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Reverence-backed Advisor Group, an independent wealth management firm, completed the merger with Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services, a publicly-traded diversified financial services company, in a $1.3bn deal.
"We are thrilled to complete this transformational merger with Advisor Group. We believe the transaction will help our financial advisors accelerate the growth of their businesses while continuing to benefit from the highly personalized service experience they have always enjoyed," Richard Lampen, Ladenburg Thalmann Chairman, President, and CEO.
Ladenburg Thalmann was advised by Jefferies, Sullivan & Cromwell, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, and Sard Verbinnen. Reverence was advised by Gladstone Place Partners. Advisor Group was advised by Eversheds, Greenberg Traurig, Kirkland & Ellis, and Haven Tower Group. Debt financing was provided by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, and UBS.
viagogo, an online marketplace for ticket resale, completed the acquisition of StubHub, an online ticket exchange company, from eBay, a multinational e-commerce corporation, for $4bn.
"The completed sale of StubHub to viagogo is a great outcome both in terms of the $4bn sale price and the potential StubHub has with its new owner. The StubHub transaction reinforces our commitment to creating shareholder value and is consistent with other steps we have taken, such as margin improvement, share buybacks, and issuing dividends. On behalf of the eBay team, we're excited to see how StubHub evolves in its next phase and benefits fans, partners, and employees," Scott Schenkel, eBay Interim CEO.
eBay was advised by Goldman Sachs, Quinn Emanuel, Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, and Sloane & Company. viagogo was advised by JP Morgan, Kirkland & Ellis, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, Mercury, and Tusk Strategies. Debt financing was provided by JP Morgan and Madrone Capital Partners.
TA Associates, a global growth private equity firm, completed the acquisition of Auction Technology Group, an online platform for auctions, and Proxibid, an online marketplace for connecting buyers and sellers, from ECI Partners and Primus Capital. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“TA Associates is excited to bring together these two profitable and growing online businesses. With their similar business models, technology, and culture, as well as complementary geography and sector focus, we believe that Proxibid and ATG are an excellent match. In collaboration with ECI, we will aim to expand the businesses through both organic and acquisitive growth, and accelerated international expansion,” Morgan Seigler, TA Associates Managing Director.
Proxibid was advised by Vaquero Capital and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Auction Technology Group was advised by GCA Altium and Squire Patton Boggs. TA Associates was advised by Alvarez & Marsal, Travers Smith, and BackBay Communications. ECI Partners was advised by Maitland.
ArrowMark Partners, an asset management firm, completed the acquisition of the bank investment platform of StoneCastle Asset Management, an investment management firm. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“We believe ArrowMark’s proven and differentiated bank-related investment platform, combined with StoneCastle’s capabilities and community banking relationships, has the ability to provide stockholders with attractive portfolio opportunities, consistency of our investment management approach and our stockholder-first philosophy,” Joshua Siegel, StoneCastle Chairman, and CEO.
ArrowMark was advised by Colchester Partners and Schulte Roth & Zabel. StoneCastle Asset Management was advised by Berkshire Capital Securities and Dechert. StoneCastle Financial was advised by Pepper Hamilton and Shearman & Sterling.
The board of Instructure, an educational software company, agreed to a sweetened $49 per share offer from Thoma Bravo, a private equity firm. The board of directors said shareholders now have until February 25 to vote on the deal.
Thoma Bravo’s new offer is $1.40 a share higher than its initial offer of $47.60, made in early December, and represents more favorable terms than the $48.50 tender offer that was made earlier last week.
“This best and final offer is a significant increase over the original bid, and at this stage in the process, it should be clear that this is the best path for the company and stockholders moving forward,” Josh Coates, Instructure Chairman & CEO.
Instructure is advised by JP Morgan, Cooley, and Kekst CNC. Thoma Bravo is advised by Kirkland & Ellis and Finsbury.
Franchise Group, an operator of franchised and franchisable businesses, completed the acquisition of American Freight Group, which operates a chain of furniture and mattress stores, from The Jordan Company, a middle-market private equity firm, for $450m.
