Dan Primack
Featured

Magic Leap confirms $502 million fundraise

Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz
Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for Wired

Magic Leap, the secretive "mixed reality" startup, announced on Tuesday that it has raised $502 million in new venture capital funding led by Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek. This is the same round that Axios discussed last week, based on a Delaware regulatory filing (which authorized up to $1 billion in new shares at an increased valuation). The post-money valuation appears to be around $5 billion.

Bottom line: Investors clearly keep seeing something they like in Magic Leap, but consumers are still waiting for the Florida-based company's first product to debut.

Cap table: In addition to Temasek, other new Magic Leap investors include EDBI (Singapore), Grupo Globo (Brazil) and Janus Henderson Investors. Return backers include Alibaba Group, Fidelity Management and Research Company, Google, J.P. Morgan Investment Management, and T. Rowe Price.

Related: A pair of former Magic Leap engineers today announced that their new startup, which helps streamline the design process of 3D concepts for VR/AR apps, has raised $3.5 million in seed funding.

Featured

North Carolina still hasn't posted job for pension CIO

SZfarmer/Wikicommons

It has been three months since Kevin SigRist stepped down as chief investment officer for the $94 billion North Carolina Retirement Systems, but the NC Treasurer's Office has yet to formally post a listing for his full-time successor. In fact, only one investment job is currently listed for NCRS, even though around a quarter of the staffers present for a March 2017 investment committee meeting have since left.

Bottom line: The NCRS investment staff has been in turmoil since Treasurer Dale Folwell took office in January, promising to reduce fees paid to Wall Street firms but not much of anything else.

Activity: Folwell has pulled NCRS out of some hedge funds for the sake of fee-savings, but plugged that money into cash and bonds instead of into public equity vehicles like passive indexes. He also has not approved any new investments since taking office — including re-ups with existing managers — even though various asset class exposures are currently below approved allocations.

Per Folwell spokesman Frank Lester: "Currently, Christopher Morris and Jeff Smith are serving in the capacity of Interim Chief Investment Officer (CIO). The previous CIO, Kevin SigRist, resigned less than three months ago. In 2009-2010, the Investment Management Division had an Interim CIO for more than 9 month. In 2012-2013, IMD had an Interim CIO for more than 10 months. We are always looking for qualified individuals to assume leadership roles with IMD and the Department of State Treasurer.... We are very pleased with Mr. Morris and Mr. Smith's performance and have not felt the need to post as of yet."
Featured

Nordstrom's deal disarray

A Nordstrom sign is seen at a shopping mall in Brea, Calif. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

Nordstrom said that it will halt its pursuit of a takeover, until at least after the holiday shopping season. The luxury retailer's market cap climbed to nearly $7.8 billion last month on news that it was in talks with private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners, but now has fallen back to $6.7 billion.

Why it matters: Because it's a reminder that not all leveraged loans are originated equally. Bloomberg reports that lenders were tying a 13% interest rate to prospective Nordstrom notes, thus souring the deal. Not only were banks spooked by luxury retail, but also recent events like the Toys "R" Us bankruptcy and a drop in the price of PE-backed PetSmart bonds.

Go deeper: Dollar stores are thriving in rural America

Bottom line: "Nordstrom announced that the going-private transaction is on hold and that they'll revisit it after the holidays. I doubt it. When M&A transactions slow down, they tend not to get revived in such a short time. Part of that is financial and part of that is psychological." — Richard Kestenbaum, Triangle Capital

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Pro Rata

Top of the Morning

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Serial tech entrepreneur and investor Rick Marini has launched Protocol Ventures as the first-ever fund-of-funds for cryptocurrencies, Kia reports.

  • Why it matters: An increasing number of investors are interested in cryptocurrencies as values skyrocket, but they aren't yet comfortable parsing through white papers or picking from the dozens of nascent crypto hedge funds. This is where Marini says his fund-of-funds can help.
  • Who? Marini is best known as the founding CEO of BranchOut, an online recruiting startup that seemed to be everywhere on Facebook until the social network altered its policies. The team was later acqui-hired by Hearst, where Marini remained for two years. His angel deals have proven more successful, with a portfolio that includes Snap, Reddit, Poshmark and AngelList.
  • Marini on ICOs: "Probably 97% of them are garbage and that's a problem the industry needs to clean up."

