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JP. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon last night became the first prominent Wall Streeter to say he won't attend next week's Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, giving cover to folks like BlackRock's Larry Fink and Blackstone's Steve Schwarzman (both of whom officially pulled out this morning).
Be smart: It's much easier to bail on a conference than it is to unwind complex and lucrative business relationships.
- Blackstone: Saudi Arabia committed up to $20 billion for a new global infrastructure fund that's targeting a total of $40 billion. Some other investors in the fund are beginning to murmur their disapproval, so we expect Blackstone to address the matter during its Thursday earnings call.
- BlackRock: Last year announced plans to open an office in Saudi Arabia (still a work in progress), and Fink expressed bullishness on "opportunity" in the Kindgom after a summer visit.
- J.P. Morgan: Picked to help manage the eventual Aramco IPO, has two operating licenses in Saudi, around 70 employees in Riyadh and has worked on sovereign bond offerings.
Bottom line: As of late Friday afternoon, all of these organizations (and others) were hoping that the Saudis would cancel or postpone the conference. It would have been a major embarrassment for the Kingdom, but could have been a wise long-term play by maintaining good relations with Western business partners.
- Now that ship has sailed, in part because of zero public pressure from the White House until a vague weekend threat via 60 Minutes by President Trump (who also tweeted this morning that he's sending Mike Pompeo to Riyadh).
- Treasury Sec. Mnuchin had reaffirmed on Friday that he'll attend the conference.
- Also, and this cannot be overemphasized: No one knows the geopolitical or economic end game here, particularly if it results in MBS loses his clear path to the throne.
👟 Sneaker stuff: Hipster sneaker maker Allbirds last week announced $50 million in new funding led by T. Rowe Price, at a unicorn valuation. We've learned a bit more, from multiple sources:
- The $50 million is primary capital, but Allbirds also raised an undisclosed amount of secondary funding — pushing the overall haul into nine-digit territory.
- The San Francisco-based company was profitable in both 2016 and 2017.
- Revenue jumped from $16 million in 2016 to around $80 million in 2017, with around $150 million estimated for this year.
🚗 ICYMI: Uber on Thursday sent a letter to federal securities regulators, asking for rules changes that would let it provide equity to drivers. Read the letter.
😔Sears is officially bankrupt. Eddie Lampert steps down as CEO, but remains chairman. His investment firm is also working to provide a $300 million DIP loan, which would come alongside another $300 million from banks.
- Mohsin Meghji, managing partner of turnaround firm M-III Partners, will be chief restructuring officer.
- 142 stores will close by year-end, with liquidation sales to begin as soon as they can get the signs printed.
- Sears, which was to 21st century retail what Amazon is now, saw its market cap fall below $40 million at the open this morning.
🎧 Pro Rata Podcast: Latest episode focuses on post-Kavanaugh politics, with the midterms just three weeks away, and I'm joined by Jim VandeHei. Listen here.
Harris Corp. (NYSE: HRS) has agreed to an all-stock merger with rival defense contractor L3 Technologies (NYSE: LLL). The deal is valued at over $15 billion, with the two companies' combined market cap at around $33.5 billion.
- Why it's the BFD: Because it would be the defense sector's largest-ever merger, without much product overlap, at a time of rising U.S. defense budgets.
- Bottom line: "Both companies have built military communications empires focused on networking and surveillance capabilities that are built into larger defense systems." — Aaron Gregg, Washington Post
Venture Capital Deals
• Linklogis, a Chinese supply chain finance company, raised $220 million in Series C funding. GIC led, and was joined by Tencent, GLP, Skyworth, China Oceanwide, Welight, Bertelsmann Asia Investments, CITIC Capital and Loyal Valley Capital. http://axios.link/33PN
• Zomato, an Indian food delivery company, raised $210 million in new funding from existing backer Ant Financial. http://axios.link/64kV
🚑 Berkeley Lights, an Emeryville, Calif.-based digital cell biology startup, raised $95 million. Nikon led, and was joined by Cota Capital, KTB Network, Atinum Investment, Shangbay Capital, AJS BioTree Healthcare Fund, Varian and return backers Walden-Riverwood Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Black Diamond Ventures, and Paxion Capital. www.berkeleylights.com
• Kepler Communications, a Canadian satellite telecom startup focused on in-space connectivity services, raised US$16 million in Series A funding. Costanoa Ventures led, and was joined by Deutsche Bahn Digital Ventures. www.kepler.space
• Ksher, a Beijing-based provider of cross-border mobile payment services, raised $10 million in Series A funding from Sequoia Capital China. http://axios.link/yRCG