“We are excited to welcome American Freight, its management team, and employees to the Franchise Group. We have been diligently planning for the combination of American Freight with our Sears Outlet business to create one strong national brand that combines unmatched cash-on-cash unit economics with stability throughout economic cycles. We expect to achieve significant economic and operational synergies over time,” Brian Kahn, Franchise Group President & CEO.
American Freight Group was advised by Harris Williams. Franchise Group was advised by B. Riley FBR and Kayne Anderson Private Credit. Debt financing was provided by B. Riley FBR and Kayne Anderson Private Credit.
Aptar, a provider of consumer dispensing, active packaging, and drug delivery solutions, agreed to acquire FusionPKG, a provider of airless and color cosmetics packaging, and conception-to-launch turnkey solutions for the North American beauty market. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"We are strengthening our formidable portfolio by broadening our agile design and full-service beauty packaging capabilities. FusionPKG's expertise in turnkey solutions is especially valuable to disruptive indie brands, as well as large established customers requiring expeditious launches. We believe the color cosmetics and skincare markets offer high growth potential, and FusionPKG has been growing at double-digit rates over the past few years. Our plan is to leverage FusionPKG's market-facing strengths in combination with our broad product and technology platforms," Stephan Tanda, Aptar President, and CEO.
Fusion is advised by Houlihan Lokey. Aptargroup is advised by Wells Fargo Securities and Sidley Austin.
Associated, a US regional bank, completed the acquisition of First Staunton, a provider of financial services, for $76m.
"We have great respect for First National Bank in Staunton and their commitment to providing quality financial services to their customers. Both of our organizations are built around customer-centric strategies and understand the importance of delivering increasing value to both the customers and the communities we serve," Philip B. Flynn, Associated President and CEO.
First Staunton was advised by Gerrish Smith Tuck and Polsinelli. Associated was advised by Howard & Howard.
Bessemer Venture Partners, TPG, Greenoaks Capital, Tiger Global Management, Durable Capital Partners, and TCV invested $400m in a funding round of Toast, an all-in-one point-of-sale and restaurant management platform for businesses in the foodservice and hospitality space.
"Just as the retail industry weathered disruption from e-commerce over the past two decades, restaurateurs now face shifting consumer expectations and a changing landscape of tech players who threaten to erode restaurant brands. Toast wants to partner with the restaurant community to level the playing field and strengthen this nearly trillion-dollar industry. We’re thrilled to continue to support this incredible team in 2020 and beyond,” Kent Bennett, Bessemer Venture Partner.
Wings of Strength, a bodybuilding promotion company, agreed to acquire Mr. Olympia, a professional bodybuilding competition, and Muscle & Fitness, an American fitness and bodybuilding magazine, from American Media, an American publisher of magazines. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"My primary motivation for acquiring the Olympia is to bring the event back to the fans. It's a dream come true to take ownership of some of the fitness industry's most celebrated brands. Our ability to also acquire a media portfolio that includes Muscle & Fitness allows us to reach one of the largest fitness-minded audiences in the world. This is a great day for everyone who shares a passion for fitness, nutrition, training, and the bodybuilding lifestyle," Jake Wood, Wings of Strength CEO.
Dominion Energy, a power and energy company, is set to acquire Pivotal LNG, a liquefied natural gas distributor for marine and road transportation, from Southern Company, a gas and utility holding company, for $175m.
Dominion also agreed to acquire Southern Company's 5% stake in Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina, which is expected to enter service in early 2022. If approved, that will bring Dominion’s share in the pipeline to 53%, up from 48%. Duke Energy will own the remaining 47%.
Berkshire acquires Kroger and Biogen and reduces Wells Fargo and Goldman stakes. (FS)
Berkshire Hathaway stated it has taken a $549m stake in Kroger, investing in the largest US supermarket chain as smaller rivals struggle, Reuters reported.
In a regulatory filing showing its US-listed investments as of December 31, Berkshire also took a new 648k share stake in drugmaker Biogen worth $192m, and significantly reduced its stakes in two major banks, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs.
Google’s Waze deal is a likely target in FTC antitrust sweep.
The US Federal Trade Commission just ordered significant technology companies to go through details of small acquisitions made during the last decade. A more sizable deal is also seen as a target for the regulator: Google’s $1.1bn acquisition of mapping app Waze, Bloomberg reported.
