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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Levi Strauss is expected to price its IPO tonight, kicking off what should be a banner year for mega-listings.

  • Reports are that the denim giant has strong investor interest that could push above its $14-$16 indicative range, the top end of which would raise around $586 million at an initial market cap of nearly $6.2 billion.
  • The Levi's IPO is a big test of investor appetite or distaste for dual-class share listings. If fund managers will accept it for a company whose founder died 116 years ago, then they'll accept it for tech unicorns whose founders are still in charge (no matter how much Paul Singer objects).

Coming attractions: Bumble, the female-first dating app, is in talks to raise what would be its first round of traditional VC funding, Axios has learned from multiple sources. One potential investor is said to be Accel Growth.

  • Bumble is controlled by a U.K.-based company called Badoo, which we're told originally sought the funding before VCs expressed more interest in Bumble specifically.
  • No comment from Bumble or Accel.

For the dogs: Josh Guttman, who spent more than four years as a partner with SoftBank Capital before leaving at the end of 2017, has founded a veterinary care startup that quietly raised $3.5 million in seed funding.

  • It's called Small Door Veterinary, and envisions itself as One Medical, but for dogs and cats. In other words, higher-end service without (much) higher-end prices, tech-enabled, etc.
  • Lerer Hippeau Ventures led the seed round, and was joined by Primary Ventures, Brand Foundry and individual angels.
  • Guttman tells me: "The physical clinics and equipment will be state of the art. The reason we can do that is the same reason private equity firms like KKR have been so interested in veterinary; it's a profitable industry where a successful clinic can produce 25% EBITDA. We just believe the best way to create a brand that stands for excellence is not to roll things up but to do it de novo."
  • Small Door will open its first clinic this summer in NYC's Greenwich Village.

• CalPERS yesterday approved its much-discussed proposal to upend its private equity investment model, by creating a quasi-independent organization that could directly invest upwards of $20 billion over the next decade.

  • Ten of CalPERS' 13 board members voted in favor, with some minor stipulations. The three board members who had previously raised concerns voted against.

• Update: Backstage Capital, which we discussed in yesterday's issue, informed investors yesterday that Arlan Hamilton is stepping down from the Backstage Studio CEO role, with existing partner Christie Pitts taking the spot. Hamilton will remain managing partner of Backstage Capital. Per Hamilton's email:

"I will focus on brand and vision evangelizing, raising assets under management, and mentoring my team. I will no longer focus on payroll on a monthly basis or what the cost of a ream of paper is."

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The story has been corrected to show that Badoo is based in the U.K. (not Russia).

The BFD

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Inmarsat (LSE: ISAT), a British satellite company, said it received a non-binding $3.3 billion takeover offer from a private equity consortium that includes Apax Partners, Warburg Pincus and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

  • Why it's the BFD: Because this is yet another big-money example of buyout firms returning to a familiar well, as Apax had helped buy Inmarsat in 2003 before later taking it public. It also comes about a year after Inmarsat turned down a $3.2 billion takeover bid from Echostar.
  • Price talk: The $7.21 per share bid represents a 24% premium to yesterday's closing stock price, and a 47% premium based on where Inmarsat shares were trading when the bid was (quietly) made on January 31.
  • Bottom line: "While Inmarsat’s sales of satellite connection services to core maritime and government clients were flat in 2018, it posted strong growth in its aviation group thanks to booming demand for passenger internet connectivity from the world’s airlines, according to its annual report." — Thomas Seal, Bloomberg
Venture Capital Deals

🚑 Doctolib, a French online scheduling platform for doctor’s visits, raised €150 million at a post-money valuation of €1.3 billion. General Atlantic led, and was joined by return backers Accel, Eurazeo, Kernel and Bpifrance. http://axios.link/AM82

Markforged, a Watertown, Mass.-based maker of industrial 3D printers, raised $82 million in Series D funding. Summit Partners led, and was joined by Matrix Partners, M12, Microsoft’s Venture Fund, Next47 and Porsche SE. http://axios.link/C8Hz

Mojo Vision, a Saratoga, Calif.-based “invisible computing” startup, raised $58 million in Series B funding from Advantech Capital, Gradient Ventures, HP Tech Ventures, Motorola Solutions VC, Bold Capital Partners, LG Electronics, Kakao Ventures and Stanford StartX. http://axios.link/3Hp8

🚑 Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) agreed to acquire a 15% stake in Vivet Therapeutics, a French gene therapy startup focused on liver disease, with an option to fully-acquire the rest. The deal includes $51 million upfront and upwards of $636 million in milestone and total acquisition outlays. Vivet previously raised a $41 million Series A round co-led by Novartis and Columbus Venture Partners. http://axios.link/6t96

InstaReM, a Singapore-based cross-border digital payments startup, raised $41 million in Series C funding. Vertex Growth Fund led, and was joined by Atinum Investment. http://axios.link/IOqy

🚑 Unite Us, a New York-based healthcare coordination and outcome tracking platform, raised $35 million in Series B funding. Oak HC/FT led, and was joined by Town Hall Ventures, Define Ventures and return backers Scout Ventures, Luminate and New York Ventures. http://axios.link/8XkI

Insta360, a Chinese maker of 360-degree cameras, raised $30 million in new Series C funding from Everest VC, MG Holdings and Huajin Capital. http://axios.link/wu3L