• Seeing blue: It has been three months since Kevin SigRist stepped down as chief investment officer for the $94 billion North Carolina Retirement Systems, but the NC Treasurer's Office has yet to formally post a listing for his full-time successor (the role is currently being split on an interim basis by two portfolio managers).

In fact, the Treasurer only has a single investment job listed right now, even though a full quarter of the investment staff present for the March 2017 investment committee meeting are no longer with the NCRS. Maybe that's because NCRS hasn't actually made any new investment commitments since new Treasurer Dale Folwell came into office in January — as its only major transaction has been some public fund redemptions that were plugged directly into cash and bonds. No comment yet from a Treasury spox.

Well, well... Saudi Aramco has asked FTI Consulting to halt all IPO investor relations work, according to Reuters, which adds that China has offered to directly buy up to 5% of Saudi Aramco. Doesn't exactly sound like the 2018 float remains entirely "on track," as the Saudis insisted yesterday.

  • Bigger picture, per Axios' Ben Geman: "The deal, if it came to pass, would deepen the energy ties between Saudi Arabia and China, the world's second-largest oil consuming nation after the U.S."

New firm alert: Anthem Venture Partners vets Jon Bauch and Brian Mesic have quietly formed Ankona Capital, a Los Angeles-based firm that will invest in "early growth capital" deals for software companies.

The BFD

Source: Giphy

Nordstrom (NYSE: JWN) said that it will halt its pursuit of a take-private transaction, until at least after the holiday shopping season. The luxury retailer's market cap climbed to nearly $7.8 billion last month on news that it was in talks with Leonard Green & Partners, but now has fallen back to $6.7 billion.

  • Why it's the BFD: Because it's a reminder that not all leveraged loans are originated equally. Bloomberg reports that lenders were tying a 13% interest rate to prospective Nordstrom notes, thus souring the deal. Not only were banks spooked by luxury retail, but also recent events like the Toys "R" Us bankruptcy and a drop in the price of PE-backed PetSmart bonds.
  • Go deeper: Dollar stores are thriving in rural America
  • Bottom line: "Nordstrom announced that the going-private transaction is on hold and that they'll revisit it after the holidays. I doubt it. When M&A transactions slow down, they tend not to get revived in such a short time. Part of that is financial and part of that is psychological." — Richard Kestenbaum, Triangle Capital

Venture Capital Deals

Digital Asset Holdings, the Blythe Masters-led blockchain startup that built a distributed ledger settlement platform, has raised over $40 million in Series B funding led by Jefferson River Capital. http://axios.link/LSqQ

• Spotahome, a Madrid-based platform for booking mid-to-long-term accommodations, has raised €13.6 million in Series A funding from backers like Passion Capital, Seaya Ventures, Howzat Partners, Samaipata Ventures, Mexico Ventures and Samos Investments. http://axios.link/fsm8

• Chope, a Singapore-based dining discovery and reservations app, has raised $13 million in VC funding. Square Peg Capital led the round, and was joined by C31 Ventures, Moelis Australia and return backers NSI Ventures, Susquehanna International Group, DSG Consumer Partners, and SPH Ventures. www.chope.co

🚑 Mission Bio, a South San Francisco-based developer of single-cell DNA analysis, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Mayfield Fund. www.missionbio.com

• Blue Hexagon, an enterprise security startup led by former Qualcomm R&D chief Nayeem Islam, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Benchmark. www.bluehexagon.ai

• Snaps, a New York-based conversational marketing platform for brands, has raised $6 million in additional Series A funding from Signal Peak Ventures. www.makesnaps.com

• Pluto TV, a Los Angeles-based online television viewing service, has raised $5 million from Samsung Ventures. http://axios.link/ON9B

• BridgeU, a British provider of university prep and career guidance software, has raised £4 million in Series A funding. Octopus Ventures led the round, and was joined by Downing Ventures and return backer Fresco Capital. http://axios.link/FRk2

