A green watering can with a dollar sign painted on it.
Oct 25, 2017

Axios Pro Rata

Top of the Morning

The Carlyle Group this morning announced major changes to senior leadership, with co-founders David Rubenstein and William Conway stepping down as co-CEOs, to be succeeded by longtime private equity exec Kewsong Lee and president/COO Glenn Youngkin. Rubenstein and Conway will become co-executive chairman of the Carlyle board, with current chairman Dan D'Aniello transitioning into a chairman emeritus role.

  • Why it matters: Generational succession can be a major stumbling block for private equity firms, and Carlyle today became the largest legacy shop to formally complete the process. Rivals like Blackstone, KKR, Apollo and TPG have made some moves toward succession, but each continues to be led by at least one founder.
  • Why it (also) matters: Rubenstein has been raising his public profile in recent years, agreeing to a 60 Minutes interview about his philanthropy and hosting a Bloomberg TV interview show that also has bled into a growing number of interviewer/moderator roles at high-powered conferences.
  • More: Peter Clare has been named Carlyle's co-chief investment officer, alongside current CIO William Conway Jr.
  • Telling the troops: Carlyle had an all-hands at 9am this morning to share the news with employees.
  • Answer key: In August I asked you to name the U.S. buyout boss who is forming a family office. The answer is Rubenstein, based on multiple sources (Carlyle isn't confirming). Expect it to formally involve at least one of his daughters.

• Autonomous acquisition: Yesterday we noted that Delphi Automotive had agreed to acquire self-driving software startup nuTonomy for up to $450 million. Kia provides some background: NuTonomy went out fundraising with for a Series B round at a $600 million pre-money, reaching out to Delphi (among others).

• ICYMI: Yesterday we reported that Overstock.com plans to launch what it believes will be the largest-ever initial coin offering. Notable that CEO Patrick Byrne — perhaps best known for his crusade against naked short sellers — tells Axios that Overstock may eventually need to split its retail biz from its crypto biz, and that he'd go with the latter.

• Repercussions: BDO USA managing director Basil Karampelas argues that last week's GAO decision on leveraged loan guidance could be problematic for the private credit boom, given that it could reintroduce banks to the higher-multiple lending game.

• Not easy: Amazon's decision to launch Business Prime shipping for business customers in the U.S. and Germany yesterday took a bite out of debt backing part of the recent Staples buyout, per LevFin Insights:

"Staples' North America Delivery's $2.9 billion B term loan due 2024 (L+400, 1% floor) slid roughly a point, to a 98.25–98.5 market, according to sources. Staples Arch Merger 8.5% notes due 2025 were trading off several points on the news, at 91.75 most recently, from quotes of 94.25–95.25 prior and trades of 94.75 going out last week, according to sources."


Cerberus Capital Management has approached troubled Italian airline Alitalia about a complete takeover that could keep the company independent, according to the FT. Its restructuring plan include the Italian government — which has been running Alitalia since it entered administration in May — retaining a minority stake and some sort of profit-share with trade unions.

  • Why it's the BFD: Because Cerberus is going around the formal process, one week after seven suitors submitted binding offers for all or part of the company. Among the bidders were rival air carriers EasyJet and Lufthansa.
  • Portfolio: Cerberus has past experience with both air carriers (e.g., Air Canada) and commercial aircraft leasing (e.g. AerCap)
  • Bottom line: "Cerberus opted not to submit its own binding offer because it considered the terms of the public tender too restrictive. But the New York-based buyout group had since told Alitalia it was still interested in buying the lossmaking airline if it could be comprehensively restructured... Cerberus has suggested that it would be willing to invest funds worth somewhere in the "low nine-digits", or between €100m and €400m." — James Politi, FT
Venture Capital Deals

• Ninebot, a Beijing-based mobile robotics and short-distance transport startup, has raised $100 million in Series C funding from SDIC Fund Management Co. and the China Mobile Fund. www.ninebot.com

• Klook, a Hong Kong-based in-destination service booking platform, has raised nearly $60 million in Series C funding from Goldman Sachs and return backers Sequoia Capital China and Matrix Partners. http://axios.link/RTUQ

• Credit Sesame, a San Francisco-based personalized credit service and financial wellness startup, has raised $42 million in venture equity and debt. Backers include Menlo Ventures, Inventus Capital, Globespan Capital, IA Capital and SF Capital. www.creditsesame.com

• GTreasury, an Illinois-based provider of treasury management systems, has raised $42 million from Mainsail Partners. www.gtreasury.com

• HashiCorp, a San Francisco-based cloud infrastructure automation company, has raised $40 million in Series C funding from return backers GGV Capital, Redpoint Ventures, Mayfield and True Ventures. http://axios.link/SBy4

• Kindred, a Vancouver-based "robots-as-a-service" startup, has raised C$35.4 million in Series B funding. Tencent led the round, and was joined by return backers Eclipse Ventures and First Round Capital. http://axios.link/UJFH

• ChowNow, a Los Angeles-based online ordering and marketing platform for restaurants, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Catalyst Investors. http://axios.link/ipe3

