Axios Pro Rata

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March 30, 2022

🚨 Situational awareness: The SEC today will unveil new rules for SPACs, including changes to safe harbor on forward-looking statements. Just a scant year after they were needed.

Top of the Morning

Illustration of a shipment container being held up by a frayed rope.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Biden administration isn't kidding when it says that it will sue to block mergers it views as anticompetitive, rather than negotiating settlements.

Driving the news: Cargotec and Konecranes, both listed Finnish makers of cranes and other cargo handling equipment, yesterday abandoned a $5 billion merger announced in late 2020. The move came just hours before the U.S. Justice Department was set to file suit, which would have been the seventh such action since President Biden took office.

  • British antitrust regulators also yesterday said they opposed the merger, which had received European Union approval last month.

Why it matters: Resolution will give greater clarity to port operators, particularly when it comes to ordering new machinery or knowing what company will service that equipment. This obviously is important for any industry, but in this case is heightened given the world's shipping and supply chain bottlenecks.

Behind the scenes: U.S. regulators didn't believe that proposed remedies/divestitures would have solved competition issues in a shipping industry that's been consolidating for the past three decades.

  • In short, they viewed Cargotec and Konecranes as trying to play a sort of regulatory arbitrage; believing they could get approval in one jurisdiction that would then cause other jurisdictions to fall like dominoes.
  • If this was indeed the companies' plan, it didn't work.

The bottom line: Consent decrees from the DOJ and FTC once were commonplace. Now they're the exception to the rule. It's a major obstacle to strategic M&A, but could be a boon for private equity.

The BFD

Illustration of a robot bee inside of a honeycomb.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Beewise, an Israeli developer of robotic beehives, raised $80 million in Series C funding led by Insight Partners.

Why it's the BFD: Bees are vital to the world's food supply, but their hives are subject to "colony collapse disorder," during which most worker bees in a colony disappear. Theorized causes range from pests to pesticides. Beewise says its tech can monitor and guard against such threats.

The bottom line: "Beewise said its agricultural technology has saved more than 160 million bees in the past year. Climate controlled and using automated harvesting, the robotic beehives, sheds that are populated by bees and used by farmers, are powered by solar panels." — Reuters

Venture Capital Deals

🚑 Brightline, an SF-based mental telehealth startup focused on young people, raised $105m in Series C funding at a $705m post-money valuation. KKR led, and was joined by insiders GV, Optum Ventures, Oak HC/FT Partners and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. http://axios.link/OkFF

Builder.ai, a London-based low-code/no-code app development platform, raised $100m. Insight Partners led, and was joined by WndrCo. and Nikesh Arora. www.builder.ai

🚑 Neuron23, a South SF-based biotech focused on neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, raised $100m in Series C funding. SoftBank led, and was joined by insiders Westlake Village BioPartners and Kleiner Perkins. http://axios.link/a7B0

Games24x7, an Indian mobile games company, raised $75m at a $2.5b valuation. Malabar Investment led, and was joined by insiders Tiger Global and Raine Group. http://axios.link/LiFs

Cyera, an Israeli cloud data security startup, raised $60m. Sequoia Capital led, and was joined by Accel and Cyberstarts. http://axios.link/wbqY

Nreal, a Chinese AR glasses maker, raised $60m in Series C funding led by Alibaba. http://axios.link/IuIS

🚑 Brightside Health, an SF-based virtual behavioral health startup, raised $50m in Series B funding. ACME Capital and Mouse Partners co-led, and were joined by insiders Bullpen Capital, Triventures and Trousdale Ventures. http://axios.link/JFSl

HackerRank, a Mountain View, Calif.-based developer skills company, raised $50m in Series D funding. Susquehanna Growth Equity led, and was joined by JMI Equity, Khosla Ventures, Randstad Innovation Fund and Recruit Holdings. http://axios.link/QHBl

BoostUp, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based revenue operations and intelligence platform, raised $29m in Series B funding. NGP Capital led and was joined by Canaan Partners, Emergent Ventures and BGV Ventures. http://axios.link/gJzO

