Dec 4, 2018

Axios Pro Rata

By Dan Primack
Dan Primack

🍺 New York City students: Take a study break tomorrow night and stop by Amity Hall for an Axios Happy Hour, including free drinks, snacks and a conversation about the future of news. RSVP here.

Top of the Morning

Illustration by Aïda Amer/Axios

Canadian cannabis company Cronos last night confirmed it's in talks to receive an investment from Altria Group, the Marlboro cigarettes maker that is also seeking an equity stake in American vaping giant Juul.

Why it matters: Sin industries are consolidating.

  • Altria wants to create a one-stop shop for legal, inhaled narcotics. If you're allowed to smoke it, Altria wants to sell it to you. These minority investment efforts feel like toeholds for future acquisition.
  • Alcohol and beer companies have also been pushing hard into cannabis, including Constellation Brands recently investing $4 billion in Canopy Growth. These deals have been largely around the idea of cannabis-infused beverages, but the ultimate result could be single companies with overlapping product lines that also maintain "original" verticals.
  • Cannabis may be the glue that ultimately leads to mergers between big alcohol and big tobacco — two industries that previously worked together on shared regulatory goals and which also once had lots of common ownership (e.g., Philip Morris owning Miller Brewing from 1969-2002).

Survey says: Fund placement agent Probitas Partners is out with its annual survey of institutional investors, which continue to plug record amounts into private equity funds. Some takeaways:

  • LPs are concerned about middle-market purchase price multiples in both North America and Europe. This is notable, as such worries usually focused exclusively on larger deals.
  • UK fundraising has remained strong, but only because of interest from North American and Asian investors. European LPs have soured due to Brexit.
  • Interest is down for emerging markets. It's up for sector-specific funds, most notably healthcare and tech, and for venture capital.

🌏 Where in the World? Pre-dawn greetings from Half Moon Bay, where later this morning I'll interview Third Love co-CEO Heidi Zak and 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki. Look forward to seeing some of you.

🎧 Podcast: Our new episode focuses on the tentative trade truce between the U.S. and China, which I discuss with Axios' Felix Salmon. Listen here.


Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images

L2 Capital Partners and Lakewood Capital acquired Orion Talent, a Cary, N.C.-based HR management platform focused on hiring military veterans.

  • Why it's the BFD: Because it can be difficult for some military veterans to find civilian work after retiring or being discharged, due to factors like mismatched skills and employer concerns about redeployment. Go deeper.
  • Bottom line: "Finding jobs, while easier than in the past, isn't the only obstacle facing veterans. There's also a need to learn how civilians interact in the workplace. Veterans describe civilian work atmospheres as more relaxed and casual than in the military, with lines of command often not as clear-cut." — Russ Wiles, The Arizona Republic
Venture Capital Deals

Lufax, a Chinese online lender backed by Ping An, raised $1.33 billion in new funding at a $38 billion pre-money valuation, per Reuters. Primavera Capital led, and was joined by Quatar Investment Authority, All-Star Investors and SBI Holdings.

Keking, a Shanghai-based provider of cloud-based logistics services, raised $144 million in Series C funding. Ant Financial and Centurium Capital co-led, and were joined by Sequoia Capital China, Tebon Securities and Shanghai Tengyi Industrial.

🚑 Aprea Therapeutics, a Swedish developer of oncology drugs, raised €50 million in Series C funding. Redmile Group led, and was joined by Rock Springs Capital and return backers 5AM Ventures, Versant Ventures, HealthCap, Sectoral Asset Management and Karolinska Development.

🚑 Tactiva Therapeutics, a Buffalo, N.Y.-based immunooncology startup, secured $35 million in Series A funding. Panacea Ventures led, and was joined by Vi Ventures and Efung Capital.

Ultrahaptics, a British developer of mid-air touch technology, raised £35 million in Series C funding. Mayfair Equity Partners led, and was joined by Hostplus and return backers IP Group, Woodford Investment, Cornes and Dolby Family Ventures.

🍓 Agricool, a French container-farming startup, raised $28 million. Bpifrance, Danone Manifesto Ventures, Marbeuf Capital and Solomon Hykes were joined by return backers daphni, XAnge, Henri Seydoux and Kima Ventures. Its initial crop is strawberries.

SnapTravel, a Toronto-based travel assistant app, raised US$21.2 million in Series A funding from backers like Telstra Ventures and Steph Curry.

🚑 Oura Health, a Finnish sleep-tracking startup, raised over $20 million led by MSD Capital.

Chewse,, a San Francisco-based corporate food catering startup, raised $19 million from backers like Foundry Group, Greenspring Associates, 500 Startups and Gingerbread Capital.

