February 03, 2021

🎧 Axios Re:Cap speaks with Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), the GOP's ranking member on the House Financial Services Committee, about the upcoming GameStop hearing. Listen via Apple, Spotify or Axios.

Top of the Morning

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Russia's legal system made global headlines yesterday, after a Moscow court sentenced opposition leader Alexei Navalny to a multi-year prison term for parole violations.

In a different Moscow court this week, U.S.-born investor Mike Calvey began fighting for his own freedom against very long odds.

Backstory: Calvey in 1994 founded Baring Vostok Capital Partners, a Russia-based venture capital and private equity firm that's invested billions of dollars into local companies, including Yandex and Ozon.

  • In early 2019, Calvey and several colleagues were arrested on criminal embezzlement charges, stemming from BCVP's 2010 acquisition of a troubled Russian consumer bank.
  • The bank faltered and later merged with another struggling lender that was led by an investor with Russian government ties. Calvey accused the investor of asset-stripping, and the investor countered by accusing Calvey of artificially inflating his bank's value.
  • That investor's accusation ultimately led to Calvey's arrest, even though it read like a commercial shareholder dispute — a civil matter rather than a criminal one.

Fast forward: Calvey and the other investor eventually settled their issues out of court, with Baring Vostok paying around $33 million but not admitting any guilt.

  • That settlement did not solve Calvey's problem with Russian authorities.

What he's saying: Calvey, in his opening statement to the court, plead not guilty and argued that investigators intentionally ignored exculpatory evidence. He also called the charges both "unfair" and "illegal."

  • But it's not clear that Calvey's words will matter, as Russian prosecutors have a longstanding conviction rate above 99%
  • Some of Calvey's supporters argue that the civil settlement could make him the exception to the rule, but that may just be wishful thinking.

The bottom line: Calvey's fate may double as the fate of Western investment in Russia, particularly for deals that may require in-person diligence or negotiation. If he goes away, so does such activity.


Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Kraft Heinz (Nasdaq: KHC) is in talks to sell its Planters snack unit to Hormel Foods (NYSE: HRL) for around $3 billion, per WSJ.

  • Why it's the BFD: This would merge the salted peanuts purveyor with the maker of Skippy peanut butters, creating a conglomerate to torment school lunch proctors everywhere.
  • Bottom line: "At the beginning of the pandemic, sales of pantry staples surged, giving a jolt to classics that had fallen out of favor with consumers. But as that demand wanes, deal making in the sector has picked up, with companies back to retooling their portfolios to meet changing tastes." — Cara Lombardo & Annie Gasparro, WSJ

Venture Capital Deals

Zetwerk, an Indian B2B marketplace for manufacturing inputs, raised $120 million in Series D funding. Greenoaks Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners co-led, and were joined by fellow insiders Sequoia Capital and Kae Capital. http://axios.link/CwR7

🍷 Vivino, a Denmark-based online wine marketplace, raised $155 million in Series D funding. Kinnevik led, and was joined by return backer Creandum. http://axios.link/F8ZY

Good Eggs, a San Francisco-based grocery delivery company, raised $100 million. Glade Brook led, and was joined by GV, Tao Invest, Finistere Ventures, Rich's and insiders Benchmark, Index Ventures, S2G, DNS Capital and Obvious Ventures. http://axios.link/tLxl

Pairwise, a Durham, N.C.-based gene editing platform for agriculture, raised $90 million in Series B funding. Pontifax AgTech led, and was joined by insider Deerfield Management. www.pairwise.com

Tealium, a San Diego-based customer data orchestration company, raised $96 million in Series G funding co-led by insiders Georgian Partners and Silver Lake Waterman. www.tealium.com

Svante, a Canadian developer of carbon capture solutions, raised $75 million in Series D funding. Temasek led, and was joined by Chart Industries, Carbon Direct, EDC and return backers OGCI Climate Investments, BDC Cleantech Practice, Chevron Technology Ventures, The Roda Group and Chrysalix VC. http://axios.link/nnaA

TouchCast, a New York-based virtual events platform, raised $55 million. Accenture Ventures led, and was joined by Alexander Capital Ventures, Saatchi Invest and Ronald Lauder. http://axios.link/pT1Z

🚑 Capital Rx, a New York-based pharmacy benefit manager, raised $50 million in Series B funding. Transformational Capital led, and was joined by return backer Edison Partners. http://axios.link/cCQq

Rescale, a San Francisco-based provider of hardware and software for scientific and engineering simulations, raised $50 million in Series C funding from Hitachi Ventures, M12, Nautilus Venture Partners, NVIDIA, Republic Labs and Samsung Catalyst Fund. http://axios.link/XGMj

Leadspace, a B2B customer data platform, raised $46 million led by JVP. www.leadspace.com

DealerPolicy, a Burlington, Vt.-based insurance marketplace for auto retailers, raised $30 million in Series B funding co-led by 3L Capital and HSCM Bermuda Management. http://axios.link/Lc5H

Granulate, an Israeli provider of computing workload optimization solutions, raised $30 million in Series B funding. Red Dot Capital Partners led, and was joined by Dawn Capital and insiders Insight Partners, TLV Partners, and Hetz Ventures. www.granulate.io

