Dan Primack
Featured

Another U.S. chemicals giant strikes global merger

Huntsman Corp. of Texas and Switzerland's Clariant have agreed to an all-stock merger that would create a specialty chemicals giant valued at around $20 billion (including debt). Clariant shareholders would hold around a 52% stake in the combined company, which is expected to generate $13.2 billion in annual sales and $2.3 billion of EBITDA.

Why it's a big deal: This tie-up is part of a trend of cross-border consolidation in the mega-chemicals space, following the pending deal between Praxair (Connecticut) and Linde (Germany) and PPG Industries (Pittsburgh) attempting to purchase Dutch rival Akzo Nobel. It's also notable for private equity buffs (yes, such people exist), as Huntsman was at the center of what arguably was the most contentious M&A failure failure of the financial crisis era.

Fun fact: "Huntsman... is best known for inventing the clam-shell styrofoam box for McDonald's Big Mac burgers." ― Reuters

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Top of the Morning

Saudi Arabia on Saturday made a tentative commitment of $20 billion to a new infrastructure investment fund managed by The Blackstone Group, which happens to be be led by Trump economic advisor Steve Schwarzman. The overall fund target is around $40 billion, with Blackstone saying on a media call last month that its past infrastructure investments have generated net returns of around 40%.

  • Top-line: Most of the money would be earmarked for U.S. infrastructure projects, and likely would benefit from a Trump infrastructure plan that is expected to heavily leverage public-private partnerships. It's actually a vice-versa, as Trump also needs a large pool of dedicated private capital to make his $1 trillion target (at 5:1 leverage) somewhat feasible.
  • Timing: The Saudis really wanted this announcement to come out during Trump's weekend visit, but the two sides couldn't quite work out the final documentation in time. That's why, for now, this is only a "memorandum of understanding."
  • Team: Blackstone does not actually have a dedicated infrastructure team, although it is expected to name the fund lead within the week (expect it to be someone already on staff).

Visionary: Also on Saudi Saturday came official word that SoftBank has held a $93 billion first close on its Vision Fund, which will take both majority and minority stakes in public and private technology companies. For context, this is bigger than the largest private equity funds ever raised by Blackstone, KKR, Carlyle, Silver Lake and TPG. Combined.

Some additional notes, per sources familiar with the situation:

  • Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, which committed $45 billion, has the right to refrain from participating in deals of over a certain size. This is not true of other, smaller investors, such as Apple.
  • PIF also has the right to sit in on deal meetings, but it doesn't have a vote on the investment committee.
  • The above negotiations delayed Vision Fund's initial close, which originally had been slated for months ago.
  • Because of potential conflicts of interest related to existing investments in Uber (PIF) and Didi (SoftBank), Vision Fund will not participate any ride-hail deals.
  • SoftBank continues to seek the elusive $100 billion mark, in part, because Son has a preference for big, round numbers (seriously). The fact that hitting such a figure could remain six months off, however, indicates that the extra $7 billion remains elusive.

Where in the world? I'll be discussing the SoftBank Vision Fund on Cheddar at 10:20am this morning. Tune in, tweet at us, etc.

Just thinking aloud: Ford made major auto waves this morning by firing CEO Mark Fields and replacing him with former Steelcase boss Jim Hackett, who most recently was leading Ford's autonomous driving unit. While most of the ensuing focus has been on Ford's autonomous positioning vis-a-vis rivals like GM, I'm wondering if Uber was just handed the solution to its troubled search for a number two executive. Fields is a strong communicator who is conversant in tech, has Fortune 500 management chops and would bring an outsider's perspective.

The BFD

Huntsman Corp. (NYSE: HUN) of Texas and Switzerland's Clariant (Swiss: CLN) have agreed to an all-stock merger that would create a specialty chemicals giant valued at around $20 billion (including debt). Clariant shareholders would hold around a 52% stake in the combined company, which is expected to generate $13.2 billion in annual sales and $2.3 billion of EBITDA.

  • Why it's the BFD: This tie-up is part of a trend of cross-border consolidation in the mega-chemicals space, following the pending deal between Praxair (Connecticut) and Linde (Germany) and PPG Industries (Pittsburgh) attempting to purchase Dutch rival Akzo Nobel. It's also notable for private equity buffs (yes, such people exist), as Huntsman was at the center of what arguably was the most contentious M&A failure failure of the financial crisis era.
  • Fun fact: "Huntsman... is best known for inventing the clam-shell styrofoam box for McDonald's Big Mac burgers." ― Reuters

Venture Capital Deals

CreativeLive, a Seattle-based provider of online learning classes, has raised $25 million. GSV Acceleration led the round, and was joined by REV Venture Partners, Jared Leto and return backers Greylock Partners, Social Capital, Richard Branson and CAA. http://bit.ly/2qSig47

Away, a New York-based luggage maker and online retailer, has raised $20 million in Series B funding. Global Founders Capital led the round, and was joined by Forerunner Ventures, Comcast Ventures and Accel. http://tcrn.ch/2r6XM7Y

