Jan 23, 2017

Axios Pro Rata

By Dan Primack
Dan Primack

Greetings from the home office, where it's good to be back after a week in D.C. and New York (neither of which, I'm told, still has an NFL team in contention). A bunch of notes to kick off the week...

Top of the Morning

• Ch-ch-ch-changes: For decades, private equity tax math has been fairly constant. But now it might be in for a massive shakeup. Not just an expected change of carried interest treatment from capital gains to ordinary income, but also a House proposal to eliminate the deductibility of interest (a top driver of leveraged buyout returns).

Paul Ryan is telling private equity bigs that those sticks come with carrots like full expensing of capital expenditures and overall corporate rate cuts (plus top earner cuts on the individual side, which would soften the carried interest blow). So my question for you, dear readers: Assuming a status quo macro economy, do these trade-offs benefit private equity returns, hurt them or not matter? Will they reduce the use of things like dividend recaps, or do they open up new avenues for lucrative financial engineering? To share your thoughts, just hit reply to this email...

• Revelation: iPad point-of-sale company Revel Systems appears to have agreed to a new investment from existing shareholder Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe, per an FTC filing. It is unclear if this is a majority share purchase, as Revel Systems is keeping mum.

The disclosure comes nearly seven months after a Bloomberg report that IBM was in talks to buy Revel, which was valued at around $500 million as of its last round of funding in late 2015. Overall, the company has raised more than $130 million, from firms like Welsh Carson, DCM and Intuit. It also recently signed a deal to put its system across Shell's network of 47,000 retail locations.

Related: Revel's board rep from Welsh Carson has been Sanjay Swani, but he just left the firm after 17 years to "to pursue more entrepreneurial career options." No word yet on what those options may be, nor if he remains on the Revel board (more "no comment" from Revel).

• Man in the middle: Josh Kushner, the serial entrepreneur and head of VC firm Thrive Capital, is the embodiment of conflict. On the one hand, he's a regular supporter of Democratic candidates who voted for Hillary Clinton. On the other, his brother Jared (a.k.a. Mr. Ivanka) has emerged as one of President Trump's most influential advisors. So more than a few people took note when he was spotted at the Washington, D.C. Women's March on Saturday.

Sources close to Kushner says that he was in D.C. supporting his brother, who officially started work at the White House yesterday, and that he was taking a walk near his hotel when the photo was taken. He also wanted to observe what the source referred to as "a peaceful form of self expression."

• Where you go? Today's VC deals section includes a $6.85 million infusion for digital wire transfer company Dwolla, but there is no mention of existing backer Andreessen Horowitz, which had led a Series C round in 2013. Sources tell me that the Series C round was tranched-out, with the second piece contingent on Dwolla moving its exec team from Iowa to San Francisco (which it did). Subsequently, however, the team decided to return home, leaving just a few junior staffers in the Bay Area. That's apparently one big reason why A16Z bailed, along with the fact that the firm's deal lead (Scott Weiss) stepped back last January.

• Trumpland: Mike Allen reports that Trump advisor Anthony Scaramucci (who just sold hedge fund SkyBridge to China's HNA Group -- today will be meeting with Blackstone Group execs "to hear their views on tax and regulatory policy, foreign affairs and more." Private equity is fast becoming to Trump what venture capitalists were to Obama.

• Net neutral: Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), new head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, talked with Axios about tech issues on the agenda for 2017. Most notable: The expected death of net neutrality may have been exaggerated, although clearly some change is coming.

• Keep in touch: If you want to provide feedback, share news or drop a dime, there are a plethora of ways. Email (dan@axios.com), text (857-472-3072), Confide, Telegram, WhatsApp, Signal, Twitter DM (@danprimack) and our anonymous tip line at http://axios.com/tips.

The BFD: Invitation Homes hits the road (show)

Invitation Homes, a Dallas-based residential REIT backed by The Blackstone Group, has set its proposed IPO terms to 77 million shares being offered at between $18 and $21 per share. That means it would raise $1.5 billion at an initial market cap of around $5.89 billion, were it to price in the middle of its range. The company plans to trade on the NYSE under ticker symbol INVH, with Deutsche Bank serving as left-lead underwriter.

