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Global merger and acquisition activity hit $3.9 trillion in 2019, according to Refinitiv.

  • That represents a 3% decrease from 2018, but was still the fourth-largest dollar volume in history and sixth straight year above $3 trillion.
  • Record-high stock markets and laughably-low interest rates proved more compelling than rising regulatory, geopolitical, and trade uncertainties.

Activity was driven by mega-deals, or transactions valued at more than $10 billion.

  • Mega-deals represented 31% of the global total, a sizable jump from 2018 and the largest-such percentage since 2015 (the busiest-ever year for M&A).
  • This trend also is reflected in how the number of deals decreased 5% year-over-year, and represented a 3-year low.

U.S. deal activity was another upward driver, hitting $1.8 trillion.

  • That's a 6% rise over 2018, and includes 15 of the year's 20 largest announced transactions.
  • The year's largest deal was in the U.S. healthcare sector (+26% year-over-year), with Bristol-Myers Squibb buying Celgene for $74 billion.

Europe and Asia-Pacific (ex-Japan) volume fell 25% and 14%, respectively.

  • Cross-border deals were off 25%, hitting its lowest volume in five years.

The bottom line: 2019 was bolstered by a busy fourth quarter, and it wouldn't be surprising to see that extend a bit into 2020. But then all bets are off β€” particularly in a presidential election year that could cause some bulls to slow their stampede.


πŸš‘ Care concerns: A new study finds that hospital mergers do not result in increased patient satisfaction or better clinical care.

  • Axios' Bob Herman writes: "Research has already shown hospital mergers, which have boomed over the past 20 years, raise prices. Analysis now shows, contrary to the hospital industry's assertions, that mergers also do nothing to make patient care better."

β€’ Retail reality check: Home decor and furniture retailer Pier 1 Imports yesterday said that it will close up to 450 of its 942 stores, and also shut some distribution centers.

  • Pier 1 is a publicly-traded company, not a private equity-owned company. As such, it complicates the popular narrative about how legacy chain retailers could thrive if not for buyout barons.
  • Pier 1 shares hit a post-crisis high of around $480 per share in 2013, but closed trading yesterday at $5.18 per share.

πŸ”₯ Pro Rata Podcast digs into the Australia wildfires, and if they could lead to a political tipping point on climate change. Listen here.


Borden, a Dallas-based milk and cheese producer founded in 1857, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

  • Why it's the BFD: This is the second major U.S. dairy to go bankrupt in the past two months, following market leader Dean Foods, with blame being placed on everything from declining milk consumption to truck driver shortages.
  • PE angle: Borden was acquired in 2017 by Washington, D.C.-based buyout firm ACON Investments.
  • Bottom line: "Consumption of fluid milk, which accounts for the vast majority of Borden’s revenue, has been declining for decades, with per capita consumption down about 40% since 1975, according to Agriculture Department data. Meanwhile, dairy alternatives like milks from soy, oats, almonds and other sources have been on the rise." β€” Niraj Chokshi, NY Times
Venture Capital Deals

πŸš‘ Sonendo, a developer of acoustic-based root canal technology, raised $85 million. EW Healthcare Partners led, and was joined by Redmile Group, ArrowMark Partners, Broadfin Capital and return backers General Atlantic, Orbimed, Meritech Capital Partners, CVF, NeoMed Management, Perceptive Advisors, JMR Capital, SEB Private Equity, and Security Pacific Finance.

β€’ BigID, an Israeli privacy compliance platform, raised $50 million in new Series C funding from Tiger Global.

β€’ The Guild, an Austin, Texas-based short-term apartment rental platform, raised $25 million in Series B funding from Nicol Investment Co. and return backers Maveron and Convivialite.

β€’ Juro, a UK-based legal contract tech startup, raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Union Square Ventures.

πŸš‘ Nunaps, a South Korean developer of VR therapies for brain damage, raised $4.2 million from Company K Partners, KTB Network, and K2 Investment Partners.

πŸš‘ TeleVet, an Austin, Texas-based platform for connecting veterinary clinics to clients, raised $2 million in seed funding co-led by Dundee VC and Mercury Fund.

Private Equity Deals

β€’ Colony Capital paid $185 million to acquire stock in DataBank, a Dallas-based data center operator, from Edgewater Funds and Allstate.

β€’ Crossplane Capital acquired TransAxle, a Cinnaminson, N.J.-based provider of drivetrain components for trucking companies.

β€’ Frontenac acquired Prime Technology Group, a Wayne, Penn.-based provider of outsourced app development managed software for highly-regulated industries, from Renovus Capital Partners.

β€’ The Halifax Group acquired TriMech, a Glen Allen, Va.-based provider of computer-aided design and engineering software, from McCarthy Capital.

β€’ Insight Partners agreed to buy Armis, a Palo Alto-based enterprise IoT security platform, for $1.1 billion. CapitalG also participated with a $100 million investment. Armis had raised $110 million from firms like Sequoia Capital, Bain Capital Ventures, Tenaya Capital, and Red Dot Capital.