CornerJob, a Barcelona-based "blue collar recruitment app," has raised $19 million in Series C funding. Backers include Northzone Ventures, Randstad Innovation Fund, e.ventures, Samaipata Ventures, Caixa Capital Risc, Sabadell Venture Capital, Mediaset Italia, Mediaset España, Groupe TF1, 5M Ventures, Media Digital Ventures, Augesco Ventures and TV Azteca. http://tcrn.ch/2rIbR8U

🚑 Lemonaid Health, a San Francisco-based online provider of tele-health services, has raised $12 million in Series A funding. Novartis Venture Fund and Hikma Ventures co-led the round, and were joined by Quest Diagnostics, Correlation Ventures, Adaptive Healthcare Fund, Vega Ventures and 415 Ventures. www.lemonaidhealth.com

🚑 Upfront Healthcare, a Chicago-based provider of physician scheduling software, has raised $5.6 million in Series A funding. Nashville Capital Network led the round, and was joined by Echo Health Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners and Martin Venture. http://bit.ly/2rHMqU5

Shipamax, a London-based provider of cloud software for the bulk shipping market, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding. Cherubic Ventures led the round, and was joined by AME Cloud and FF Angel. http://tcrn.ch/2rsMP0r

MortgageGym, a London-based mortgage robo-advisor, has raised £2 million in seed funding from backers like China Pacific Capital and Trifecta Capital. http://bit.ly/2r8KuaW

N2W Software, a West Palm Beach, Fla.-based provider of data protection and disaster recovery for AWS, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding led by Insight Venture Partners. http://bit.ly/2rGjgFT

Private Equity Deals

🚑 BC Partners has agreed to acquire DentalPro, an Italian dental services provider, from Summit Partners and VAM Investments. No financial terms were disclosed. http://bit.ly/2r8NdkZ

Cerberus Capital Management has acquired Bushkill Group, a Poconos-focused vacation property ownership company, from Resorts Group Inc. for an undisclosed amount. http://bit.ly/2r7dwHY

CVC Capital Partners, Permira and Indian motorcycle maker Hero MotorCorp are among the interested suitors for Ducati, the Italian motorcycle company owned by Volkswagen, according to Bloomberg. A formal sale process could commence within weeks, with an asking price north of $1 billion. https://bloom.bg/2qFAZxe

🚑 Harvest Partners has acquired a majority equity stake in EyeCare Services Partners, a Dallas-based provider of ophthalmologic services, from Varsity Healthcare Partners for an undisclosed amount. www.espmgmt.com

🚑 Quadrant Private Equity has agreed to sell Australia's Icon Cancer Care Group for more than A$1 billion to a consortium that includes QIC, Goldman Sachs and Pagoda Investment, according to Bloomberg. https://bloom.bg/2rHHRKi

Valorem Energy, an Oklahoma City-based oil and natural gas company led by former Continental Resources execs, has secured a $300 million equity commitment from Kayne Anderson. www.valorem-energy.com

Public Offerings

Three companies are planning to price IPOs on U.S. exchanges this week: Appian, Smart Global Holdings and WideOpenWest. http://bit.ly/2qaj7bU

⛽ Ranger Energy Services, a Houston-based provider of well service rigs and associated services, has filed for a $100 million IPO. It plans to trade on the NYSE under ticker symbol RNGR, with Credit Suisse listed as left lead underwriter. www.rangerenergy.com

Liquidity Events

🚑 H.I.G. Capital has sold its stake in Windsor, Calif.-based Community Veterinary Clinics to company management for an undisclosed amount. www.vippetcare.com

Sun Capital Partners has hired Morgan Stanley to find a buyer for Aclara Technologies, a Hazelwood, Mo.-based smart meters maker with an estimated $500 million in annual revenue, according to Reuters. http://reut.rs/2qM0a38

Yucaipa Cos. is considering a sale of IPO for portfolio company Americold, an Atlanta-based owner of temperature-controlled warehouses, according to the WSJ. The company reportedly could be worth upwards of $4 billion in a sale. http://on.wsj.com/2rB1Utf

More M&A

Alibaba Health Information Technology (HK: 241) has agreed to acquire nutritional supplements maker Ali JK Nutritional Products from parent company Alibaba Group (NYSE: BABA) for HK$3.8 billion (US$490m). http://bit.ly/2rsPLde

HNA Group is in talks to acquire a position in Value Partners Group, a listed Hong Kong asset management firm, according to Bloomberg. https://bloom.bg/2qb09Sl

Jack in the Box (Nasdaq: JACK) has retained Morgan Stanley to explore strategic alternatives for Mexican fast-casual chain Qboda. http://bit.ly/2qNZXu9

Sinochem of China is no longer pursing an investment in Hong Kong-based commodities trader Noble Group (SGX: NOBG), according to Reuters. http://reut.rs/2q2rtqC

Fundraising

Fundamental Advisors, a New York-based private equity firm focused on municipal and public purpose assets, has closed its third fund with $993 million in capital commitments. http://bit.ly/2q2abdm

It's Personnel

Gregory Maxon has joined buyout firm Thomas H. Lee Partners as head of capital markets, a newly-created position. He previously was in the leveraged finance group of J.P. Morgan. www.thl.com

Sofinnova Partners, a European VC firm focused on life sciences, has promoted Graziano Seghezzi to managing partner. www.sofinnova.fr

Final Numbers

Source: Thomson Reuters

Featured

Saudis pledge $20 billion to U.S.-focused infrastructure fund

AP Photo/Richard Drew, File

Saudi Arabia on Saturday made a tentative commitment of $20 billion to a new infrastructure investment fund that would be managed by The Blackstone Group, the private equity and real estate giant led by Trump economic advisor Steve Schwarzman. The overall fund target is around $40 billion, with Blackstone saying on a media call last month that its past infrastructure investments have generated net returns of around 40%.