Private Equity Deals

🍔 Affinity Equity Partners has agreed to acquire franchise rights to Burger King in Japan for an undisclosed amount. http://axios.link/lyxp

• The Blackstone Group has completed its previously-announced purchase of Harvest Fund Advisors, an investment management firm focused on U.S. midstream energy assets. No financial terms were disclosed, except that Harvest has around $10 billion in assets under management. http://axios.link/ICCt

• Ferrara Candy, owned by L Catterton, and The Hershey Co. (NYSE: HSY) are among those expected to submit initial bids this week for Nestle's U.S. confectionary business, which includes such sweets as Butterfinger and Baby Ruth, according to CNBC. The deal could be worth upwards of $2.5 billion. http://axios.link/JcWC

⛽ Hull Street Energy has agreed to acquire nine hydroelectric power facilities in New Hampshire from Eversource (NYSE: ES) for $83 million, subject to regulatory approvals. Eversource also has agreed to sell its fossil fuel-based power plants in New Hampshire for $175 million to a partnership between Atlas Holdings and Castleton Commodities International. http://axios.link/prPG

Littlejohn & Co. has agreed to acquire Strategic Materials, a Houston-based environmental services company and glass recycler, from Willis Stein & Partners and Vision Capital. No financial terms were disclosed. www.strategicmaterials.com

• Morgenthaler Private Equity has acquired Bettcher Industries, a Birmingham, Ala.-based maker of food processing, foodservice equipment and medical devices. No financial terms were disclosed, except that Bettcher's ESOP will retain a minority stake. www.bettcher.com

• SFW Capital Partners has acquired a stake in DZone (a.k.a. AnswerHub), a Cary, N.C.-based provider of technical content for software developers. No financial terms were disclosed. www.answerhub.com

• Summit Partners has acquired Harvey Performance Co., a Rowley, Mass.-based provider of cutting tools for precision machining applications. No financial terms were disclosed. www.harveyperformance.com

• Transom Capital Group has agreed to acquire the brands of Loud Technologies, including Mackie, Ampeg and Martin Audio. No financial terms were disclosed.
www.loudtechinc.com

• Truck Hero, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based provider of aftermarket accessories for pickup trucks and Jeeps, has agreed to acquire Omix-ADA, a Suwanee, Ga.-based provider of Jeep and off-road parts and accessories. No financial terms were disclosed. Truck Hero is majority-owned by CCMP Capital, while TA Associates holds a minority stake. http://axios.link/fEKP

The Weinstein Company said today that it will receive a rescue investment from Colony Capital, which also has entered into exclusive negotiations to buy some or all of The Weinstein Company's assets. http://axios.link/ktKa

Public Offerings

ForeScout, a Campbell, Calif.-based cybersecurity company, has set its IPO terms to 4.8 million shares being offered at between $20 and $22 per share. It would have a fully-diluted market cap of around $942 million, were it to price in the middle of its range. The company plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol FSCT, while Morgan Stanley is listed as left-lead underwriter. Forescout reports around a $47 million net loss on $91 million in revenue for the first half of 2017, and has raised over $150 million in VC funding (most recently at a $1 billion valuation).

MongoDB, a New York-based open source database system, has increased its proposed IPO price range from $18-$20 per share to $20-$22 per share. It still plans to offer 8 million shares, and trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol MDB. Morgan Stanley is listed as left-lead underwriter. MongoDB has raised $300 million in VC funding, most recently at a post-money valuation of around $1.7 billion, from firms like Sequoia Capital (16.9% pre-IPO stake), Flybridge Capital (11.6%), Union Square Ventures (9.7%), NEA (7.2%), Future Fund (6.2%), Fidelity, Altimeter Capital Management and T. Rowe Price. www.mongodb.com

🚑 National Vision, a Duluth, Ga.-based discount optical retailer owned by KKR, has set its IPO terms to 15.8 million shares being offered at between $18 and $20 per share. It would have a fully-diluted market cap of around $1.5 billion, were it to price in the middle of its range. The company reports $1.3 billion in revenue for its most recent fiscal year, and plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol EYE. http://axios.link/T5qd