β€’ MSI Express, a Mandeville, La.-based portfolio company of HCI Equity Partners, acquired Power Packaging, a St, Charles, Ill.-based contract manufacturing and packaging company for the CPG market, from DHL.

β€’ Pacific Handy Cutter, an Irvine, Calif.-based portfolio company of Levine Leichtman Capital Partners, acquired Molding Solutions, a maker of plastic injection-molded products for safety cutters.

β€’ Pestell Nutrition, a Canadian portfolio company of Wind Point Partners, acquired Origination O2D, a Maplewood, Minn.-based distributor of animal feed ingredients.

β€’ Premier Forge Group, a Portland, Ind.-based portfolio company of Wynnchurch Capital, acquired Amforge, an Azuna, Calif.-based maker of closed die, upset and rolled ring forgings for the aerospace, defense and energy industries.

πŸš‘ Provation Medical, a Minneapolis-based portfolio of Clearlake Capital, acquired MD-Reports, a Staten Island-based provider of electronic medical records and practice management software.

πŸš‘ Sheridan Capital Partners invested in Tarrytown Expocare, an Austin, Texas-based long-term care pharmacy for patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

β€’ Sun Capital Partners bought Cotton Holdings, a Houston-based provider of infrastructure support services for the commercial restoration market.

β€’ Trinity Hunt Partners bought a majority stake in Dataprise, a Rockville, Md.-based IT managed services provider.

β€’ Warburg Pincus agreed to buy Sundyne, an Arvada, Colo.-based provider of aftermarket industrial pumps and compressors, from BC Partners and The Carlyle Group.

Public Offerings

πŸš‘ Arcutis Biotherapeutics, a Westlake Village, Calif.-based dermatological drug developer, filed for a $100 million IPO. The pre-revenue compaany plans to trade on the Nasdaq (ARQT) with Goldman Sachs as lead underwriter, and raised from firms like Frazier Life Sciences (37% pre-IPO stake), OrbiMed (15%), and Bain Capital Life Sciences (13.5%).

β€’ Caixa Economica Federal, Brazil’s state-owned lender, picked a Morgan Stanley-led syndicate of 10 banks for an IPO of its insurance unit, per Reuters.

πŸš‘ One Medical, a chain of primary care clinics that's raised over $500 million in VC funding from firms like Benchmark and GV, filed for an IPO.

β€’ Professional Holding Corp., a bank serving Florida’s Miami-Dade area, filed for a $75 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq (PFHD) with Stephens as lead underwriter. Backers include BayBoston Capital and EJF Capital.

β€’ Velocity Financial, a Westlake Village, Calif.-based mortgage lender backed by Snow Phipps, set IPO terms to 7.3 million shares at $14-$16. It would have a fully-diluted market value of $285 million, were it to price in the middle, and plans to trade on the NYSE (VEL) with Wells Fargo as lead underwriter.

Liquidity Events

β€’ John Wiley & Sons (NYSE: JW) acquired Mthree, a London-based tech education provider, from ECI Partners for Β£98 million in cash.

More M&A

β€’ Accenture (NYSE: ACN) acquired Maihiro, a German provider of customer experience and CRM software.

β€’ ADT (NYSE: ADT) acquired Defenders, an Indianapolis-based provider of residential security services, for around $381 million.

πŸš‘ Galecto, a Danish biotech focused on inflammation and fibrosis, will merge with San Diego’s PharmAkea. Galecto has raised over $100 million in VC funding from firms like OrbiMed, Ysios Capital, M Ventures, Novo Holdings, and Sunstone Life Science Ventures. PharmAkea backers include Bay City Capital and Celgene.

πŸ” Yum Brands (NYSE: YUM) agreed to buy fast-casual burger chain Habit Restaurants (Nasdaq: HABT) for $375 million, or $14 per share (33% premium).

It's Personnel

πŸš‘ Vineeta Agarwala joined Andreessen Horowitz as a partner focused on healthcare investments. She previously was a venture partner with GV and director of product management at Flatiron Health.

β€’ Jack Chou, former head of product at Pinterest, joined Oak HC/FT as a senior advisor.

β€’ Colony Capital promoted Andrew Witt to COO of global credit and Kevin Smithen to global head of strategy and capital formation.

β€’ Glenn Cummins joined Blue Wolf Capital Partners as COO. He previously was with Star America Infrastructure Partners.

β€’ Antonia Rojas Eing joined Mexican venture firm ALLVP as a partner.

β€’ LLR Partners promoted Sasank Aleti and Michael Levenberg to partner.

β€’ Charlotte Salasky joined London-based VC firm Notion Capital as director of investor relations, per her LinkedIn page. She previously was with Asante Capital Group.

β€’ Silversmith Capital Partners promoted Marc Munfra to operating partner, Nikhil Marathe to principal, and Lyndsay Kerwin and Jay Leventhal to VP.

Final Numbers
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Reproduced from FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

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