The FTC promptly approved the 2013 transaction, but antitrust experts say the regulator will take a second look because it combined two popular digital mapping services under the same corporate roof, eliminated a fast-growing Google rival, and solidified the internet giant’s grip on valuable data.
eBay increases its share buyback plan and forecasts substantial first-quarter profit.
eBay added $3bn to its 2020 share buyback plan and forecast current-quarter profit above analysts' expectations after concluding the divestment of its StubHub ticketing unit, Reuters reported.
Centerbridge seeks $5bn for its fourth debt fund. (FS)
Centerbridge Partners, a private equity firm, is seeking to raise up to $5bn for its fourth private credit fund. The fund will seek to snap up corporate debt that is trading at a discount to its face value. The fundraising began in January, intending to secure between $4.25bn and $5bn in commitments from investors, Reuters reported.
Centerbridge Partners fundraising comes amid widespread concerns that the US economy, which has been on its longest expansion in history, may soon enter a recession.
Odyssey Investment Partners, a private equity firm, closed its Odyssey Investment Partners Fund VI, a $3.25bn private equity investment fund formed to pursue control-oriented investments and management buyouts of established middle-market companies.
"We are sincerely grateful for the enthusiasm of our long-standing limited partners, as well as the expansion of our base with several leading global investors. Our successful fundraising effort reflects our investors' considerable confidence in our team, which will continue to be focused on building value on their behalf in the coming years. We are grateful to Jennifer Rogg, our Head of Investor Relations, for her exceptional efforts to ensure our successful fundraise," Brian Kwait, Odyssey CEO.
SoftBank plans to invest $1bn from the Latin America fund in 2020. (FS)
SoftBank Group will continue to invest in Latin America this year, focusing on industries including e-commerce, health care, and fintech.
"We are focused on investing in companies that could achieve long-term profitability," Andres Freire, SoftBank Managing Partner and Head of Southern Cone region.
The New York State Common Retirement Fund invests $615m into private equity. (FS)
The New York State Common Retirement Fund made four private equity commitments totaling $615m. The fund invested $300m into NYSCRF Pioneer Partnership Fund III, $250m into Insight Venture Partners XI, a fund that invests in tech companies, $50m into EagleTree Partners V, a fund that will invest in lower-middle markets for the consumer products, media and communications services, $15m into Hosen Private Equity III, a fund managed by Hosen Capital.
Univision in discussions with investor group over a potential divestment. (FS)
Univision Communications, a Spanish-language broadcaster, is in sale talks with a consortium of investors. The deal could value the broadcaster between $8bn and $10bn, Reuters reported.
The consortium led by former Viacom Chief Financial Officer Wade Davis and investment company Searchlight Capital Partners is in the lead to acquire the company after submitting the highest bid in an auction.
Apax-backed Cole Haan makes US IPO filing public. (FS)
Cole Haan, an Apax Partners-owned shoemaker, formerly a part of Nike, made its US listing application public, after confidentially filing it with the regulators in October.
The company stated it would not collect any proceeds from the offering as all the shares will come from divesting stockholders.
Boticario considers bid for Coty operations in Brazil.
Reuters reported that Grupo Boticario, a Brazilian cosmetics maker, is considering a bid for the Brazilian operations of Coty.
Boticario Chief Executive Artur Grynbaum said the group is viewing a bid that would be delivered next month to Coty's financial advisor, Credit Suisse Group.
Judge approves Philly refiner's bankruptcy plan and divestment to a property developer.
The Philadelphia Energy Solutions oil refinery site will be sold for $252m and redeveloped under a plan approved in bankruptcy court on Thursday, Reuters reported.
Judge Kevin Gross signed off on the PES bankruptcy agreement, filed with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.
PES shut its 335k barrel-per-day refinery in South Philadelphia, the largest and oldest on the East Coast, and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after a fire destroyed a section of the plant over the summer.
Raymond James hires Edward Griffin to lead FIG in Europe. (People)
Raymond James, an American multinational investment bank and financial services company, hired Edward Griffin, a managing director from Rothschild & Co, to lead and expand its coverage of financial services clients in Europe, FN reported.