Bios, a UK-based neural engineering startup, raised $4.5 million in seed funding co-led by Real Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures and Ariel Poler.

🚑 Revive Solutions, a San Francisco-based developer of an automated external defibrillator, raised $3.4 million in seed funding. Greenbox Venture Partners led, and was joined by Rock Health, HealthTech Capital and Hippocrates VC.

Student Pop, a French mobile app to help students find part-time work, raised €3 million from Impact Partenaires and Educapital.

SalonHQ, a San Francisco-based mobile beauty commerce platform, raised $2 million in seed funding from backers like Panache Ventures.

Private Equity Deals

Apollo Global Management is the only remaining bidder for UK-based plastics maker RPC Group (LSE: RPC), after Bain Capital dropped out of the process.

  • Apollo also is in pole position to buy aluminum parts maker Arconic (NYSE: ARNC) for around $11 billion, per Bloomberg.

Arbor Investments completed its purchase of the private-label pet foods business of Mars Petcare, which will be renamed Red Collar Pet Foods.

LLR Partners formed Celero Commerce, a Nashville, Tenn.-based commerce solutions provider that will be led by Kevin Jones, founder and former CEO of Anovia Payments. Celero also will invest in merchant acquirer UMS Banking to provide it will core payment processing infrastructure.

OpenGate Capital acquired the French, Belgium and Luxembourg security products unit of Sweden’s Gunnebo, which will be renamed Fichet Security Solutions.

Orix Capital Partners acquired NTI Connect, a Chicago-based provider of network deployment solutions in fiber optics, data centers, wireless and video networks.

TIBCO Software, a Palo Alto-based portfolio company of Vista Equity Partners, agreed to buy Orchestra Networks, a French data management software company, per Reuters.

V3 Group, a Singapore-based maker of luxury lifestyle and wellness products, raised up to US$366 million from KKR at a valuation of around US$1.25 billion.

WestView Capital Partners acquired Bell and Howell, a Durham, N.C.-based provider of tech-enabled mechatronic services and solutions, from Versa Capital and Access Value Investors.

Liquidity Events

Nasdaq acquired Quandl, a Toronto-based provider of alternative and core financial data that had raised around US$20 million from firms like Nexus Venture Partners, August Capital and GrowX Ventures.

🚑 ResMed (NYSE: RMD) is buying Propeller Health, a Madison, Wisc.-based digital medicine platform focused on the management of chronic respiratory disease, for $225 million. Propeller had raised over $60 million (most recently at a $140m post-money) from firms like AptarGroup, McKesson Ventures, 3M Ventures, Hikma Ventures, SR One, Social Capital and Safeguard Scientifics.

Vector Capital completed its sale of Triton Digital, a Los Angeles-based provider of tech solutions to the audio streaming and podcast markets, to E.W. Scripps Co. (Nasdaq: SSP) for $150 million.

More M&A

Buckeridge Group of Cos, a family-owned Australian conglomerate whose holdings include construction and mining, hired Macquarie Group to find a buyer for the company, which could fetch around A$2 billion.

⛽ Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) is seeking to sell its 6.8% stake in Azerbaijan’s largest oil field, which could fetch upwards of $2 billion, per Reuters.


Permira is seeing to raise €2.5 billion for its fourth European direct lending fund, per Financial News.

TPG Capital is seeking to raise upwards of $3.5 billion for its second social impact fund (Rise Fund II), per public pension documents.

Värde Partners raised around $450 million for its first Asia credit fund.

It's Personnel

Jina Choi is stepping down as head of the SEC's San Francisco office, which she has led since 2013.

Sumanth Cidambi and Vijay Padmanabhan joined KKR as India-based directors in the firm’s credit business.

Ernst & Young named Andres Saenz as head of its global private equity practice.

Mario Toukan joined SK Capital Partners as a managing director. He previously was global head of chemicals and materials at KeyBanc Capital Markets.

Richard Yen has stepped down as a managing director with Saban Capital Group, where he had worked for 10 years.

Final Numbers: European tech VC
Source: data, via Atomico report

More from Atomico report:

  • Europe's tech workforce is growing 4% annually, compared to EU estimates of overall employment growth of just 1.1% in 2018.
  • Only 2.2% of Europe's VC funds have been committed by pensions over the past five years, although the figure jumps to 16% in the Nordics.
  • Nearly 90% of respondents to a survey said that having a diverse team benefits company performance, but Atomico found only one female CTO out of 175 working at European tech companies that raised a Series A or Series B round in the past year.
  • And, over the past five years, only 2% of funded European tech startups have had female founders (another 5% have gender-mixed founding teams).
Dan Primack