $440m IPO.
Navi Technologies, the fintech startup founded by technology billionaire Sachin Bansal, has filed initial documents for a $440m initial share sale, a sign India’s technology startup industry hasn’t fully lost IPO momentum.
Navi may also consider a pre-IPO placement up to $87m. If the pre-IPO placement is undertaken, the size of the fresh issue will be reduced to the extent of placement.
ICICI Securities, Bank of America, Axis Capital, Credit Suisse and Edelweiss are the book running lead managers to the IPO.
V3 Brands Asia revives plans for Hong Kong IPO.
V3 Brands Asia, the consumer brands segment of Singapore billionaire Ron Sim’s privately-held V3 Group, has revived plans to list on the Hong Kong bourse. The revived listing plans come as the Singapore-based company’s financials have improved.
Upon listing, V3 Brands will use its net proceeds to primarily repay its bank loan amounting to $145m. The rest will be allocated to improve digitalisations, brand awareness, store network, and market expansion. Goldman Sachs and China International Capital are the joint sponsors for the deal.