“Raymond James is a highly respected and established mid-cap investment bank in the US. The business is now growing actively in Europe, and I’m excited by the prospect of contributing to this expansion," Edward Griffin.
TDR Capital-backed Stonegate, a British pub company, received UK’s CMA approval for the $3.9 bn acquisition of Ei Group, a pub company in the UK.
CMA stated that it had accepted the undertakings given by Stonegate last month, which included selling 42 sites, addressing competition concerns. The CMA, which investigated the potential impact of the merger in more than 500 local areas across the UK, said if the businesses were to merge, pub-goers in 51 areas might face higher prices and lower product quality.
Ei Group is advised by Deutsche Bank, Rothschild & Co, CMS, and Tulchan Communications. Stonegate is advised by AlbaCore Capital, Barclays, Goldman Sachs, Nomura, Kirkland & Ellis, Shearman & Sterling, Ashurst, Instinctif Partners, and Tulchan Communications.
Platinum Equity, a global investment firm based in Los Angeles, completed the acquisition of Biscuit International, a European manufacturer of private label sweet biscuits, from Qualium Investissement for $503m.
"Biscuit International has an exceptional portfolio and a well-deserved reputation for high-quality products. We support the company's plan to continue expanding its offering and its international reach, both organically and through additional add-on investments. We look forward to working with the management team to optimize the platform and maximize operational performance throughout the business," Louis Samson, Platinum Equity Partner.
Biscuit Internation was advised by Jeausserand Audouard. Platinum Equity was advised by Rothschild & Co and Latham & Watkins. Qualium was advised by Natixis Partners, and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.
Clearlake Capital Group and SkyKnight Capital-backed symplr, a provider of governance, risk and compliance SaaS solutions for healthcare organizations, agreed to acquire The Patient Safety Company, a provider of governance, risk and compliance solutions, from Main Capital Partners, a private equity firm. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"We are thrilled to partner with symplr, whose vision and capabilities advance our goal of helping hospitals and health systems continuously improve patient safety. We're delighted to become part of the symplr family and expand the solution offerings available to our customers," Rick Bergen, TPSC CEO.
symplr is advised by Healthcare Growth Partners and Lambert.
Private equity firms Ares Management and Griffin Real Estate are set to acquire a 98% stake in Murapol, a property development company. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"We are pleased to be partnering with Griffin to acquire one of the most established residential developers in Poland. This acquisition extends our longstanding track record in Poland and aligns with our strategy of investing in residential across Europe’s major markets,” John Ruane, Ares Partner.
The Blackstone Group is in talks with NIBC, a dutch bank, over a buyout proposal that values the lender at €1.4bn ($1.5bn).
The private equity giant is proposing to pay €9.85 ($10.79) per share for the Hague-based bank, a 7.8% premium to its closing price on Thursday of €9.13 ($10) per share.
NIBC stated that its boards are considering the proposal, which may not lead to an actual offer.
Jupiter Fund in advanced talks to acquire Merian Global. (FS)
Jupiter Fund Management, a UK-based fund management group, is in advanced talks to acquire Merian Global Investors, an asset management firm, in a deal that is expected to be announced as early as this week.
“While discussions have been underway for some time and the boards of both Jupiter and Merian are confident that the combination would have the potential to deliver meaningful benefits for the stakeholders of both businesses, discussions are ongoing, and there can be no certainty these will lead to a transaction, nor as to the terms on which any such transaction would be concluded,” Jupiter Fund Management.
Vivendi plans IPO for Universal Music.
Vivendi is preparing an IPO for part of Universal Music Group by early 2023, in a strategic reversal that gives ordinary investors a rare opportunity to own part of the major music business, Bloomberg reported. Universal Music is the French media group's big profit driver, and it's raking in money from the surging popularity of music streaming.
Entry onto the stock market could give the world's biggest music company more financial clout to compete with its two giant rivals, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment.
RBS to slash investment bank and rebrand as NatWest.
RBS will stop using the 293-years old name and rebrand as NatWest as its chief executive Alison Rose prepares a sweeping overhaul for a new era of less profitable but more sustainable banking, FT reported.
As part of the strategic shift, the bank will stop using the RBS name at the group level in favor of the less scandal-tainted NatWest brand, though the Royal Bank of Scotland will still be used in its Scottish branch network.