• Why it's the BFD: This is expected to be the first mega-IPO of 2017 (with all apologies to AppyDynamics, which is scheduled to price this Wednesday night), setting the stage for Snap in March. It's also a moment of truth for Blackstone's post-crisis bet on the U.S. housing market ― having scooped up nearly 50,000 single-family properties beginning in 2012. The big question is how investors will react, given some sentiments that we're either at or past the rebound peak.

• Bottom line: "We realized in studying the sector that there were already 13 million homes in the United States that were being rented out, but just done so on a mom-and-pop basis. And so could you build a scale institutional single-family business much like what happened in the multifamily business in the 1990s." -- Blackstone real estate boss Jonathan Gray.

Venture Capital Deals

• Miss Fresh, a Beijing-based mobile app for buying fresh produce, has raised $100 million in Series C funding. Lenovo led the round, and was joined by Tencent, KTB, Grand Flight Investment and China Growth Capital. http://bit.ly/2jn96p0

• Adarza BioSystems, a maker of biosensor assays and instruments for the life sciences research, drug development and in vitro diagnostics markets, has raised $17 million in Series C funding led by 3×5 RiverVest Fund. The company has offices in St. Louis and Rochester, N.Y. http://bit.ly/2jIujus

• LMRKTS, a New York-based FX swaps startup, has raised $7 million in VC funding from Motive Partners and former Morgan Stanley execs Michael Heaney and Steven Daffron. http://on.ft.com/2jonFsB

• Dwolla, a Des Moines, Iowa-based digital wire transfer service, has raised $6.85 million in new VC funding. Return backer Union Square Ventures and new investor Foundry Group co-led the round, and were joined by Detroit Venture Partners, High Alpha, Ludlow Ventures and Next Level Ventures. http://tcrn.ch/2j2QsVP

• Faradion, a British developer of low-cost battery materials, has raised £3.2 million in Series B funding. Mercia Technologies was joined by return bacers Finance Yorkshire Seedcorn Fund and Haldor Topsoe. http://bit.ly/2jPOEQL

• Pitchero, a British provider of online community development services for amateur sports, has raised £3.1 million in Series A funding led by ICM. http://tcrn.ch/2kiTjrw

• Shoptalk, a New York-based organizer of events for the retail and ecommerce markets, has raised $2 million in new VC funding. Primary Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by Commerce Ventures and individual investors. www.shoptalk.com

• The Core Institute, a Phoenix-based provider of orthopedic and neurosciences care, has raised an undisclosed amount of equity funding from Frazier Healthcare Partners and Princeton Ventures. www.thecoreinstitute.com

• Mobike, a Chinese bike-sharing service, has secured an undisclosed amount of strategic funding from Foxconn. This is in addition to the $215 million Series D round the company announced last month, which was led by Tencent. http://tcrn.ch/2kjkrue

• Wydr, an India-based mobile wholesale marketplace, has raised an undisclosed amount of second-round funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, Stellaris Venture Partners, Jungle Venture Partners and Axis Capital. http://bit.ly/2jgRttk

Private Equity Deals

Arcom, a Salt Lake City-based portfolio company of Alpine Investors, has acquired InterSpec, a South Portland, Maine-based provider of BIM-to-specifications software. No financial terms were disclosed. www.arcomnet.com

• BHR, a Chinese private equity firm, is working with China Molybdenum Co. (HK: 3993) to acquire a 24% stake in a Congo copper mine called Tenke for $1.14 billion. http://reut.rs/2kgBmcX

• Francisco Partners has sold Source Photonics, a West Hills, Calif.-based provider of Source Photonics, to a private equity consortium that includes Redview Capital, Asia-IO, TR Capital, Axiom Asia and Aberdeen Asset Management. No financial terms were disclosed. www.sourcephotonics.com

• Funko, an Everett, Wash.-based toys company backed by Acon Investments, has agreed to acquire substantially all of the assets of Underground Toys Ltd., a London-based maker and distributor of licensed products for such brands as Star Wars and DC Comics. No financial terms were disclosed. www.funko.com

• Grupo Espaçolaser, a Brazil-based laser hair removal company, has secured an undisclosed amount of growth equity funding from L Catterton.