• Toys "R" Us reportedly is considering an IPO for its Asia business, which operates as a joint venture with the Fung brothers. http://axios.link/8Q3V

Liquidity Events

🚑 Boston Scientific (NYSE: BSX) has completed its previously-announced purchase of Apama Medical, a Campbell, Calif.-based developer of atrial fibrillation technologies, for upwards of $300 million in cash (including $175m upfront). Apama had raised around $44 million in VC funding from firms like Ascension Ventures, Broadview Ventures, Grant Park Ventures, Medvance Incubator Partners and ONSET Ventures. http://axios.link/yadL

Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) has acquired tbh, a seed-funded mobile app for making polls and sending compliments to other users, for an undisclosed amount. http://axios.link/x0uk

• Leonard Green & Partners is seeking a buyer for Hong Kong luxury fitness chain Pure Group, which could fetch up to $500 million, according to Bloomberg. http://axios.link/PNmx

• Riverside Partners has sold Pilgrim Quality Solutions, a Tampa, Fla.-based provider of quality and compliance management software for life sciences, to an undisclosed strategic acquirer for an undisclosed amount. www.pilgrimquality.com

• Splunk (Nasdaq: SPLK) has acquired selected assets of Rocana, a San Francisco-based provider of analytic solutions for the IT market. No financial terms were disclosed. Rocana raised around $19 million in VC funding from firms like GV, General Catalyst and Toba Capital. www.splunk.com

More M&A

• Bryan Cave, a St. Louis-based law firm, reportedly is in talks to merge with UK-based Berwin Leighton Paisner. http://axios.link/qhWj

Fandango (LSE: FHP) has agreed to acquire online film ticketing rival MovieTickets.com for an undisclosed amount. http://axios.link/dVya

⛽ Frontera Energy (TSX: FEC), in which Catalyst Capital holds around a 30% stake, has agreed to acquire the 36.36% stake it didn't already own in Pacific Midstream, a Canadian owner and operator of oil pipeline and electrical power transmission lines, from International Finance Corp. for $225 million in cash.

⚽ Mike Ashley is seeking a buyer for Premier League club Newcastle United. http://axios.link/P1qx

Fundraising

🚑 Illumina Ventures has closed its debut fund with $230 million in capital commitments. The group had been launched in mid-2016 with a $100 million commitment from Illumina (Nasdaq: ILMN). http://axios.link/QO1u

• India's National Investment and Infrastructure Fund has secured a $1 billion commitment from Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. http://axios.link/cTsH

Thomas H. Lee Partners is raising its eighth flagship buyout fund, per SEC filings. Dow Jones reports the target is $3 billion.

It's Personnel

Jeff Gruccio has joined AlpInvest Partners as a principal focused on primary investments. He previously was with Prudential Financial. www.alpinvest.com

• Steve Schlafman has stepped down as a principal with RRE Ventures. No word yet on his future plans. Schlafman will not maintain any of his RRE board seats, which included TheSkimm.

Final Numbers

Source: Private Equity Online, via company filings

Featured

Peter Thiel got married over the weekend

A 2012 file photo of Thiel. Ben Margot / AP

Peter Thiel got married in Vienna this past weekend, Axios has learned. Guests came expecting to celebrate the billionaire venture capitalist's 50th birthday, but instead were surprised by a wedding to longtime boyfriend Matt Danzeisen.

Thiel, who was an early investor in Facebook and a co-founder of PayPal, endorsed Donald Trump during the campaign and has been a rare voice of support for the president in Silicon Valley. Thiel's spokesman declined to comment for this story.

Featured

Blackstone's big questions on infrastructure and retail investors

Ng Han Gua / AP

Earnings call for listed private equity firms are usually sleepy affairs, but this The Blackstone Group's phoner this Thursday could be different. Two big questions:

  1. Will Blackstone's mega-infrastructure fund ambitions be hampered by Trump-related changes since it was first announced?
  2. Can Blackstone really scale its retail investor base by lowering its wealth threshold?