"It really makes no sense for us to continue to be called RBS, which was a concept designed for a global group of banks we no longer have," Howard Davies, RBS Chairman.
The Investment Association names Keith Skeoch its chairman. (People)
The Investment Association, a £7.7tn ($10tn) investment body, named Keith Skeoch, Standard Life Aberdeen CEO, as its next chair, FN reported.
Skeoch takes over the role from Schroders CEO Peter Harrison, whose three-year term has come to an end.
Sea Group, a Singapore-based internet company, completed the acquisition of Home United Football Club, a professional football club, and rebranded it to Lion City Sailors FC. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“By uniting with a club with a rich heritage, exceptional fans, and a great organization, we intend for Lion City Sailors to set a new benchmark for footballing excellence in Singapore and the region,” Forrest Li, Sea Group CEO.
ValueLabs, a global technology services provider, agreed to acquire Indi Design, an international brand, design & innovation consultancy firm. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"When Design and Tech come together, we create new benchmarks in creativity and innovation. Tech is reorganizing Design thinking in ways that were not possible earlier. My whole team and I are very excited about the possibilities this development throws up," Sudhir Sharma, Indi Design Founder.
Nomura explores strategic options for its Taiwan asset management unit.
Nomura Holdings, a Japanese financial holding company, is exploring strategic options, including a sale of Nomura Asset Management Taiwan. Nomura is seeking to value the business at about $500m.
Nomura bought the business from ING Group for an undisclosed amount in 2014, becoming the first Japanese company to enter the Taiwanese asset management market.
Goldman Sachs is advising Nomura on the potential sale.
CICC Capital raises over $229m for biomedicine fund. (FS)
CICC Capital, the private equity arm of China International Capital, raised over $229n for a biomedicine fund, DealStreetAsia reported. Launched by CICC Capital in October 2019, the fund has initially been intending to collect $215m. It seeks to invest in the biological medicine industry.
The investors include state-owned Hebei Port Group, Shenzhen-listed Pharscin Pharma, Xiamen Fig Group, Fujian Sunner Group, Huirong Qide Investment, Xi'an Huirong and Xinwen Venture Capital, a subsidiary of Sichuan Daily Press Group.
Bio-Thera seeks to raise $287m in an IPO.
Bio-Thera Solutions, a Guangzhou-headquartered oncology-focused company, is targeting to raise $287m in its IPO on China's Nasdaq-like STAR Market.
Bio-Thera, which filed its prospectus on January 23, will offer 60m common shares at $4.7 apiece. The company sold 2.4m shares ahead of its IPO.
Facebook and Sequoia Capital team up to launch a VC Brand Incubator in India. (FS)
Social media giant Facebook and Surge, the accelerator program of Sequoia Capital India, teamed up to launch the fourth edition of the VC Brand Incubator initiative in India, DealStreetAsia reported.
"With the VC Brand Incubator, our aim is to help our brands gain more insights into leveraging the Facebook family of apps for growth," Rajan Anandan, Sequoia Capital India Managing Director.
Indian court postpones Amazon and Flipkart antitrust probes.
The Indian antitrust investigation of Amazon.com and Walmart's Flipkart has been put on hold by a court, DealStreetAsiareported. Amazon this week challenged the investigation in a court in Bengaluru, and the court has given a stay of two months.
The Competition Commission of India last month requested a probe into Amazon and Flipkart over alleged violations of competition law and some discounting practices.
China's Startups struggle after the virus freezes funding. (FS)
China's technology startups are struggling to stay floating after the coronavirus outbreak threatened to paralyze crucial venture capital funding, Bloomberg reported.
Investment in an industry that runs on face-to-face contact and gut instinct has drastically decreased since the epidemic erupted in January. Venture capital funds cut startup investment by 60% in January from a year ago. That's because angel investors and venture capitalists accustomed to road-testing new technology or grilling entrepreneurs in person now avoid interaction and work from home.
B Capital hits the target for the second fund, aims for $750m. (FS)
Singapore- and US-headquartered B Capital Group hit its target of $600m for its second fund and now seeks to raise $150m more, DealStreetAsia reported.
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