Why it matters: Most of the money would be earmarked for U.S. infrastructure projects, and likely would benefit from a Trump infrastructure plan that is expected to heavily leverage public-private partnerships.

From where? Saudi Arabia would be making the investment out of its Public Investment Fund, which earlier today announced a $45 billion commitment to a tech-focused private equity fund being managed by Japan's SoftBank.

Open questions: This is a "memorandum of understanding" rather than a solid commitment, and it remains unclear what issues must still be addressed. One may be that Blackstone does not currently have a dedicated infrastructure investing team, even though this would be the largest such fund of its kind ever raised by a U.S.-based firm. Another could be that Trump's infrastructure plan has not even been formally proposed yet, let alone passed legislative muster.

[Update: A source familiar with the situation says the MOU was because final documentation simply couldn't get done in time for this weekend, which is when the Saudis wanted to ― timed to Trump's visit. Blackstone is expected to announce the infrastructure fund's lead manager within the next week, with expectations that it will be an existing staffer.]

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SoftBank raises $93 billion for its massive tech fund

Eugene Hoshiko / AP

Japan's SoftBank today announced a $93 billion first closing for its long-awaited Vision Fund (with plans to be at $100 billion within six months), which will invest globally in both private and public technology companies.

Why it matters: This is the largest private equity fund ever raised, let alone one to focus exclusively on technology companies.

The unveil: SoftBank timed today's news to President Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia, which committed $45 billion via one of its sovereign wealth funds. Plans for Vision Fund were underway well before last November's election, but Trump took credit after SoftBank chief Masayoshi Son visited Trump Tower and promised that half the money would be invested in the U.S. and that it would create 50,000 new jobs.

Investment strategy: Vision Fund will take both majority and minority equity positions, as Axios previously reported. It also has the right to acquire certain existing SoftBank investments, including deals for Guardant Health, Intelsat, NVIDIA, OneWeb, SoFi and nearly 25% of its stake in British chipmaker ARM.

Investors: Beyond the commitments from Saudi and SoftBank itself ($25 billion ― $8.2 billion of which comes via the in-kind commitment of ARM shares), other investors in Vision Fund include Apple, Sharp Electronics, Foxconn Technology Group, Qualcomm, Sharp Corp. and a sovereign wealth fund of the United Arab Emirates.

More details, per a source familiar with the situation:

  • Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund has the right to refrain from participating in deals of over a certain size.
  • It also has the right to sit in on deal meetings, but it doesn't have a vote.
  • The above negotiations delayed the initial close, which originally had been expected to occur months ago.
  • Because of potential conflicts of interest related to existing investments in Uber (Saudi PIF) and Didi (SoftBank), Vision Fund will not participate ride-hail deals anywhere.
  • SoftBank continues to seek the elusive $100 billion mark, in part, because Son has a preference for big, round numbers (seriously). The fact that hitting such a figure could remain six months off, however, indicates that the extra $7 billion remains elusive.
Featured

Study shows gender bias in venture capital

Male and female entrepreneurs are not treated equally by venture capitalists, according to researchers who were invited to silently observe and transcribe hours of startup company pitches and subsequent investor conversations.

The language used to describe male and female entrepreneurs was radically different. And these differences have very real consequences for those seeking funding.

The study: Three researchers from Luleå University watched and transcribed a group of seven Swedish governmental venture capitalists, as they met with 125 startup founders. Their goal was to better understand VC decision-making, while the investors hoped that the findings could help them improve their own process. But the results were different than either side expected.

Language examples: Unproven, young male founders were referred to as "promising," whereas unproven, young female founders were referred to as "inexperienced." Or "Cautious and sensible" vs. "too cautious."

Funding results: Female founders on average received 25% of their ask, compared to a 52% mark for the men. A majority of women (who comprised 21% of the sample) were denied funding altogether, while only 38% of men were turned down.

American translation: Yes, this is Sweden rather than Silicon Valley. But:

  1. Women own around 1/3 of all businesses in Sweden, so its hardly a more chauvinistic market in this regard.
  2. Government VCs actually are required to take "European equality criteria and multiple gender requirements" into account when making their decisions, which highlights just how deep these unconscious biases run.
  3. Two of the seven VCs were women, which is a higher percentage than would be seen in most U.S. venture firms.
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Friday greetings from the home office. A bunch of you have requested that we make certain types of deal blurbs more easily recognizable, in order to accelerate your skim. The top asks have been for healthcare and energy items, so today we're experimenting a bit. Please let me know your thoughts. 🚑

Top of the Morning

Source: Giphy

Academia: A group of researchers have published their findings on VC decision-making, after being "invited to silently observe [Swedish] governmental VC decision-making meetings and, more important, the conversations they had about entrepreneurs applying for funding."