Infrastructure: Blackstone in May announced that it was raising up to $40 billion for its first-ever infrastructure fund, including a $20 billion commitment from Saudi Arabia. Now we've got a Bloomberg report that the vehicle won't begin investing until it secures around $10 billion in outside commitments — which would temporarily reduce the Saudi check, given that it's basically a 1:1 match.

  • The earnings call question will be how fundraising has been affected by what appears to be a stalled U.S. infrastructure plan that was supposed to heavily leverage public-private partnerships. Back in May, the Trump Administration was still talking about infrastructure as a 2017 priority, and Blackstone boss Steve Schwarzman was still leading a presidential council of CEOs. Neither of those are still operable.

Retail: The WSJ has a front-pager today about how Blackstone is lowering its threshold for individual investors to participate some affiliated feeder funds, from $5 million in liquid assets to $1 million: "There were 7½ times more U.S. households with $1 million to $5 million in assets at the end of 2016 than there were households with $5 million to $25 million, according to market research firm Spectrem Group."

  • The earnings call question will be how Blackstone plans to attract these investors at scale, in an era in which low-fee index fund have become conventional gospel. Particularly given increased competition within this niche, with The Carlyle Group and Oppenheimer today announcing the launch a joint venture that will offer access to global private credit opportunities for those with at least $1 million in liquid assets. And, if it doesn't really scale, is this just viewed as the price of stage-setting for (maybe) someday being allowed to access the defined-contribution market?
Featured

The Weinstein Co. bailed out by Tom Barrack's Colony Capital

AP / Remy de la Mauviniere

The Weinstein Company said today that it will receive a rescue investment from Colony Capital, a private investment firm led by Trump confidant Tom Barrack. Colony also has entered into exclusive negotiations to buy some or all of The Weinstein Company's assets.

Statement from Tom Barrack: "We will help return the Company to its rightful iconic position in the independent film and television industry."

Statement from TWC director Tarak Ben Ammar: "We believe that Colony's investment and sponsorship will help stabilize the Company's current operations, as well as provide comfort to our critical distribution, production and talent partners around the world."

Dollar details: None yet.

History: Colony Capital in 2010 bought Miramax, the studio founded by Harvey and Bob Weinstein before forming The Weinstein Company. While under Colony's ownership, Miramax and TWC would come to form a strategic partnership. Colony sold Miramax in early 2016.

In case you've been under a rock: The Weinstein Co. has been upended in the past two weeks by dozens of sexual assault and harassment allegations against co-founder and (now former) CEO Harvey Weinstein.

Barrack backgrounder: The Colony Capital CEO is a longtime friend of President Trump, and spoke on his behalf last summer at the Republican National Convention. But he also made political waves last week by telling the Washington Post: "In my opinion, he's better than this."

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Pro Rata

Greetings from the home office, where there is a willing suspension of disbelief on that Seferian-Jenkins play. Please remember to send tips and feedback via email (dan@axios.com), anonymously (http://axios.com/tips) or messaging apps like Signal, Telegram and Confide (Dan Primack / 857.472.3072). Okay, here we go...

Top of the Morning

Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images

Earnings call for listed private equity firms are usually sleepy affairs, but this The Blackstone Group's phoner this Thursday could be different:

Infrastructure: Blackstone in May announced that it was raising up to $40 billion for its first-ever infrastructure fund, including a $20 billion commitment from Saudi Arabia. Now we've got a Bloomberg report that the vehicle won't begin investing until it secures around $10 billion in outside commitments — which would temporarily reduce the Saudi check, given that it's basically a 1:1 match.

  • The earnings call question will be how fundraising has been affected by what appears to be a stalled U.S. infrastructure plan that was supposed to heavily leverage public-private partnerships. Back in May, the Trump Administration was still talking about infrastructure as a 2017 priority, and Blackstone boss Steve Schwarzman was still leading a presidential council of CEOs. Neither of those are still operable.