Pinecone, a San Mateo, Calif.-based similarity search platform, raised $28m in Series A funding. Menlo Ventures led, and was joined by Tiger Global and insider Wing VC. http://axios.link/nNlJ

Home365, a San Jose, Calif.-based real estate investing and property management platform, raised $26m in Series B funding led by Viola Growth. www.home365.co

Mosaic, a San Diego-based strategic finance startup, raised $25m in Series B funding. Founders Fund led, and was joined by General Catalyst, XYZ VC, Fifth Down Capital and Friends & Family Capital. www.mosaic.tech

🚑 VivoSense, a Newport Coast, Calif.-based developer of digital endpoints from wearable sensor data, raised $25m in Series A funding from Debiopharm and Perceptive Advisors. www.vivosense.com

Electric, a New York-based remote IT support startup, raised $20m in Series D-1 funding from Harmonic Growth Ventures. http://axios.link/XvkQ

Wing Security, an Israeli SaaS security startup, raised $20m in Series A funding. S-Capital led, and was joined by GGV Capital, Harmony Partners and Silicon Valley CISO Investments Group. http://axios.link/YC6T

FinPay, a King of Prussia, Pa.-based patient financial management startup, raised $15m. PeakSpan Capital led, and was joined by Montreux Growth Partners. www.finpay.com

Arena, an SF-based customer engagement communications startup, raised $13.6m in Series A funding. CRV led, and was joined by Craft Ventures, Artisanal Ventures and Vela Partners. www.arena.im

Latitud, a “startup OS” platform for Latin America, raised $11.5m in seed funding co-led by Andreessen Horowitz and NFX. http://axios.link/q6nJ

Airhouse, a SF-based e-commerce logistics startup, raised $11m in Series A funding led by DNX Ventures. http://axios.link/ccq8

Blur, an NFT marketplace for professional traders, raised $11m in seed funding. Paradigm led, and was joined by eGirl Capital, 0xMaki and LedgerStatus, among others http://axios.link/IBAG

Teal, a Seattle-based IoT networking startup, raised $10.8m in Series A-1 funding at a valuation north of $100m from StageDotO Ventures, Stormbreaker Ventures and Capital Eleven. http://axios.link/pOGW

OmniML, a San Jose, Calif.-based lightweight machine learning startup, raised $10m in seed funding. GGV Capital led, and was joined by Qualcomm Ventures and Foothill Ventures. http://axios.link/qtS8

• Glimpse, a startup that enables product placement in short-term rentals, raised $6.2m from GSR Ventures, Origin Ventures and YC. http://axios.link/yFBu

Revvable, an SF-based SaaS for powersports dealerships, raised $5m in seed funding. Tiger Global led, and was joined by Bienville Capital. www.revvable.com

Effectiv, an SF-based risk management platform for financial firms, raised $4m in seed funding. Accel led, and was joined by REV. www.effectiv.ai

Baboon to the Moon, a New York-based backpack and bag maker, raised $3.5m in Series A funding led by Woodland Management. www.baboontothemoon.com

Dapio, a British cashless payment solution, raised $3.4m co-led by Flutterwave and TechStars. http://axios.link/6fLY

RenewaFi, a New York-based startup that helps companies buy and sell renewable energy, raised $3m in seed funding, per Axios Pro. Backers include First Round Capital, Floating Point, BoxGroup and Powerhouse Ventures. http://axios.link/Q0Fa

🚑 Fisher Wallace Labs, a New York-based maker of prescription wearables for neuropsychiatric disorders, raised $2.5m led by SHUFL Capital. www.fisherwallace.com

Nurse-1-1, a Boston-based conversational marketing startup focused on healthcare, raised $2.3m in seed funding. Argon Ventures led, and was joined by York IE and Hyperplane. http://axios.link/tXe7

Private Equity Deals

Antin Infrastructure Partners agreed to invest in Empire, a broadband provider in New York and Pennsylvania.