The purpose was to better understand investment decision-making, with the VCs hoping that the findings could help them improve their own processes. But the results were different than either side expected:

The language used to describe male and female entrepreneurs was radically different. And these differences have very real consequences for those seeking funding.

For example, unproven, young male founders were referred to as "promising," whereas unproven, young female founders were referred to as "inexperienced." Or "Cautious and sensible" vs. "too cautious."

In terms of results, female founders on average received 25% of their ask, compared to a 52% mark for the men. A majority of women (who comprised 21% of the sample) were denied funding altogether, while only 38% of men were turned down.

Yes, this is Sweden rather than Silicon Valley. But: (1) Women own around 1/3 of all businesses in Sweden, so its hardly a more chauvinistic market in this regard. (2) Government VCs actually are required to take "European equality criteria and multiple gender requirements" into account when making their decisions, which highlights just how deep these unconscious biases run. (3) Two of the seven VCs were women, which is a higher percentage than we'd see in most U.S. venture firms.

Stepping back: Menlo Ventures yesterday announced the close of its fourteenth early-stage fund with $450 million in capital commitments, but without longtime partners Doug Carlisle (35-years with the firm), John Jarve (30 years) and Pravin Vazirani (16 years). A spokeswoman says that each will maintain current portfolio company board seats, but none will participate in new deals.

• I'm still confused: Treasury Sec. Mnuchin yesterday testified that the White House does not support legislation that would separate commercial banks from investment banks, despite its repeated invocations of a rule that did exactly that."We never said we were in favor of Glass-Steagall. We said we were in favor of a 21st-century Glass-Steagall. It couldn't be clearer."

Coming attractions: Innovation Endeavors is in talks to expand its capital base beyond the bank account of Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, according to multiple sources. No word yet on fundraising targets for the early-stage VC firm, which has been solely backed by Schmidt since its 2010 formation.

Market theory: Famed short-seller Jim Chanos yesterday told Axios that he believes the markets are pricing in a President Pence: "I think they're beginning to factor it [Pence] in, that's for sure. The markets are hoping for Vice President Pence to become President... a more stable person being able to enact a Republican agenda."

Recommended reading: Ryan Mac of Forbes has the bizarre story of 1-Page, a San Francisco-based HR software company that went public via a reverse merger in Australia, despite its CEO having neither a viable product nor an apparent clue about what it means to be a public company. And its shareholders don't come off much better. If you've had a rough week and want to feel smarter about yourself, this is for you.

Have a great weekend. Go Celtics!

The BFD

🚑 Steward Health Care, a hospital operator owned by Cerberus Capital Management, has agreed to acquire Tennessee-based IASIS Healthcare from backers like TPG Capital. No financial terms were disclosed, but the WSJ reports a transaction value of around $1.9 billion. As part of the deal, Medical Properties Trust will acquire substantially all of IASIS's hospital real estate (subject to maintaining long-term leases with Steward), with proceeds being used to retire IASIS debt and to provide liquidity to Iasis shareholders.

  • Why it's the BFD: This merger would make Steward the country's largest private, for-profit hospital company, having gone from a 10-hospital chain in the Boston area to a 36-hospital national player in just a matter of months.
  • Bottom line: "Steward's latest acquisition exemplifies the hospital industry's appetite to bulk up wherever possible. Hospitals want more market power to offset declining federal reimbursements, but it often comes at the expense of higher prices for patients." ― Bob Herman, Axios

Venture Capital Deals

🚑 Iterum Therapeutics, an Ireland-based developer of anti-infectives, has raised $65 million in Series B funding. Arix Bioscience (LSE: ARIX) led the round, and was joined by Pivotal BioVenture Partners, Advent Life Sciences, Domain Associates, Bay City Capital and return backers Frazier Healthcare Partners, Canaan Partners, Sofinnova Ventures and New Leaf Venture Partners. http://bit.ly/2q39QCj

Eat Club, a Redwood City, Calif.-based provider of corporate lunch programs, has raised $30 million in Series C funding. Sodexo (Paris: SW) led the round, and was joined by return backers August Capital and Trinity Ventures. https://bloom.bg/2ryAcOE

FullStory, an Atlanta-based provider of customer experience analytics, has raised $15 million in Series B funding. GV led the round, and was joined by Salesforce and return backer Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. http://bit.ly/2q37t2l

Affinity, a CRM toolkit for professional investors, has raised $13.5 million in new VC funding. 8VC led the round, and was joined by Sway Ventures, Pear Ventures, Great Oaks Venture Capital and Western Technology Investment. http://tcrn.ch/2pSsstC

Spotluck, a Bethesda, Md.-based restaurant discovery app, has raised $4.8 million in Series A funding. JOBI Capital led the round, and was joined by Rank Capital Group and New Dominion Angels. http://bit.ly/2qpdzxI

🚑 Robocath, a French developer of medical robotics for treating cardiovascular disease, has raised €4.7 million in new VC funding. M Capital and Normandie Participations co-led the round, and were joined by return backers Go Capital and NCI. http://bit.ly/2qAsxkw