Retail: The WSJ has a front-pager today about how Blackstone is lowering its threshold for individual investors to participate some affiliated feeder funds, from $5 million in liquid assets to $1 million: "There were 7½ times more U.S. households with $1 million to $5 million in assets at the end of 2016 than there were households with $5 million to $25 million, according to market research firm Spectrem Group."

  • The earnings call question will be how Blackstone plans to attract these investors at scale, in an era in which low-fee index fund have become conventional gospel. Particularly given increased competition within this niche, with The Carlyle Group and Oppenheimer today announcing the launch a joint venture that will offer access to global private credit opportunities for those with at least $1 million in liquid assets. And, if it doesn't really scale, is this just viewed as the price of stage-setting for (maybe) someday being allowed to access the defined-contribution market?

Road trip: Axios tech editor Kim Hart spent last week with Steve Case and the Revolution crew, on their "Rise of the Rest" bus tour through the Midwest. Here are her dispatches from Columbus, Indianapolis, Ann Arbor and York, PA. She also did a Q&A with Hillbilly Elegy author (and Revolution investor) J.D. Vance, about jump-starting the Midwest's startup scene.

  • More from Kim: "Fly-over" states each get only around 1% of the venture capital pie every year, but they're scrappy and have figured out how to punch above their weight in certain industries. Worth watching."

Centralized crypto? Russia reportedly plans to launch something called the "cryptoruble," which likely would be a "closed model with a certain volume of regulated emissions."

• Where in the World? Next week I'll be (briefly) in Las Vegas for the Money 20/20 event, interviewing Stripe co-founder John Collison. Arrive early, because we're on stage Sunday night...

The BFD

Source: Giphy

Saudi Aramco is reconsidering its plans for floating around a 5% stake, as first reported Friday by the Financial Times. One alternative option for the oil behemoth would be to sell shares via private placement to sovereign wealth funds or other large institutional investors.

  • Why it's the BFD: Because this is supposed to become the largest IPO of all time, with Saudi Arabia expected to put its tens of billions of dollars in proceeds toward a long-term economic modernization and diversification plan. Aramco called the FT report "entirely speculative" and said that its 2018 IPO process remains "on track," but that's not necessarily a denial (plus, we're hearing similar rumblings). Pretty remarkable that Saudi might be getting cold feet this far into the process. Is it really possible that concerns over transparency are just coming to the fore now, or is this more about pre-IPO financing — locking in a few large, long-term holders — than it is about IPO replacement?
  • Bottom line: "Score this round one point for the forces of transparency in the capital markets and zero for the forces supporting transparency in Saudi Arabia." — David Goldwyn

Venture Capital Deals

🚑 InflaRx, a German drug startup focused on chronic inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, has raised $55 million in Series D funding from Bain Capital Life Sciences, Cormorant Asset Management and RA Capital Management. The deal includes a $30 million primary tranche and a $25 million secondary tranche. http://axios.link/SSog

LimeBike, a San Francisco-based bike-rental startup, has raised $50 million in Series B funding. Coatue Management led the round, and was joined by Andreessen Horowitz, DCM, GGV, Section 32, Yuri Milner and Kevin Durant. http://axios.link/PP4F

Lefit, a Chinese provider of membership-based access to fitness clubs and instructors, has raised $45 million in Series C funding led by Hillhouse Capital. http://axios.link/Grwd

The Chope Group, a Singapore-based restaurant booking platform, has raised $13 million in new VC funding. Square Peg Capital led the round, and was joined by C31 Ventures, Moelis Australia and return backers NSI Ventures, Susquehanna International Group, DSG Consumer Partners and Singapore Press Holdings. http://axios.link/whRQ

CastBox.FM, a Beijing-based podcasting startup, has raised $12.8 million in new VC funding from firms like IDG Capital and GSR Ventures. http://axios.link/wZUw

Onmyway (f.k.a. OmnyPay), a San Francisco-based "augmented digital commerce" startup, has raised $12.75 million in Series A funding from Nyca, CommerzVentures, Fintech Investment Fund, Commerce Ventures and Industry Ventures. http://axios.link/xhS7