NotCo, a Chilean developer of plant-based food replacements, raised $30 million. The Craftory led, and was joined by Jeff Bezos’ family office and return backers Kaszek Ventures and IndieBio. http://axios.link/0L9T

Skedulo, a San Francisco-based mobile workforce management software provider, raised $28 million in Series B funding. M12 led, and was joined by return backers Blackbird and Costanoa Ventures. www.skedulo.com

Marketing Evolution, a New York-based provider of marketing measurement and optimization software, raised $26.1 million. Energy Impact Partners led, and was joined by return backers Insight Venture Partners and Zetta Venture Partners. www.marketingevolution.com

Point, a Palo Alto-based equity financing platform for homeowners, raised $22 million in Series B funding. Prudential Financial and DAG Ventures co-led, and were joined by return backers Andreessen Horowitz, Ribbit Capital and Bloomberg Beta. The company also secured a $100 million “platform capital commitment” from Kingsbridge Wealth Management. http://axios.link/lxOY

Blameless, a Palo Alto-based site reliability engineering startup, raised $20 million co-led by Accel and Lightspeed Venture Partners. www.blameless.io

🚑 OptiScan, a Hayward, Calif.-based developer of an automated glucose monitoring system, raised $20 million in Series E funding. http://axios.link/ad4h

Thirstie, a New York-based white-label ecommerce and delivery platform for alcohol brands, raised $7 million in Series A funding from Queens Court Capital. http://axios.link/8WXa

Welcome Pickups, a Greek provider of in-destination travel services, raised €3.3 million in Series A funding from VentureFriends, Market One Capital, OpenFund, Howzat and Jabbar. http://axios.link/LgSV

FrontdeskAI, a Palo Alto-based provider if AI assistants for small businesses, raised $2 million in new seed funding led by India’s Pi Ventures. http://axios.link/I6SU

Private Equity Deals

MC Group, a Mentor, Ohio-based signage company owned by Arcapita, acquired Coastal Signage + Wayfinding, an Oceanside, Calif.-based provider of signage and wayfinding products. www.mcsign.com

KKR told Australian accounting firm MYOB (ASX MYOB) that A$3.40 per share is its “best and final” offer, amid some shareholder calls for the company’s board to reconsider its support for KKR’s bid. http://axios.link/4EhW

PAI Partners is the frontrunner to buy the concessions catering unit of France’s Elior (Paris: ELIOR), which could fetch upwards of €1.5 billion, per Reuters. http://axios.link/fQjf

🍦 Peak Rock Capital agreed to buy Turkey Hill, a Conestoga, Penn.-based dairy products company, from Kroger (NYSE: KR). http://axios.link/SbLj

Public Offerings

China Feihe, a Chinese maker of baby formula, is prepping for a Hong Kong IPO that could raise upwards of $1 billion, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/BrYQ

Up Fintech Holding, Beijing-based online brokerage that does business as Tiger Brokers, raised $104 million in its IPO. It priced 13 million shares at $8, above the $5-$7 range, and will trade on the Nasdaq (TIGR). Citi was lead underwriter for the company, which reports a $44 million net loss on $34 million in revenue for 2018.

Liquidity Events

Air Liquide (Paris: AI) completed its acquisition of Tech Air, a Danbury, Conn.-based distributor of industrial gasses and welding supplies, from CI Capital Partners. www.airliquide.com

Eurazeo sold its 4.8% stake in Italian luxury clothing company Moncler (Milan: MONC) for around €445 million. http://axios.link/qRqt

More M&A

Invesdor, a Finnish crowdfunding company, agreed to buy Austrian peer Finnest in an all-stock deal. http://axios.link/0T43

Janney Montgomery Scott agreed to buy FIG Partners, an Atlanta-based investment bank and research firm. http://axios.link/TK3M

Nexstar Media Group (Nasdaq: NXST) agreed to sell 11 television stations to Tegna (NYSE:TGNA) and eight television stations to E.W. Scripps (Nasdaq: SSP) for a combined $1.32 billion in cash. http://axios.link/fQjf

Tencent is considering around a $3 billion bid for around a 10% stake in Hong Kong-based health and beauty retailer A.S. Watson, per Bloomberg. The seller would be Temasek, which holds a larger overall position. http://axios.link/croY

Fundraising

Ardian raised €6.1 billion for its fifth infrastructure private equity fund. www.ardian.com

🚑 Flagship Pioneering, a Cambridge, Mass.-based life sciences VC firm, raised $824 million for its latest fund. www.flagshippioneering.com

It's Personnel

• Ben Einstein has quietly stepped down as a general partner with Bolt, the hardware-focused VC firm he co-founded in 2012. No word yet on future plans.

The Carlyle Group promoted Chris Finn to chief operating officer. www.carlyle.com

Adrian Percy joined Finistere Ventures as CTO. He previously led R&D for Bayer’s crop sciences unit. www.finistere.com

William Sorabella joined Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher as a New York-based partner focused on M&A law. He previously was with Kirkland & Ellis. www.gibsondunn.com

Carolyn Wintner joined Charlesbank Capital Partners as head of capital markets. She previously was with Bain Capital Credit. www.charlesbank.com

Final Numbers
Source: Renaissance Capital