Top of the Morning
Toutiao, a Chinese personalized news recommendation app, reportedly raised around $1 billion in Series D funding at an $11 billion valuation from firms like Sequoia Capital China and CCB International.
- Why it's the BFD: Because 2017 is quickly becoming the year of Chinese tech unicorns. It's not that they didn't exist previously (and, technically, this particular round appears to have closed at the end of 2016), but it feels like we're witnessing a stampede.
- Bottom line: "Besides developing better ways of determining what posts to recommend to users, [Toutiao] has created an artificial reporter, called Xiaoming, that's capable of generating short news reports on European soccer games. It is also working on ways to identify users that might be able to answer specific questions, with a view to offering a service similar to Yahoo Answer or Quora." ― MIT Technology Review
Venture Capital Deals
Private Equity Deals
• Ardian and Credit Agricole have hired Morgan Stanley and Rothschild to find a buyer for French parking lot operator Indigo, which could be valued at around €4 billion, according to Bloomberg. https://bloom.bg/2nI4cV4
• Tennant Co. (NYSE: TNC) has acquired IP Cleaning, an Italy-based maker of professional cleaning equipment, from private equity firm Ambienta for $353 million. http://bit.ly/2o52GhC
• Creat Group of China has agreed to acquire Biotest, a listed German maker of blood plasma products, for €1.3 billion. http://reut.rs/2nl1ppy
• General Electric (NYSE: GE) may launch a sale process for its consumer lighting unit (i.e., lightbulbs), per the WSJ. http://on.wsj.com/2p1R1z5
• Volkswagen has invested $180 million into an auto-focused AI joint venture with Chinese startup Mobvoi. http://tcrn.ch/2oNi0iH
• Roger Chen has joined Silverton Partners as a principal. He previously was with Genacast Ventures. www.silvertonpartners.com
• Yoshiaki Fujimori, former CEO of GE Japan, has joined CVC Capital Partners as the London-based buyout firm's first-ever Japan advisor. www.cvc.com
• Roland Lescure is stepping down as chief investment officer of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, a C$271 billion public pension system, in order to pursue elective office in his native France. Deputy CIO Jude Perez will serve as interim CIO as a search is launched for Lescure's permanent successor. http://bit.ly/2nKRzsj
• Chris Miller has joined Abraaj Group as an investor relations pro, according to Private Equity International. He previously was a director with placement agency MVision. www.abraaj.com