RenewBuy, an Indian online insurance aggregator, has raised $9.2 million from Amicus Capital. http://axios.link/e4zP

Qtshe.com, a Chinese, reportedly has raised $9.1 million in Series B funding from backers like Baixing.com and Jinzhe Capital. www.qtshe.com

123Go, a Chinese automated convenience store operator, has raised $5.3 million in seed funding from Jiuwan Capital and Wu Bo (founder of Lashou). http://axios.link/Grwd

Flont, a New York-based "jewelry as a service" startup, has raised $5 million in funding led by C Ventures. www.flont.com

Supersolid, a UK-based maker of casual mobile games, has raised $4 million in new VC funding led by Index Ventures. http://axios.link/NSrE

Visual Vocal, a Seattle-based developer of virtual 3D environment productivity tools, has raised $3.6 million in new VC funding led by Eniac Ventures. http://axios.link/aR2C

Groupize, a Boston-based provider of corporate meeting booking and management solutions, has raised $3.25 million in Series A2 funding. Thayer Ventures led the round, and was joined by Wayfare Ventures, NTX Venture Fund, Ace Fund and return backers Golden Seeds and Launchpad Ventures. www.groupize.com

Beauty Bakerie, a San Diego-based cosmetics startup, has raised $3 million in seed funding led by Unilever Ventures. http://axios.link/X3MV

SidelineSwap, a Boston-based online marketplace for sports gear and equipment, has raised $2 million in new seed funding from Global Founders Capital, Haystack Partners, Riverpark Ventures, Fullstack Sports Ventures and The Players' Impact. http://axios.link/YRWp

Private Equity Deals

3i Group has acquired Smarte Carte, a St. Paul, Minn.-based provider of airport luggage carts and lockers, for $385 million (including assumed debt) from Fortress Investment Group. http://axios.link/eqwh

Castanea Partners has acquired a minority equity stake in Tatcha, a San Francisco-based luxury skincare brand. No financial terms were disclosed. www.tatcha.com

Colony Capital has entered into exclusive talks to buy all or some of The Weinstein Co.'s assets. It also will provide an immediate investment.

🚑 Invo Healthcare has acquired Autism Home Support Services, an Austin, Texas-based provider of home and center-based applied behavioral analysis therapy to children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. No financial terms were disclosed. Invo is a portfolio company of Wicks Group, The Jordan Co. and Post Capital Partners. www.invocompanies.com

J.C. Flowers will bid to take over German shipping lender HSH Nordbank, according to the FT. http://axios.link/fXOy

Nordic Capital has acquired a 9.96% stake in Stockholm-listed bank Nordax, with an option to purchase an additional 5.04% from Carnegie Investment Bank (pending regulatory approval). http://axios.link/84W4

Prima Solutions, a French portfolio company of The Carlyle Group, has acquired Tricast, a Paris-based provider of predictive insurance analysis software. No financial terms were disclosed. www.tricast-group.net

🚑 SciClone Pharmaceuticals has been taken private for around $605 million, by an investor consortium that includes GL Capital, Bank of China Group Investment, CDH Investments, Ascendent Capital Partners and Boying. The deal had been announced in early June. www.sciclone.com

Public Offerings

Six companies are expected to price IPOs this week on U.S. exchanges: MongoDB, Qudian, LiveXLive, RumbleOn, Rise Education and Sea. http://axios.link/gbAO

Vincom Retail, a Vietnamese shopping mall operator backed by Warburg Pincus, is raising up to $713 million in what could become Vietnam's largest-ever IPO. http://axios.link/SyQS

Liquidity Events

The Carlyle Group has hired Harris Williams to find a buyer for British snackmaker Graze, which could fetch £300 million, per The Telegraph. http://axios.link/699P

Hellman & Friedman has hired Centerview Partners to explore a sale of OpenLink Financial, a Uniondale, N.Y.-based provider of transaction lifecycle management software, that could fetch over $1 billion (including debt), according to Reuters. http://axios.link/Mej7