• Penta, a German provider of digital bank accounts for SMEs, raised €7 million in Series A funding from Inception Capital. http://axios.link/ihre
🚑 Deep Lens, a Columbus, Ohio-based digital pathology startup, raised $3.2 million in seed funding from Sierra Ventures, Rev1 Ventures and Tamarind-Hill Fund. http://axios.link/8gwX
Private Equity Deals
• Auxo Investment Partners acquired Prestige Stamping, a Warren, Mich.-based manufacturer of custom engineered stampings for the fastener industry. www.prestigestamping.com
• The Blackstone Group has been given four days to match a rival bid for Australian office owner Investa Office Fund (ASX: IOF) from Canada’s Oxford Properties Group, for which Blackstone last bid A$3.35 billion. Oxford’s offer was A$0.10 per share higher. http://axios.link/14Fj
• The Carlyle Group agreed to buy Apollo Aviation Group, a Miami, Fla.-based commercial aviation investment and servicing firm with $5.6 billion in AUM. www.apollo.aero
The Carlyle Group invested in Chinese clinical labs operator Adicon. http://axios.link/X6Fs
• EagleTree Capital acquired Gaylord Chemical Co., a Slidell, La.-based maker of dimethyl sulfide and dimethyl sulfoxide. www.gaylordchemical.com
• Hearthside, a Downers Grove, Ill.-based portfolio company of Charlesbank Capital Partners and Partners Group, is paying over $1 billion to buy Greencore USA, a Danvers, Mass.-based frozen contract packaging company that also makes refrigerated sandwiches, entrees and salad kits. http://axios.link/P9VU
⛽ GreenYellow, a French energy supply services company owned by Casino Group (Paris: CO), raised €150 million from Tikehau Capital and Bpifrance. http://axios.link/Fl55
• Mi9, a Miami, Fla.-based retail tech company backed by General Atlantic, agreed to buy MyWebGrocer, a Winooski, Vt.-based grocery e-commerce company. MyWebGrocer shareholders HGGC and Respida Capital will have stakes in the combined business. www.mi9retail.com
• Spectrum Equity invested $75 million for a majority recap of AllTrails, a San Francisco-based digital guide to the outdoors. http://axios.link/DwLT
🚑 TPG Capital is circling Monash IVF (ASX: MVF), an Australian reproductive health services company with a market cap just south of A$225 million, per The Australian. www.monashivfgroup.com.au
• Eight companies plan to go public this week on U.S. exchanges, targeting a combined raise of $1.6 billion: Graf Industrial, LogicBio, Niu Technologies, PhaseBio Pharmaceuticals, Riley Exploration Permian, SI-Bone, SolarWinds, Studio City and Valtech. http://axios.link/696Y
• Anaplan, a San Francisco-based provider of business planning and performance management software, raised $264 million in its IPO. It priced 15.5 million shares at $17 (above range), and closed its first day of trading on the NYSE (PLAN) at $24.30 per share. The company reports $47 million of net loss on $109 million in revenue for the first half of 2018, and raised around $300 million in VC funding from firms like Shasta Ventures (12.8% stake), Granite Ventures (12.1%), Meritech Capital (7.6%) and Premji Invest (7.4%). www.anaplan.com
🚑 Equillium, a La Jolla, Calif.-based developer of therapies for autoimmune disorders, raised $65 million in its IPO. The company priced 4.7 million shares at $14 (low end of range), and finished its first day of trading flat on the Nasdaq (EQ) at per share. Jefferies was lead underwriter, while shareholders include Biocon (18.8% pre-IPO stake). www.equillium.com
• YETI Holdings Inc., an Austin, Texas-based maker of branded coolers that is owned by Cortec Group, set IPO terms for 20 million shares at $19-$21. It would have an initial market cap of $1.67 billion, were it to price in the middle, and plans to trade on the NYSE (YETI) with BofA Merrill Lynch as lead underwriter.
🚑 Adynxx, a San Francisco-based, agreed to go public via a reverse merger with rival non-opioid pain treatment company Alliqua BioMedical (Nasdaq: ALQA). Adynxx shareholders, including TPG Biotech and Domain Associates, will be majority holders of the combined company. http://axios.link/pz5I
• Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) has acquired Asaii, a San Francisco-based music analytics engine for music labels and artist managers, per Axios. http://axios.link/jzMj
• ETI Mission Controls, a unit of Simon Group Holdings, acquired Starwin Industries, a Kettering, Ohio-based provider of components and assemblies for military aircraft and naval vessels. www.etitechinc.com
• Walmart (NYSE: WMT) bought Edison, N.J.-based online lingerie retailer Bare Necessities. http://axios.link/4cnF
• Bill Aliber (ex-CFO of CFO of Ascend Learning) and Brian Shin (In-Q-Tel) have joined Providence Strategic Growth Capital Partners as managing directors. www.provequity.com
⛽ Jérôme Brassart is joining Perella Weinberg Partners as a London-based managing director. He previously was a managing director with Credit Suisse, in its power, utilities and infrastructure group. www.pwppartners.com
• Andrew Dowler is stepping down as The Blackstone Group’s head of public affairs in Europe, per PE News. http://axios.link/qgY4
- Go deeper: One way corporate income is falling