Goldman Sachs Asset Management agreed to buy NextCapital Group, a Chicago-based corporate retirement plan robo-advisor that had raised over $85m from firms like Oak HC/FT, Transamerica Ventures, Francisco Partners, Route 66 Ventures and IA Capital Group. http://axios.link/XpOe

KKR invested in KDC/One, a Canadian contract designer and manufacturer for the beauty and home care markets, Cornell Capital remains the largest outside investor in KDC/One, which also announced the purchase of Aerofil Technology, a Sullivan, Mo.-based provider of services for aerosol and liquid manufacturing. www.kdc-one.com

🎵 Pophouse Entertainment, a music investment firm founded by EQT’s Conni Jonsson and ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus, acquired the song catalog of house music group Swedish House Mafia. This may be the most Swedish deal in history. http://axios.link/7xcK

Public Offerings

Dubai Electricity & Water Authority nearly tripled the size of its planned IPO, which now could raise up to $5.7b. http://axios.link/6jco

Osprey Technology Acquisition II, a tech SPAC led by Edward and Jonathan Cohen, withdrew registration for a $325m IPO. http://axios.link/Nd3R

Liquidity Events

Advent International is exploring sale or IPO options for Austrian power equipment maker Innio, which it bought for $3.25b from GE in 2018, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/XwRo

🚑 Ardian is seeking a buyer for Inovie Group, a French labs operator that could fetch up to €4b, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/Fz4m

Kayne Anderson, an LA-based energy private equity firm, has launched a review of its oil and gas assets, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/gxSu

More M&A

Agility of Kuwait agreed to pay nearly $750m to buy British airport services firm John Menzies (LSE: MNZS), in which Agility already held a 19% stake. http://axios.link/GeNB

Citigroup (NYSE: C) agreed to sell its India consumer banking business for $1.6b to Axis Bank. http://axios.link/KGlA

DHL Group signed an option to buy up to a 9.5% stake in Canadian logistics firm Cargojet (TSX: CJT). http://axios.link/pW3j

Telefónica (Madrid: TEF) said its Spanish pay TV unit is not for sale after Vivendi (Paris: VIV) inquired, Bloomberg reports. http://axios.link/BVjA

🐛 Ynsect, a French insect protein farm startup that’s raised over $370m in VC funding, agreed to buy Lincoln, Neb.-based mealworm producer Jord Producers. http://axios.link/FYTv

Fundraising

Accel-KKR raised nearly $1.8b for a continuation vehicle for its 2013-vintage tech buyout fund, which was capped at $875m. www.accel-kkr.com

Atomico is raising $600m for its next VC fund and $750m for its next growth fund, per SEC filings. http://axios.link/nR4x

Takwin, a VC firm focused on Arab founders in Israel, is raising $80m for its second fund. www.takwinventures.com

Yellow Wood Partners, a Boston-based PE firm focused on consumer brands, raised $750m for its third fund. www.yellowwoodpartners.com

It's Personnel

Dominic Barton joined LeapFrog Investments as chairman. He’s the former global managing partner of McKinsey & Co. and most recently Canada’s ambassador to China. www.leapfroginvest.com

Lauren Dillard joined Vista Equity Partners as CFO and a senior managing director. She previously was Nasdaq’s EVP of investment intelligence. Current Vista CFO John Warnken-Brill is retiring after 15 years with the firm. www.vistaequitypartners.com

Rob Tanenbaum, a former U.S. hotel REITs exec, joined Starwood Capital Group as a managing director and head of North American hotel asset management. www.starwoodcapital.com

WeWork (NYSE: WE) said that SoftBank partner Saurabh Jalan will join the company’s board, on the seat previously held by Marcelo Claure. The chairman role will go to current CEO Sandeep Mathrani. www.wework.com

Final Numbers: Recession rumblings

Data: Economist Intelligence; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Go deeper: Ukraine war projected to trigger global growth slowdown

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