• Partners Group and PSP Investments have agreed to acquire Cerba HealthCare, a France-based provider of medical lab services, from PAI Partners. The deal is valued at around €2 billion, according to the FT. http://on.ft.com/2ki7bX0

• Safe Harbor Marinas, a marina owner and operator formed in 2015 by American Infrastructure Funds, has acquired Brewer Yacht Yard Group, operator of 25 marinas on the East Coast. No financial terms were disclosed. In related news, Safe Harbor has secured an undisclosed amount of new private equity funding from Guggenheim Partners and Weatherford Partners. www.shmarinas.com

• Tricentis, a Vienna, Va.-based automated testing startup, has raised $165 million in new equity funding from Insight Venture Partners. Existing backers include ViewPoint Capital Partners and Harbert Management. http://tcrn.ch/2j5bS1e

Public Offerings

• Eight companies are expected to price IPOs on U.S. exchanges this week: Jagged Edge Energy, JELD-WEN, REV Group, AppDynamics, ObsEva, Jounce Therapeutics, AnaptusBio and Visterra. http://bit.ly/2jJ1cr2

Liquidity Events

• AMC Theatres (NYSE: AMC) has agreed to acquire Nordic Cinema Group, operator of 68 theaters in Nordic countries and a 50% owner of another 50 theaters, for approximately $929 million. Sellers include private equity firm Bridgepoint and Swedish media group Bonnier. http://bit.ly/2j5fbFv

• Warburg Pincus has hired Goldman Sachs to find a buyer for Safetykleen Europe, a UK-based provider of oil collection, recycling and other waste management solutions, according to Reuters. The deal could be worth around 640 million, compared to the 565 million that Warburg paid to acquire Safetykleen back in 2008. http://reut.rs/2kjgPbH

More M&A

• Cargill reportedly has agreed to sell its gas and power trading group to commodities firm TrailStone Group. http://reut.rs/2jGXhuU

• Ginkgo Bioworks, a Boston-based designer and developer of microorganisms for such purposes as flavoring, has acquired Gen9, a Cambridge, Mass.-based provider of synthetic DNA, for an undisclosed amount. Ginko Bioworks has raised over $150 million in VC funding from firms like Y Combinator's Continuity Fund, Senator Investment Group, Data Collective, Felicis Ventures, Cascade Investment, Viking Global Investors, Allen & Co. and Bailie Gifford. Gen9 had raised over $50 million from firms like DFJ and The Kraft Group. http://bit.ly/2keKMK9

• Precision Castparts Corp., a unit of Berkshire Hathaway, has agreed to acquire Wilhelm Schulz, a German maker of piping components. No financial terms were disclosed, although Wilhem Schulz reportedly generated 172 million in 2014 revenue. http://bit.ly/2jhfcd1

• Sprint has agreed to acquire a 33% stake in music-streaming service Tidal, and also make the service available to its mobile users. No financial terms were disclosed. Tidal has been majority-owned since 2015 by an investment group led by rapper Jay-Z. http://tcrn.ch/2jhjAsD

Fundraising

• Abu Dhabi has completed the previously-announced merger of sovereign wealth funds International Petroleum Investment Co. and Mubadala Development Co.. The combined investment group has assets of approximately $125 billion. http://reut.rs/2j4CwaB

• Angeles Equity Partners has closed its debut fund with $360 million in capital commitments. The private equity firm is led by Gores Group vets Timothy Meyer and Jordan Katz. www.angelesequity.com

• EQT Partners is raising upwards of $800 million for its third Asia-focused private equity fund, according to Dow Jones. www.eqt.se

• Northlane Capital Partners has been formed as a spinout from American Capital, in connection with American Capital's acquisition earlier this year by Ares Capital. Northlane will continue to manage American Capital Equity III, a $1 billion private equity fund that will be renamed Norghlane Capital Partners I. www.northlanecapital.com

• Tokio Marine Capital has held a second close on around $363 million for its fifth Japan-focused mid-market buyout fund, which is targeting a total of $500 million. http://bit.ly/2jozO0o

It's Personnel

• Accel has promoted London-based Luciana Lixandru to partner. http://tcrn.ch/2jvAQc2

• Adam Fless has joined Paine & Partners as a managing director of portfolio performance. He previously was with KKR Capstone. www.painepartners.com

• Sohail Lalani has joined PSP Investments as a senior director of private equity investments in the Americas. He previously was with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. In related news, Mark Giuliani has left PSP after a seven-year run. No word yet on his future plans. http://bit.ly/2iV5MFw

• George Osborne, the UK's former chancellor of the exchequer, has agreed to join BlackRock as a part-time advisor. He will remain an MP. http://nyti.ms/2j4QxoN

Final Numbers: Women in Venture Capital
Dan Primack