Dor, a San Francisco-based foot traffic sensor and analytics platform for retailers, has raised $3.8 million in seed funding co-led by Zetta Venture Partners and Vertex Ventures. http://bit.ly/2qE3kE8

Precognitive, a Chicago-based developer of online fraud prevention technology, has raised $1.25 million in seed funding. Corazon Capital led the round, and was joined by Flybridge Capital Partners, Hyde Park Ventures and Jeff Liesendahl (CEO of Accertify). www.precognitive.io

Boray Data, a Beijing-based provider of real-time big data analytics, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series B funding led by Cash Capital. http://bit.ly/2rlwDhf

Optimatics, a provider of infrastructure planning software for water and wastewater utilities, has raised an undisclosed amount of VC funding from Suez Ventures and return backer Emerald Technology Ventures. www.optimatics.com

Private Equity Deals

Pfingsten Partners has acquired Sign-Zone, a Brooklyn Center, Minn.-based manufacturer of wide-format, portable promotional signage and displays. No financial terms were disclosed, except that HarbourVest Partners acted as an equity co-investor. www.signzoneinc.com

Polynt, an Italian chemical maker owned by Investindustrial, has completed its previously-announced merger with Reichold, a Durham, N.C.-based resin maker owned by Black Diamond Capital Management. The combined company will have more than €2 billion in revenue, with the two private equity sponsors holding equal ownership. http://reut.rs/2qDYLJR

Quantum Energy Partners has acquired a 50% stake in Pennsylvania-based midstream company CONE Gathering LLC from Noble Energy (NYSE: NBL) for $765 million. http://bit.ly/2qEryOq

TPG Capital is in advanced talks to acquire Wave, a Kirkland, Wash.-based regional broadband operator that it would merge with RCN Telecom Services and Grands Communications, according to Reuters. The deal could be valued at more than $2 billion (including debt). Wave is currently owned by Oak Hill Capital and GI Partners. http://reut.rs/2q3fg07

Public Offerings

Aston Martin, a British carmaker whose shareholders include Investindustrial, is considering a 2018 IPO, according to Bloomberg. No financial decisions have been made. https://bloom.bg/2q14mb7

Liquidity Events

KSL Capital Partners is considering selling the Belfry, an English golf resort known for hosting the Ryder Cup, according to Bloomberg. A deal could be worth around £180 million. https://bloom.bg/2ryXF1e

Starwood Capital is seeking a buyer for French crystal maker Baccarat (Paris: CDBP), which could be valued at around €200 million in a sale, according to a local media report. Starwood has controlled the company since 2005. http://reut.rs/2rls9Y5

More M&A

A. Silva & Silva has hired JPMorgan and Caixa BI to find a buyer for Spanish carpark company Empark, which could be valued at around €1 billion, according to Reuters. http://reut.rs/2qEsjXT

🚑 Elliott Associates has acquired a 9% stake in electronic health record company Athenahealth (Nadaq: ATHN). http://bit.ly/2rz0WxC

Spotify has acquired Niland, a Paris-based AI startup focused on music search and recommendation, for an undisclosed amount. http://tcrn.ch/2rycnq8

Vistra Energy (NYSE: VST) is in talks to acquire rival Dynegy (NYSE: DYN), which remains debt-laden after emerging from bankruptcy protection in 2012, according to the WSJ. Dynegy has a current market cap just south of $1 billion. http://on.wsj.com/2pR3ivc

Fundraising

Signal Peak Ventures of Utah is raising up to $150 million for its third VC and growth equity fund, per an SEC filing. www.spv.com

Work-Bench, a New York-based VC group focused on enterprise tech, is raising $40 million for its second fund, per an SEC filing. www.work-bench.com

It's Personnel

Marc Mezvinsky, a former hedge fund manager and husband to Chelsea Clinton, has joined Silicon Valley VC firm Social Capital as New York-based vice chairman. https://bloom.bg/2ryPbr5

Molly Murphy has joined the Orange County Employees Retirement System as chief investment officer. She succeeds Girard Miller, who stepped down last December, and previously was CIO at Cincinnati-based Mercy Health. http://bit.ly/2ryPFxh

Philipp Patschkowski has joined to London office of Neuberger Berman to focus on private equity secondaries, according to Private Equity International. He previously was a principal with Coller Capital. http://bit.ly/2qZpG5X

Final Numbers

Data: OECD; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Featured

Famed short-seller believes markets have priced in President Pence

John Minchillo / AP

Jim Chanos, the billionaire hedge fund manager known for predicting the collapse of companies like Enron, believes that the financial markets are already factoring in the possibility that President Trump won't make it through his first term.

"I think they're beginning to factor it [Pence] in, that's for sure," Chanos told Axios on Thursday, at the SALT Conference at Vegas' Bellagio Hotel. "The markets are hoping for Vice President Pence to become President... a more stable person being able to enact a Republican agenda."

Market theory: Chanos thinks stocks are unnaturally stable amid unrelenting White House chaos and dysfunction, because investors see an alternate path to getting business-friendly legislation like tax reform. "The odds-makers have Trump even money to last his term," Chanos said. "If the perception was that Trump was going to be staying there I think at this point [the markets] might be worse."