🚑 Doctorlink, a British provider of a digital triage and advice took for surgeons, has raised £20 million from Fidelity affiliate Eight Roads, per TechCrunch. http://axios.link/fvqL

• Averon, a San Francisco-based mobile identity verification startup, has raised $8.3 million in Series A funding led by Avalon Ventures. www.averon.com

• Jiko, an Oakland-based provider of a debit card with cash rewards, has raised $7.7 million in Series A funding from Upfront Ventures, Radical Impact and Social Capital. http://axios.link/CnU1

🚑 Echo, a British medicine management app, has raised £7 million in Series A funding. White Star Capital led the round, and was joined by MMC Ventures, LocalGlobe, and Rocket Internet's Global Founders Capital. http://axios.link/Xb5n

🚀 Ursa Space Systems, an Ithaca, N.Y.-based analytics-as-a-service startup that leverages data from radar satellites, has raised $7 million in Series A funding. Paladin Capital Group led the round, and was joined by NEA, RRE Ventures and S&P Global. www.ursaspace.com

• Current, a New York-based digital payments startup, has raised $5 million in Series A funding. QED Investors led the round, and was joined by Cota Capital. www.current.com

• OpenIO, a French developer of object storage technology, has raised $5 million in funding from Elaia Partners, Partech Ventures and Nord France Amorçage. http://axios.link/YkMb

• Trimian (d.b.a. Mia Contacts), a contacts management and discovery app, has raised $3 million in new funding led by Spark Capital. http://axios.link/qZAq

• Pollen Metrology, a French developer of "smart process control" software for manufacturing, has raised $2.4 million in first-round funding from XAnge and Kreaxi. www.pollen-metrology.com

Private Equity Deals

• CoAdvantage, a Tampa, Fla.-based portfolio company of Morgan Stanley PE, has acquired Total HR Management, a Braselton, Calif.-based provider of HR solutions. www.mythrs.com

⛽ Global Infrastructure Partners, CIC Capital and Canada's Public Sector Pension Investment Board have agreed to buy a portfolio of Asian solar and wind energy projects from Singapore's Equis for $3.7 billion. http://axios.link/Sci1

🚑 Katena Products, a Denville, N.J.-based portfolio company of Audax Group, has acquired Rhein Medical, a St. Petersburg, Fla.-based maker of medical devices for anterior segment surgery. http://axios.link/XLpa

• Lion Capital has acquired denim apparel maker PAIGE from TSG Consumer Partners. www.paige.com

• PAI Partners and BC Investment Management have agreed to acquire Dutch soft drinks bottler Refresco Group (Amsterdam: RFRG) for €1.6 billion. Refresco had rejected a €1.4 billion bid from PAI back in April. http://axios.link/cPGy

• Ultimaker, a Cambridge, Mass.-based maker of desktop 3D printers, has raised an undisclosed amount of private equity funding from NPM Capital. www.ultimaker.com

Public Offerings

🚑 Ablynx, a Belgium-based developer of proprietary therapeutic proteins based on single-domain antibody fragments, raised $200 million in its IPO. The company priced 11.4 million shares at $17.50 per share, which gives it a fully-diluted market value of around $1.29 billion. It will trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol ABLX, while BofA Merrill Lynch was listed as left lead underwriter. Shareholders include Perceptive Advisors (4.52% pre-IPO stake). www.ablynx.com

• Haymaker Acquisition, a blank check acquisition company created by former Starwood Hotels CEO Steve Heyer, raised $300 million in its IPO. It will trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol HAYU, while Cantor Fitzgerald served as lead underwriter.

• Weibo (Nasdaq: WB), a Chinese social network reminiscent of Twitter, is raising up to $700 million via a convertible note offering. http://axios.link/rQmp

Liquidity Events

• Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) has acquired PowerbyProxi, a New Zealand-based developer of wireless power products that had raised VC funding from such firms as Samsung and Movac. http://axios.link/wN22

• ServiceNow (NYSE: NOW) has agreed to acquire SkyGiraffe, a San Mateo, Calif.-based enterprise mobility platform that had raised VC funding from SGVC and Trilogy Equity Partners. www.skygiraffe.com


• Calera Capital, a mid-market private equity firm with offices in San Francisco and Boston, has closed its fifth fund with $555 million in capital commitments. www.caleracapital.com

• Charlesbank Capital Partners has closed its ninth middle-market private equity fund with $2.75 billion in capital commitments. www.charlesbank.com

• GSR Ventures is raising up to $325 million for its sixth fund, per an SEC filing. www.gsrventures.cn/en

• Neuberger Berman has backed a spinout of the private equity team of Italy's Fondo Italiano d'Investimento, via a €300 million secondaries transaction, according to PE International. http://axios.link/8fN9

• Pritzker Group Private Capital is targeting $1.5 billion for a new private equity fund, according to the WSJ. http://axios.link/Hxay

It's Personnel

• Simon Jennings, former global head of private equity at HSBC, has joined HarbourVest Partners as a London-based managing director. www.harbourvest.com