HousingAnywhere, a European rental housing marketplace for young professionals and international students, raised €24 million in Series C funding from Ergeny Investments, VNV Global and Real Web. www.housinganywhere.com

Evinced, a Palo Alto-based provider of accessibility automation software for employers, raised $17 million from M12, BGV, Capital One Ventures and Engineering Capital. www.evinced.com

Flywheel.io, a Minneapolis-based medical research and collaboration platform, raised $15 million in Series B funding from Beringea, 8VC and Great North Labs. www.flywheel.io

Scratchpad, a Walnut, Calif.-based Salesforce data entry startup, raised $13 million in Series A funding. Craft Ventures led, and was joined by Accel. http://axios.link/Efbf

Hip, a commuting platform with offices in Israel and New York, raised $12 million. NFX and Magenta Venture Partners co-led, and were joined by AltaIR Capital. http://axios.link/wuut

WorkStep, a San Francisco-based provider of HR software for large supply chain employers, raised $10.5 million in Series A funding. FirstMark Capital led, and was joined by Prologis Ventures. www.workstep.com

Beam, a web browser startup, raised $9.5 million in Series A funding led by Pace Capital. http://axios.link/sfjj

Superb AI, a San Mateo, Calif.-based provider of training data platforms, raised $9.3 million in Series A funding. Antinum Investment led, and was joined by Premier Partners, Stonebridge Ventures, Murex Partners, KT Investments, and Duke University’s Angel Network. http://axios.link/Em9l

SecurityAdvisor, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based personalized security awareness platform, raised $7.3 million in Series A funding. ClearSky Security led, and was joined by Crosslink Capital, SixThirty Ventures and Cyber Mentor Fund. www.securityadvisor.io

TrustLayer, a provider of risk management SaaS to insurance brokers, raised $6.6 million in seed funding. Abstract Ventures led, and was joined by Propel Venture Partners, NFP Ventures, BoxGroup and Precursor Ventures. http://axios.link/v815

Frontier Nutrition, a Bangladesh-based maker of fortified snacks, raised $6 million in Series B funding from backers like Adjuvant Capital, DSG Consumer Partners, DSM Venturing and IFC. www.frontiernutrition.com

Balance, a San Francisco-based B2B payments startup, raised $5.5 million from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Stripe and SciFi VC. http://axios.link/fORx

🚑 Bot MD, a Singapore-based chatbot for doctors, raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Monk’s Hill Ventures. http://axios.link/OCBq

🚑 HealthTensor, a Los Angeles-based provider of medical decision-making software, raised $5 million in seed funding from Calibrate Ventures, TenOneTen Ventures and Susa Ventures. www.healthtensor.com

Rightfoot, a San Francisco-based provider of debt repayment APIs, raised $5 million in seed funding. Bain Capital Ventures led, and was joined by BoxGroup and SemperVirens VC. www.rightfoot.com

Pandion, a Seattle-based e-commerce parcel network, raised $4.9 million in seed funding. Playground Global and Schematic Ventures co-led, and were joined by AME Cloud Ventures and Innovation Endeavors. www.pandionpro.com

Banxware, a German embedded finance startup, raised €4 million in seed funding co-led by Force over Mass and VR Ventures. http://axios.link/SUB9

Landed, an app connecting hourly food and retail workers with employers, raised $1.4 million in seed funding. Javelin Venture Partners led, and was joined by YC and Palm Drive Capital. www.gotlanded.com

Anthill, a Chicago-based provider of talent mapping software for deskless workforces, raised $1.2 million in seed funding led by Origin Ventures. http://axios.link/0Mac

Private Equity Deals

Cerberus Capital Management sweetened its buyout offer for listed Canadian toymaker Dorel Industries by 10%, to an enterprise value of nearly C$500 million, but two top shareholders continue to resist. http://axios.link/LTA6

CVC Capital Partners agreed to buy the lower-priced skincare and shampoo brands of Japan's Shiseido for around $1.52 billion. http://axios.link/0JCJ

🚑 DentalPro, an Italian company of BC Partners, agreed to buy dental care firm Vitaldent Italia from JB Capital. www.dentalpro.it

EagleTree Capital acquired a minority stake in Frosch, a Houston-based travel management company. www.frosch.com

Hastings Equity Partners acquired MKD Electric, an Elgin, Ill.-based provider of industrial automation and electrical services. www.mkdelectric.com

‎ ️‍🔥 HGGC acquired Marmic, a Joplin, Mo.-based fire protection company, from Thompson Street Capital Partners. www.marmicfire.com

IMC, a digital media platform sponsored by TPG, acquired StackCommerce, a Venice, Calif.-based commerce and content platform for digital publishers and influencers. http://axios.link/QBLJ

🚑 Indegene, an Indian enterprise health-tech company, raised $200 million from The Carlyle Group and Brighton Park Capital. www.indegene.com

• One Rock Capital is in exclusive talks to buy Nestlé's North American bottled waters business, including Poland Springs, for around $4 billion, per FT. http://axios.link/DH9D