Caveats: Chanos is big Democratic Party fundraiser who shorted Trump's companies in the past, although he did not support Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign. It's also worth noting that the markets tanked yesterday, when the prospect of a President Pence hit its peak (so far).

Featured

Facebook stock hits its 5-year anniversary

Facebook shares began trading five years ago this morning, following a delay caused by technical difficulties at the NASDAQ. The social network had priced its IPO at $38 per share the prior evening, with first trades (eventually) coming in at $42 per share (it would close at $38.23).

Yesterday the company closed trading at $144.85 per share, with a $412 billion market cap that makes it one of the world's most valuable companies.

Data: Yahoo! Finance; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios
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Top of the Morning

Source: Giphy

Your memories: Five years ago this morning I had a pretty simple plan: Go to a coffee shop, publish a post on Facebook's first post-IPO trades and then go see some nearby house that a realtor thought J and I would like. But none of it worked out as planned.

The first Facebook trades didn't come until around 11:30, due to technical troubles at the NASDAQ. That also meant I missed the house visit, and instead had to settle for a later appointment at a different abode that the realtor felt would be less appealing.

In the proceeding five years, as Axios details, Facebook has gone from a troubled public security into one of the world's most valuable companies. Its revenue has climbed 422% to $27.6 billion. Its daily active users have climbed 107% to 1.28 billion. Its young and awkward CEO has transformed himself into a mature statesman. And I'm writing this from the second house.

Smart CEOs remind their companies ― and us media jackals ― that IPOs are a beginning rather than a conclusion, and that whatever happens to the stock in those early days is much less important than ongoing execution of the core business mission. Present needn't be prologue. Facebook epitomizes that lesson.

• Endowment evolution: Eduard van Gelderen is stepping down as CEO of the $480 billion Dutch pension APG Asset Management, in order to take the number two investment spot at the University of California Regents, according to a memo quietly posted last night (a broader announcement is expected shortly). Among his UC responsibilities will be to manage a $52 billion public equity portfolio and $1 billion real assets portfolio.

• Counter-anecdotal: It's felt like there has been a recent surge in large venture deals involving both Asia-based companies and Asia-based investors (particularly groups like Tencent). So I asked PitchBook for some data, which came back in the opposite direction.

  • Q1 investments in Asia-based companies by Asia-based investors fell between 2015 and 2016, in terms of total dollar volume, deal number and average deal size.
  • Same for investments in U.S.-based companies by Asia-based investors ($4b into 147 companies vs. $1.47b into 112 companies)
  • U.S. VCs also slowed their pace in terms of Asia-based investments, although deal sizes increased.

• VC tumult? From a reputable early-stage investor: "There's a general weirdness in the market. I've had more term sheets pulled or re-traded in the last month than in the last 10 years."

The BFD

AP Photo/Toby Talbot

Grupo Lala of Mexico is the lead bidder for Stonyfield Farms, the U.S. organic yogurt unit of Danone (Paris: BN), according to the Wall Street Journal. No word yet on price, although China's Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group previously said that it planned to offer $850 million.

  • Why it's the BFD: Danone is selling Stonyfield to secure regulatory approval for its planned $10.4 billion purchase of WhiteWave Foods (NYSE: WWAV), a deal that would double Danone's U.S. business and which represents its largest acquisition in a decade.
  • Bottom line: "Grupo Lala's pursuit of Stonyfield comes at a time when the Mexican company and food producers more generally face increasing pressure to offer healthier foods as consumer tastes change. Grupo Lala generates a little more than 60% of its sales from traditional milk products, but the company's faster-growing segment is the one that offers yogurt, cheese and cream." ―Ben Dummett


Venture Capital Deals

QASymphony, an Atlanta-based provider of agile testing solutions to large enterprises, has raised $40 million in Series C funding led by Insight Venture Partners. http://bit.ly/2ruBNVI

Wandera, a San Francisco-based mobile security company, has raised $27.5 million in combined Series C equity and debt financing. Sapphire Ventures led the equity piece, and was joined by return backers Bessemer Venture Partners and 83North. www.wandera.com

Verse, a Barcelona-based mobile payment company, has raised $20 million in new VC funding led by Spark Capital. www.joinverse.com

Cheddar, a New York-based online video network for business and tech news, has raised $19 million in Series B funding at an $85 million post-money valuation. Raine Ventures led the round, and was joined by AT&T, Amazon, Altice USA, the New York Stock Exchange, Broadway Video Ventures and return backers Lightspeed Venture Partners, Comcast Ventures and Ribbit Capital. http://bit.ly/2qSIFPz

KeepTruckin, a San Francisco-based provider of electronic logs and fleet management solutions for the trucking industry, has raised $18 million in Series B funding. Scale Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by Google Ventures and Index Ventures. http://reut.rs/2pZlVs0

Tiqets, a Dutch online ticketing startup focused on live events and museums, has raised $17 million in Series B funding led by HPE Growth Capital. http://bit.ly/2ruAyFT

Brit+Co, a San Francisco-based digital media and ecommerce site for women and girls, has raised $15 million in new VC funding. Verizon Ventures led the round, and was joined by DMGT, Intel Capital, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Oak Investment Partners, Marissa Mayer and Gary Vaynerchuk. http://tcrn.ch/2qAk27j

