May 29, 2018

Axios Pro Rata

By Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Top of the Morning
Source: Giphy

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has officially proposed cancelling the International Entrepreneur Rule, in what would be the most counterproductive piece of economic policy in recent memory.

  • This is not the Startup Visa bill, which remains mired in legislative limbo, but it's got the same objective: Make it easier for foreign founders to create U.S.-based companies.
  • IEP provides temporary visas for foreign nationals who have raised at least $250,000 from U.S. investors, with extensions dependent on their startups demonstrating growth via metrics like new hiring, revenue and follow-on investment.
  • When DHS first tried (and failed) to delay IEP last year, I asked readers to give me a good argument against the program. Still waiting...

U.S. M&A activity has topped $800 billion, which is 72% higher than year-to-date 2017, per Thomson Reuters. Global deal volume is $2.06 trillion (+68%), with Europe leading (+137%) and ex-Japan Asia lagging (+21%).

What the hell happened at GE? Fortune's Geoff Colvin dives deep, including the good and (mostly) bad of former CEO Jeff Immelt's spending spree.

"Inescapable conclusion: This place is an unholy mess."

We've previously discussed NSO Group, the Israeli cybersecurity company whose software was allegedly used by the Mexican government to spy on opposition lawmakers, journalists and human rights lawyers.

Blackstone Group last year bailed on talks to buy a 40% stake in NSO, but WSJ now reports that Verint Systems (Nasdaq: VRNT) is nearing a $1 billion deal for the whole thing.

Getting junkier: Goldman Sachs analyst Lotif Karoui writes that "the premium currently embedded in high-yield spreads is mispriced even if default losses do not ratchet up to recession-like levels."

• Breaking: KKR this morning announced a deal to buy BMC Software from Bain Capital and Golden Gate Capital:

  • No terms were disclosed, but we hear the price was below the $10 billion figure that has been bandied about. But well above the $6.9 billion that Bain and GGC paid to take BMC private five years ago.
  • Bain and GGC had previously tried to buy CA and then merge it with BMC, but ran into financing troubles. Rival bidder Thoma Bravo reportedly wanted to merge BMC with existing portfolio company Compuware.
  • We hear KKR plans to go it alone, but don't be surprised if it ramps up the add-on acquisition engine (something BMC was famous for prior to its take-private). Nothing specific is baked into the deal, however.
  • In terms of organic growth, a source says that KKR believes Bain and GGC focused primarily on product, and that it can capitalize on available go-to-market.
Source: Giphy

JAB Holdings has agreed to buy London-based sandwich shop chain Pret a Manger from Bridgepoint for a reported $2 billion.

  • Why it's the BFD: Because Luxembourg-based JAB is becoming the biggest food group most people have never heard of, particularly in terms of retail chains that sell coffee.
  • Prior acquisitions include Krispy Kreme, Peet's Coffee, Caribou Coffee, Panera Bread, Espresso House and Einstein Bros Bagels. Plus the recent mega-deal for Dr Pepper Snapple, which JAB will merge with Keurig Green Mountain.
  • Bottom line: "JAB aims to succeed where McDonald’s stumbled. The U.S. fast-food giant in 2001 took a 33% stake in Pret. The ensuing rapid international expansion, quickly opening 14 stores in Japan, brought Pret close to bankruptcy. It was forced to retrench and cut costs. McDonald’s sold its stake to Bridgepoint in 2008, which also acquired other shares, paying about $265 million to secure a majority stake." — Saabira Chaudhuri, WSJ
Venture Capital Deals

🚑 PACT Pharma, a Hayward, Calif.-based immuno-oncology startup, raised $95 million in new funding. GV led, and was joined by Canaan Partners, Invus Group and Casdin Capital.

BRD, a crypto wallet platform, raised $32 million from backers like East Ventures via a token sale.

CTRL Labs, a New York-based developer of neural interface technology, raised $28 million in new funding. Lux Capital led, and was joined by GV, Vulcan Capital, Founders Fund, the Amazon Alexa Fund and return backers Spark Capital, Matrix Partners, Breyer Capital, and Fuel Capital.

Phenom People, an Ambler, Penn.-based talent relationship marketing startup, raised $22 million in Series B funding. AXA Venture Partners led, and was joined by Sierra Ventures, Sigma Prime Ventures and Omidyar Ventures.

CoreView, a New York-based provider of Office 365 management solutions for the enterprise, has raised $20 million from Insight Venture Partners.

🚑 Lion TCR, a Singapore-based developer of T-cell therapies for viral-related cancer, raised $20 million in Series A funding from backers like Yashang Capital and Westlake VC.

Comet, a French marketplace of tech and data freelancers, raised €11 million from Otium Venture and Daphni.

Albert, a personal finance tracking and recommendations app, raised $5 million in Series A funding form American Express Ventures, QED Investors and Portag3.