TPG Growth acquired a majority stake in People 2.0, an Exton, Pa.-based provider of outsourced global employer of record and agent of record services, from CIP Capital. www.people20.com

VLS Recovery Services, a Houston-based portfolio company of Aurora Capital Partners, acquired PTES, an El Cajon, Calif.-based provider of waste management and other environmental services. www.vlsrs.com

Public Offerings

🚑 Movano, a Pleasanton, Calif.-based developer of wearables for measuring glucose levels and blood pressure, filed for a $41 million IPO. The pre-revenue company plans to list on the Nasdaq (MOVE). http://axios.link/PDD6

ON24, a San Francisco-based digital experience platform for customer engagement, raised $428 million in its IPO. The company priced at $50 (high end of range), will list on the NYSE (ONTF) and reports $11 million of net income on $104 million in revenue for the first nine months of 2020. It had raised $44 million from firms like USVP (20% pre-IPO stake), Canaan Partners (16.3%), Goldman Sachs (14.5%) and Rho Ventures (10.3%). http://axios.link/ABNv

Royal Philips hired Lazard for a possible IPO of its home appliances unit, which could be valued at around €3 billion, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/Ny8J

USA Rare Earth, a round top rare earth project in Texas, hired bankers to explore going public, either via IPO or SPAC, per Reuters. http://axios.link/lVMU

Vodafone (LSE: VOD) is prepping a €3 billion Frankfurt IPO for its towers unit, per Reuters. http://axios.link/iAAk

SPAC Stuff

Photo by Brandan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Ross Acquisition II, a SPAC led by former U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, filed for a $300 million IPO. Directors include Larry Kudlow. http://axios.link/OATz

Payoneer, a New York-based cross-border payments platform, agreed to go public at a $3.3 billion valuation via reverse merger with FTAC Olympus Acquisition (Nasdaq: FTOC). Payoneer had raised over $300 million from firms like Nyca Partners, 83North, TCV and Viola Ventures. http://axios.link/V9an

REE Automotive, an Israeli electric vehicle developer, agreed to go public at around a $1 billion valuation via reverse merger with 10X Capital Venture Acquisition (Nasdaq: VCVC). http://axios.link/YGpa

Agile Growth, a tech SPAC led by serial tech CEO Jay Bhatt, filed for a $300 million IPO.

CC Neuberger Principal Holdings III, a SPAC formed by CC Capital and Neuberger Berman, raised $350 million in its IPO. http://axios.link/ywvX

🚑 EQ Health Acquisition, a healthcare services SPAC, raised $220 million in an upsized IPO.

Finserv Acquisition II, a fintech SPAC led by former Barclays vice chair Lee Einbinder, filed for a $250 million IPO.

Gaming & Hospitality Acquisition, a SPAC led by James Zenni (Z Capital Partners) and Mary Beth Higgins (CEO of Affinity Gaming), raised $175 million in an upsized IPO. http://axios.link/pGv4

The Gores Group filed for a pair of tech SPAC IPOs, one targeting $400 million and the other targeting $240 million.

Kernel Group Holdings, a a tech infrastructure SPAC led by former Supervalu CEO Mark Gross, raised $265 million in an upsized IPO. http://axios.link/iVRZ

Music Acquisition Corp., a music sector-focused SPAC led by Neil Jacobson, raised $200 million in its IPO. http://axios.link/5BQu

More M&A

🚑 Jazz Pharma (Nasdaq: JAZZ) agreed to buy British cannabis-derived drugmaker GW Pharmaceuticals, maker of, for $7.2 billion in cash and stock (50% premium over yesterday’s closing price). http://axios.link/opL3

Repsol (Madrid: REP) hired JPMorgan to spin off its renewable unit into an independent company that could be worth upwards of €4 billion, per El Confidencial. http://axios.link/QKVX


🚑 Abingworth raised $465 million for its 13th life sciences VC fund. http://axios.link/nF0i

Arcline Investment Management raised $2.75 billion for its second private equity fund. www.arcline.com

Charlesbank Capital Partners of Boston raised $3.75 billion for its 10th flagship buyout fund. www.charlesbank.com

• Endicott Group raised $142 million for a growth equity fund focused on the information services sector. www.endicottgp.com

• Halogen Ventures raised $21 million for its second fund. The firm, led by Jesse Draper, focuses on consumer tech startups with at least one woman in their founding teams. www.halogenvc.com

• KCRise Fund, a VC firm focused on the Kansas City region, raised $41 million for its second fund. www.kcrisefund.com

It's Personnel

• One Peak Partners, a London-based growth equity firm, promoted Christoph Mayer to partner. www.onepeakpartners.com

• Michael Noel was promoted to vice president at Great Hill Partners. www.greathillpartners.com

• Arnaud van Tichelen was promoted to principal at PAI Partners, where he focuses on healthcare investments. www.paipartners.com

Final Numbers

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Be smart: Jeff Bezos is stepping down as Amazon's CEO, to be succeeded by AWS boss Andy Jassy, but he's not retiring. Instead he's moving to a newly-created executive chair role, which means he'll remain in charge.

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