JobTeaser, a Paris-based online recruitment platform that is integrated with hundreds of European universities, has raised €15 million in new VC funding. Alven Capital led the round, and was joined by IDinvest and Korelya Capital. http://bit.ly/2qVcLBR

Slice, a New York-based local pizzeria ordering platform, has raised $15 million in Series B funding. GGV Capital led the round, and was joined by return backer Primary Ventures. http://bit.ly/2qwpKXJ

Yopa, a UK-based provider of online real estate services, has raised £15 million in Series B funding. Daily Mail and General Trust led the round, and was joined by Grosvenor Hill Ventures. http://bit.ly/2rrg9Bl

Appear Here, a UK-based marketplace for short-term retail space, has raised $12 million in Series B funding. Octopus Ventures led the round, and was joined by Simon Property Group and return backers Balderton Capital, MMC, Meyer Bergman and Playfair Capital. http://tcrn.ch/2rijG7T

Aporeto, a San Jose, Calif.-based provider of "cloud-native security" solutions, has raised $11.2 million in Series A funding led by Norwest Venture Partners. Existing backers include Data Collective and Wing Venture Capital. www.aporeto.com

Numerated Growth Technologies, a Boston-based real-time commerce platform for banks, has raised $9 million in Series A funding co-led by Venrock and Cultivation Capital. http://bit.ly/2qpSanS

The Farmer's Dog, a New York-based pet food subscription service, has raised $8.1 million in Series A funding. Shasta Ventures led the round, and was joined by return backers Forerunner Ventures, Collaborative Fund and SV Angel. http://tcrn.ch/2qUzeyU

LogicStream Health, a Minneapolis-based provider of clinical process improvement solutions, has raised $6 million in Series B funding led by Noro-Moseley Partners. http://bit.ly/2ru6ycf

Qupital, a Hong Kong-based online invoice discounting exchange, has raised $2 million in seed funding. MIndWorks Ventures and Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund co-led the round, and were joined by DRL Capital and Aria Group. http://tcrn.ch/2ruoIdW

Guesty, a Walnut, Calif.-based platform for professional property managers in the short-term rental business, has raised $3 million in Series A funding. Buran Venture Capital led the round, and was joined by Magma Venture Partners and AltalR Capital. www.guesty.com

Brava, a Redwood City, Calif.-based IoT software and hardware startup focused on the home, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series B funding. TPG Growth led the round, and was joined by The Rise Fund, ), Lightspeed Venture Partners, Next Coast Ventures, Lead Edge Capital, DGNL Ventures and return backer True Ventures (which led Brava's $12m Series A last year). http://tcrn.ch/2pWptLQ

DeePhi Tech, a Chinese deep-learning startup, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding from Tsinghua Holdings Corp., Sigma Square Capital, Xilinx, MediaTek, GSR Ventures and Banyan Capital. http://bit.ly/2rutJ7f

Private Equity Deals

Apax Partners has agreed to acquire Safetykleen Europe, a UK-based provider of oil collection, recycling and other waste management solutions, from Warburg Pincus. No financial terms were disclosed, although earlier reports suggested that the deal could be valued at around €640 million.

Ares Management and The Blackstone Group have made takeover offers for Fidelity & Guaranty Life (NYSE: FGL), an Iowa-based insurer with a current market cap of around $1.6 billion, according to Bloomberg. https://bloom.bg/2ruzPV8

Boyd Corp., a Modesto, Calif.-based portfolio company of Genstar Capital, has acquired Aavid Thermalloy, a Laconia, N.H.-based maker of thermal management solutions, from Audax Private Equity for an undisclosed amount. www.aavid.com

The Carlyle Group has partnered with Swiss trading firm Glencore to bid on Morocco's only oil refinery, to which they had lent $600 million before the facility went bankrupt, according to Reuters. http://reut.rs/2qwfhxh

Hellman & Friedman has offered to purchase Australian newspaper and online classifieds company Fairfax Media (ASX: FXJ) for around A$3 billion, or at a slight premium to an earlier bid led by TPG Capital. http://bit.ly/2qwlXvz

Nautic Partners has agreed to acquire Endries International, a Brillion, Wis.-based distributor of fasteners and class-C parts for OEMs, from Ferguson Enterprises. No financial terms were disclosed. www.endries.com

Public Offerings

Argenx, a Dutch developer of antibody-based therapies for the treatment of severe autoimmune diseases and cancer, raised $100 million in its IPO. The company priced 5.9 million shares at $17 per share, and will trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol ARGX. Cowen & Co. was listed as left lead underwriter. Shareholders include Forbion Capital (10.56% pre-IPO stake), Life Sciences Partners (8.52%), Federated Investors (7.36%), Shire (7.01%) and Percentive Advisors (5.59%). www.argen-x.com

Bright Scholar Education, an operator of international and bilingual schools in China, raised $158 million in its IPO. The company priced 15 million shares at $10.50 per share (above $8-$10 range), and will trade on the NYSE under ticker symbol BEDU. Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank served as lead underwriters. BSE reports under $1 million in net income on $151.5 million in 2016 revenue.

