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February 14, 2022

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Top of the Morning

Illustration of the hands from the Life Insurance Co. of India logo with the center flame replaced with the rupee symbol.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. IPO market is in hibernation, thanks to a combination of macro volatility and nearly a year of poor performance.

  • This is particularly true of large offerings. Just five U.S. IPOs in 2022 have raised at least $100 million, of which only one scored $1 billion. The forward-looking calendar is vacant.
  • But there is big-money IPO activity elsewhere.

Driving the news: Life Insurance Corp. of India has filed to raise the equivalent of nearly $8 billion. This would smash the Indian IPO record set last year by Paytm, which brought in around $2.5 billion.

  • Paytm has seen its shares lose over half their value since going public, so expect state-run LIC to be much more conservative on pricing.
  • Particularly given that other state-run Indian companies — including two other insurers — have mirrored the Paytm experience since their own floats.

What to watch: If it works.

  • There’s an IPO market maxim that select private companies can successfully list regardless of what’s going on around them.
  • LIC should be one of those standouts, as it’s a stable, 65 year-old insurer that’s already scaled back the amount it’s seeking to raise. Failure would cause other big pre-IPO companies around the world, and their investors, to take note.


Illustration of rocket ship with a ball and chain
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) terminated its $4.4 billion agreement to buy Aerojet Rocketdyne (NYSE: AJRD), following opposition from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

Why it's the BFD: FTC chair Lina Khan is now two-for-two in merger block attempts, following Nvidia bailing on Arm, without having to make her case in court. It's also a win for commercial space upstarts like SpaceX, as the deal was designed to help thwart upstart defense contracting competition.

History: Lockheed announced the all-cash deal in late 2020, while the FTC sued last month.

The bottom line: "The unraveling merger complicates Lockheed's efforts to develop hypersonic weapons, a critical U.S. defense imperative, after the company had planned to bring Aerojet's propulsion systems in-house. It also raises questions for Aerojet, which now faces a proxy battle as its leaders spar over the defense supplier's future." — Julie Johnsson, Bloomberg

Venture Capital Deals

Tripledot, a London-based casual mobile gaming startup, raised $116m at a $1.4b valuation. 20VC led, and was joined by Access Industries, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Eldridge Industries.

Papier, a London-based online retailer of stationary products, raised $50m. Singular led, and was joined by Lansdowne Partners, Kathaka and insiders Felix Capital and Beringea.

Stitch, a South African-embedded finance startup, raised $21m in Series A funding. Spruce House led, and was joined by PayPal Ventures, TrueLayer, Firstminute Capital, Raba Partnership, CRE VC and Village Global.

Banked, a British non-card payments startup, raised $20m in Series A funding. BofA and Edenred Capital Partners co-led, and were joined by Sidekick, 9yards and insiders Acrew Capital, Force Over Mass, Firestartr, OM2, Love Ventures and Kuvi Capital.

🚑 Gaia, a British IVF treatment financing startup, raised $20m in Series A funding. Atomico led, and was joined by insiders Kindred Capital, Seedcamp Clocktower Technology Ventures.

BUD, a Chinese 3D social network, raised $15m in Series A funding. Qiming Ventures Partners led, and was joined by Source Code Capital, GGV Capital and Sky9 Capital.

Highline, a Dallas-based payroll-linked bill payment startup, raised $4.5m in seed funding co-led by Foundation Capital and Costanoa Ventures.

Private Equity Deals

Apax Partners agreed to buy Alcumus, a British provider of supply chain and risk management software to SMBs, from Inflexion for more than £600m.

Apollo Global Management is in advanced talks to buy the POS terminal business of Worldline (Paris: WLN) for nearly $2.3b, per the WSJ.

Apollo Global Management agreed to invest $1.4b for a minority stake in Abu Dhabi real estate firm Aldar Properties PJSC.

🎲 The Blackstone Group agreed to buy Australian casino operator Crown Resorts (ASX: CWN) for A$8.9b, after nearly a year of pursuit.

🚑 The Carlyle Group agreed to buy a stake in Orsini Specialty Pharmacy, an Illinois-based rare disease pharmacy, making it around a co-equal investor with Consonance Capital, per Axios Pro Health Tech.

Exponent agreed to buy a majority stake in H&MV Engineering, an Irish provider of high voltage electrical engineering solutions.

H.I.G. Capital bought Titan Storage Solutions, a British self-storage facility operator.

SPAC Stuff

Essentium, a College Station, Texas-based provider of 3D printing for industrial additive manufacturing, mutually terminated its merger agreement with Atlantic Coastal Acquisition Corp. (Nasdaq: ACAH).

Safe Harbor, a provider of financial services to the cannabis sector, agreed to go public at an implied $327m valuation via Northern Lights Acquisition Corp. (Nasdaq: NLIT). The deal also includes Safe Harbor being purchased from Partner Colorado Credit Union.

Liquidity Events

🚑 DePuy Synthes, a medical device unit of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), acquired CrossRoads Extremity Systems, a Memphis, Tenn.-based maker of foot and ankle implants, from HealthpointCapital.

Harkness Capital Partners agreed to sell Scranton, Pa.-based Kane Logistics to ID Logistics (Paris: IDL).

More M&A

Allianz of Germany agreed to buy Greek insurer European Reliance for around €207m.

Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Spotify (NYSE: SPOT) are considering takeover bids for British podcasting firm Audioboom (LSE: BOOM), which has a £278m market cap, per Sky News.

Centerbridge Partners amassed more than a 5% stake in theme park operator Cedar Fair (NYSE: FUN), which recently received a takeover offer from SeaWorld (NYSE: SEAS), per Bloomberg.

Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) offered to buy Splunk (Nasdaq: SPLK) for more than $20b, per the WSJ.

Citigroup (NYSE: C) is in talks to sell its India retail banking unit to Axis Bank for around $2.5b, per Bloomberg.

MetLife (NYSE: MET) is seeking a buyer for its U.S. variable annuity book, which had around $58b at year-end 2021, per Reuters.

SoFi (Nasdaq: SOFI) completed its purchase of Sacramento-based community bank Golden Pacific Bancorp.

Soros Fund Management bought nearly 20m shares in EV maker Rivian (Nasdaq: RIVN), valued at around $2b, making it the company's eighth-largest outside investor.

Waldorf Production is in talks to pay more than $1b for British and Dutch North Sea oil and gas assets from ONE-Dyas, per Reuters.

Zendesk (NYSE: ZEN) has a new challenge in its efforts to buy SurveyMonkey parent Momentive (Nasdaq: MNTV), as proxy advisers ISS and Glass Lewis both came out against the deal.


Ardian is targeting $15b for its ninth PE secondaries fund, per Secondaries Investor.

It's Personnel

Grace Isford joined Lux Capital as a principal. She previously was with Canvas Ventures.

Priya Saraswati joined Percheron Capital as head of biz dev. She previously was with Vista Equity Partners.

Final Numbers

IPO performance
Source: Renaissance Capital. Data through 2/11/22.

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