Nice (Nasdaq: NICE) has acquired Workflex, a Cincinnati-based provider of workforce engagement solutions that had been backed by CincyTech. No financial terms were disclosed. www.nice.com

More M&A

Aramark (NYSE: ARMK) has agreed to acquire Avendra, a Rockville, Md.-based provider of supply chain management solutions to the hospitality industry, from Marriott International (Nasdaq: MAR). Aramark also is purchasing Minnetonka, Minn.-based uniform and linens supplier AmeriPride Services. The two deals are worth a combined $2.35 billion. http://axios.link/J7LJ

✈ Bombadier (TSX: BBDb) is exploring strategic options for its aerospace business, according to Bloomberg. http://axios.link/LUJY

Chongqing Jintian Industrial and Longshang Decoration Co., both of China, each pulled out of a consortium that is seeking to buy a minority stake in the Chicago Stock Exchange, after the SEC "sought more details from the participants about their bid," per the WSJ. http://axios.link/En9y

SS&C Technologies (Nasdaq: SSNC) has acquired CommonWealth Fund Services, a Toronto-based fund administrator servicing over $8 billion in assets. No financial terms were disclosed. www.commonwealthfundservices.com

🚑 Warp Drive Bio has struck a licensing agreement with Roche that could be worth upwards of $387 million. The Cambridge, Mass.-based antibiotics developer is backed by Greylock, Third Rock Ventures and Sanofi. http://axios.link/ssiQ

Fundraising

Draper Esprit has allocated £75 million for backing European seed funds, with initial commitments to Seedcamp and Episode 1 Ventures.

Precinct Partners has launched as a new Abu Dhabi-based venture capital and growth equity firm led by Amjad Ahmad, former CEO of NBK Capital Partners. http://axios.link/O0tp

It's Personnel

Chris Sargent has joined San Francisco Equity Partners as a vice president. He previously was with investment bank Sawaya Segalas. www.sfequitypartners.com

Final Numbers

Private equity valuations & public equity performance (Czasonis, Kritzman, Turkington)

  • Go deeper: "Because private equity managers are less constrained than public market participants by the forces of no-arbitrage pricing, they have greater discretion to introduce biases into their valuations. Based on an extensive sample of private equity valuations, we find persuasive evidence that private equity managers produce positively biased valuations that appear to be rationalized by information that should not be relevant."Private equity valuations & public equity performance

Featured

Bayer selling seeds biz to aid Monsanto deal

AP Photo/Markus Schreiber

Bayer has agreed to sell its seeds and herbicides business to BASF for approximately $7 billion in cash.

Why it matters: This represents a major step toward Bayer receiving regulatory approval for its $66 billion purchase of Monsanto, as Bayer's LibertyLink is a major rival to Monsanto's Roundup products. The sale price also is a bit higher than some had expected, meaning that Bayer may be able to decrease the size of a planned share sale to help finance its Monsanto buy.

Other side: For BASF, this deal a course reversal on seeds and an announcement that it will be in the market for future sector acquisitions.

Dollar details: The involved Bayer businesses had around €1.3 billion of 2016 sales and €385 million in 2016 EBITDA.

Next: Bayer still faces major investigations into the Monsanto deal, by regulators in the U.S., European Union and Brazil. The sale to BASF is contingent on the Monsanto merger closing, which is expected to occur in early 2018.

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M33 Growth launches to back bootstrapped businesses

M33 Growth has launched as a Boston-based growth equity firm focused on bootstrapped businesses with at least $5 million in revenue. It also has raised $180 million for its debut fund.

Big name: Brian Shortsleeve, a longtime investor with VC firm General Catalyst, who left a couple years back to run the troubled state transit authority for Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

  • Target sectors: Software, healthcare and services.
  • Team: Brian Shortsleeve; Gabriel Ling (ex-General Catalyst) and Michael Anello (ex-VP of Valor Equity's operations group).
  • Per Shortsleeve: "One of the areas I really focused on at the [MBTA] was leveraging technology and industry. For example, we launched a big partnership with Uber and Lyft... And while public service was a great thing to do, my real passion is helping to build companies and I always expected to return to the business world."