G1 Therapeutics, a Chapel Hill, N.C.-based developer of small molecules for use in cancer therapy and biodefense applications, raised $105 million in its IPO. The pre-revenue company priced 6.3 million shares at $15 per share (low end of $15-$17 range, for an initial market cap of $460 million. It will trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol GTHX, while J.P. Morgan and Cowen & Co. served as lead underwriters. Shareholders include Hatteras Venture Partners (19.79% pre-IPO stake), MedImmune Ventures (16.7%), Ashelman Ventures (15.38%), RA Capital (10.66%), Lumira Capital (7%), Cormorant Asset Management, Aju IB Investment, Cowen Private Investments, Franklin Templeton Investments, Rock Springs Capital, Mountain Group Capital and Tavistock Life Sciences. www.g1therapeutics.com

Synlogic, a Cambridge, Mass.-based developer of medicines based on a synthetic biology and microbiome platform, is going public via a reverse merger with Mirna Therapeutics (Nasdaq: MIRN), a failed cancer drug developer. Synlogic has raised over $100 million in VC funding, from firms like OrbiMed, NEA and Atlas Venture. http://bit.ly/2qwhDwq

Veritone, a Newport Beach, Calif.-based AI platform for analyzing audio and video data, raised $37.5 million in its IPO. The company priced 2.5 million shares at $15 per share, and will trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol VERI. Wunderlich served as lead underwriter. The company reports a $23 million net loss in 2016 on nearly $9 million in revenue. www.veritone.com

Liquidity Events

KKR is considering the sale of its 41% equity stake in Norwegian enterprise software company Visma Group for upwards of €1 billion, according to the WSJ. http://bit.ly/2qv8ZxJ

Sun Capital Partners has hired Rothschild to find a buyer for British bedding retailer Dreams, with Chinese companies Mlily and King Koil China expected to bid, according to China Daily. A deal could be worth around £400 million. http://bit.ly/2qVm1Gk

More M&A

B. Riley Financial (Nasdaq: RILY) has agreed to acquire Memphis-based Wunderlich Securities for $67 million. www.wunderlichonline.com

Lowe's Cos (NYSE: LOW) has agreed to acquire Maintenance Supply Headquarters, a Houston-based wholesale retailer of maintenance supplies, for $512 million. http://reut.rs/2qAbwF7

SiriusXM (Nasdaq: SIRI) is in talks to acquire online radio company Pandora (NYSE: P), according to the NY Post. Pandora has a current market cap just north of $1 billion. http://nyp.st/2rhlTAx

Fundraising

Bain Capital Ventures has committed to making a small number of angel investors via AngelList, with an expected annual spend of between $2 million and $5 million. http://reut.rs/2pOtDtW

Lightspeed China Partners has closed its first RMB-denominated VC fund with RMB600 million (US$87m) in capital commitments. http://bit.ly/2rijVA1

Morgan Stanley Investment Management has raised more than $125 million for a "global impact" private equity fund-of-funds called Integro. www.morganstanley.com/im

Vesalius Biocapital, a Luxembourg-based VC firm focused on later-stage life sciences companies, has closed its third fund with over €65 million in capital commitments. www.vesaliusbiocapital.com

It's Personnel

Adam Nash, former CEO of WealthFront, has rejoined venture firm Greylock as an entrepreneur-in-residence. http://bit.ly/2quBYle

Post Capital Partners has promoted Christopher Cheang to director and head of business development. www.postcp.com

Final Numbers

Data: Yahoo! Finance; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Featured

Cheddar ​streams $19 million in new funding

Cheddar, a live-streamed financial and tech video news site aimed at millennials, announced that it has raised $19 million in new VC funding at an $85 million post-money valuation. Axios spoke with company founder and CEO Jon Steinberg, who previously was president of BuzzFeed. What we learned:

Reach: Eight percent of all U.S. millennials have seen a piece of Cheddar content (90% of them within the past month), according to data compiled for the company by research firm Market Strategies International (which also does audience analytics for Cheddar rival CNBC). The figure was even higher in the 18-24 piece of that 18-34 year-old demographic, leading Steinberg to believe that the content is particularly penetrating on college campuses.

Take it as a compliment: Steinberg knows the criticism that financial news networks often are more "ambient television" than appointment viewing, but he doesn't see it as a negative. "That's what I aspire to be... we want people to look up and glance."

Distribution: Cheddar is available on all sorts of platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and its own apps, but Steinberg is partial to Sling, where his content sits next to CNN and Bloomberg TV. "We're positioned like a cable news network there... and those are our most engaged viewers." He also says that Cheddar ― which currently offers three of its eight daily hours for free ― either has signed contracts or is in discussions with every "skinny bundle" in the U.S., with expectations to launch in almost all of them by the end of Q1 2018.

Revenue: The company expects to do $1 million in June revenue, at which point it also would hit profitability. The new fundraising is basically about stockpiling cash, although there will be some new capital expenditures (each new studio costs between $700k-$900k). "It's not bad to have a bank balance."

Investors: Raine Ventures led the round, and was joined by AT&T, Amazon, Altice USA, the New York Stock Exchange, Broadway Video Ventures and return backers Lightspeed Venture Partners, Comcast Ventures and Ribbit Capital.