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Private equity firms Silver Lake and P2 Capital Partners today agreed to a $3.5 billion take-private acquisition of Blackhawk Network, an operator of in-store prepaid gift card "malls" and websites like GiftCards.com.

Backstory, per a source: Silver Lake first offered to buy Blackhawk around five years ago, when it was being spun out of grocery chain Safeway, but couldn't agree on terms.

  • BlackHawk was originally formed as a subsidiary of Safeway, but the relationship became problematic as BlackHawk expanded its business into Safeway rivals.
  • Silver Lake came calling as Safeway prepped a tax-free spinoff. Safeway insisted that any acquisition provide the same after-tax proceeds to shareholders — something Silver Lake couldn't swallow.
  • Silver Lake and Blackhawk remained in touch over the years, including during a rough patch for Blackhawk related to an industry shift to EMV (i.e., swiped cards to chip cards).
  • Blackhawk shares took a dive last October from which they didn't recover, following an earnings miss that reflected slow ROI from diversification into corporate rewards programs. Well, didn't recover until Silver Lake offered a big premium today...
  • P2 Capital Partners is an existing shareholder, already holding just over 5% of outstanding Blackhawk shares.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Iran rejects nuclear talks with U.S., for now

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at Iran/EU talks in 2015. Photo: Carlos Barria/POOL/AFP via Getty

A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that conditions are not ripe for informal nuclear talks between Iran, the U.S. and other world powers.

Why it matters: The Biden administration had proposed the talks as part of its efforts to negotiate a path back to the 2015 nuclear deal. The White House expressed disappointment with Iran's response, but said it remained willing to engage with Tehran.

3 hours ago - Health

U.S. sets weekend records for daily COVID vaccinations

A driver waits to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Inglewood, California on Feb. 26. Photo: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Just over 2.4 million coronavirus vaccinations were reported to the CDC on Sunday, matching Saturday's record-high for inoculations as seen in Bloomberg's vaccine tracker.

Why it matters: Vaccinations are ramping up again after widespread delays caused by historic winter storms. Over 75 million vaccine doses have been administered thus far, with 7.5% of the population fully vaccinated and 15% having received at least one dose.

GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy: "We will lose" if we continue to idolize Trump

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) told CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday he does not believe that former President Trump will, or should, be the Republican nominee for president in 2024.

What he's saying: Cassidy pointed out that "over the last four years, [Republicans] lost the House of Representatives, the Senate and the presidency. That has not happened ... since Herbert Hoover."