Porter Road, a Nashville-based butchery, raised $3.7 million from Max Ventures, Slow Ventures, BoxGroup, Tribeca Venture Partners, Collaborative Fund and Great Oaks VC.

🍷 Bright Cellars, a Milwaukee-based wine subscription service, raised $2.8 million from Cleveland Avenue, Northwestern Mutual and CSA Partners.

Flock, a London-based provider of drone insurance, raised £2.25 million in seed funding led by Anthemis.

Private Equity Deals

⛽ Artis Exploration, a Calgary-based E&P, has raised C$180 million in growth equity funding from Warburg Pincus.

Battery Ventures has invested in Learnosity, an Ireland-based provider of digital learning SaaS products.

Fenway Partners has acquired Iconic Group, an Atlanta-based provider of photography services at university and college graduations.

Sumeru Equity Partners has invested in GoGuardian, a Los Angeles-based provider of K-12 edtech software.

Public Offerings

2 micro-cap companies are expected to price IPOs this week: Ambow Education and Hancock Jaffe Labs. Six companies, including BJ’s Wholesale Club and Adaptive Insights, can launch their IPOs this week.

⛽ Carbon Natural Gas Co., a Denver-based oil and gas E&P backed by Yorktown Partners, filed for a $75 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq (CRBO) with RBC as lead underwriter.

🚑 Eidos Therapeutics, a San Francisco-based developer of oral therapies for rare neurodegenerative diseases, filed for a $115 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq (EIDX) with J.P. Morgan as lead underwriter. BridgeBio holds nearly a 63% stake, while other backers include Aisling Capital, Perceptive Advisors, RA Capital and Viking Global Investors.

🚲 SoulCycle on Friday withdrew IPO registration, citing "market conditions."

⛽ Viva Energy, an Australian petroleum refiner and seller, is expected to go public in July at a valuation of nearly A$5 billion, per Reuters.

Liquidity Events

Kaltura, a New York-based enterprise video platform that has raised over $160 million, has acquired Rapt Media, a Boulder, Colo.-based interactive video platform company that had raised funding from firms like Boulder Ventures.

🚑 Myriad Genetics (Nasdaq: MYGN) has agreed to buy Counsyl, a South San Francisco-based prenatal and carrier DNA screening company, for $375 million in cash and stock. Counsyl had raised around $230 million in VC funding from firms like Perceptive Advisors, Pilot Growth Equity, Founders Fund, Great Oaks VC, Gramercy Fund, Felicis Ventures and Goldman Sachs.

More M&A

🚑 Alibaba Group (NYE: BABA) will sell part of its Tmall online pharmacy and health products business to Alibaba Health IT (HK: 241) for around $1.35 billion in stock (raising the parent company’s stake from 48.1% to 56.2%).

  • Alibaba and its Cainiao unit will invest $1.38 billion for around a 10% stake in Chinese express delivery company ZTO Express.

Bain Capital Credit has agreed to acquire a €1.45 billion portfolio of bad commercial loans from Greek lender Piraeus.

CentralReach, a Pompano Beach, Fla.-based provider of electronic health record and clinic management software, has acquired Chartlytics, a State Valley, Penn.-based provider of data measurement and analytics technologies. CentralReach recently raised funding from Insight Venture Partners.

KWS, a listed German seed company, has offered to buy Bayer’s vegetable seed business, which Bayer already agreed to sell to BASF in order to help gain regulatory approval for its planned merger with Monsanto.

Ningbo Jifeng Auto Parts, a listed Chinese auto parts supplier, has offered to buy listed German rival Grammer for around €772 million.

🚑 Smiths Group (LSE: SMIN) said that it is in early talks about merging its medical unit with ICU Medical (Nasdaq: ICUI).

Swiss Re (Swiss: SRENH) said that it has ended talks over selling a minority interest to SoftBank.


Banyan Capital, a Chinese venture capital firm, changed its name to Gaorong Capital.

Caffeinated Capital is raising up to $75 million for its third fund, per an SEC filing.

Collaborative Fund, a New York-based early-stage VC firm, has quietly closed its fourth fund with $100 million.

Genesis Capital, a growth equity fund led by former Tencent execs, is raising up to $600 million for its second fund, per an SEC filing.

XSeed Capital is raising up to $100 million for a new fund, per an SEC filing.

It's Personnel

Joe Azelby is stepping down as head of real assets at Apollo Global Management, just a year after joining from J.P. Morgan, per Bloomberg.

Ivan Gotatyy (ex-Google engineer) and Haseeb Qureshi (ex-Airbnb engineer) have joined crypto hedge fund MetaStable Capital as general partners.

• NEA has promoted Carmen Chang to general partner, making her the VC firm's first-ever female GP.

Final Numbers
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Data: Census Bureau; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios
Dan Primack

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