March 30, 2017

Top of the Morning



Solid Biosciences, a Cambridge, Mass.-based drug developer focused on Duchenne muscular dystrophy, has raised $50 million in Series C funding. RA Capital Management and Bain Capital Life Sciences co-led the round, and were joined by RTW Investments, Foresite Capital, Cormorant Asset Management and return backers Perceptive Advisors, Janus Capital Management and Biogen. The company was founded by a former J.P. Morgan banker, after his son was diagnosed with DMD.

  • Why it's the BFD: DMD is a fairly rare genetic disorder, reportedly affecting around 1 out of every 3,500 young boys in the U.S., but that hasn't slowed down the pharma interest. In addition to Solid Biosciences, there has been work by both Sarepta Therapeutics (Nasdaq: SRPT) and Marathon Pharma. If that last one sounds familiar, that's because Marathon is a PE-backed company accused of price-gouging on its DMD drug (we discussed it here). Within the past few weeks, Marathon agreed to sell the drug to PTC Therapeutics (Nasdaq: PTCT) for a reported $140 million in cash and stock.
  • Bottom line: "Gene therapy—a method of using a virus to shepherd genetic instructions into the body—has been tried for Duchenne before, though never successfully. But Solid's program is one of a new group of emerging gene therapy and gene editing programs being advanced by academic groups, startups, and larger companies." ― Ben Fidler

Venture Capital Deals

• Looker, a Santa Cruz, Calif.-based provider of business intelligence software, has raised $81.5 million in Series D funding. CapitalG led the round, and was joined by Geodesic Capital, Goldman Sachs and return backers Kleiner Perkins, Meritech Capital Partners, Redpoint Ventures and Sapphire Ventures.

• Filament, a Reno, Nev.-based provider of wireless industrial networks, has raised $15 million in new VC funding. Verizon Ventures and Bullpen Capital co-led the round, and were joined by Intel Capital, JetBlue Technology Ventures, CME Ventures, Lab IX, Backstage Capital Tappan Hill Ventures and return backers Samsung NEXT, Resonant Venture Partners and Digital Currency Group.

• MapD, a San Francisco-based developer of GPU databases, has raised $25 million in Series B funding. NEA led the round, and was joined by return backers Nvidia, Vanedge Capital and Verizon Ventures.

•, a San Francisco-based incentive program for students to earn financial aid, has raised $12 million in VC funding. Redpoint Ventures led the round, and was joined by GSV Acceleration and return backers Owl Ventures, First Round Capital and SJF Ventures.

• JoyRun, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based P2P platform for group deliveries, has raised $8.5 million in Series A funding. Floodgate led the round, and was joined by seed backers Norwest Venture Partners, Visionnaire Ventures, Morado Ventures, CrunchFund and Triplepoint Capital.

• Emoticast, a London-based provider of apps that create music-based entertainment GIFs for mobile messaging, has raised $5 million in VC funding from backers like Strangeloop Ventures (Sean Parker), Will.I.Am, Ynon Kreiz and David Guetta.

• Travelaer, a French maker of digital products to improve traveler experiences, has raised €4.3 million in new VC funding. Entrepreneur Venture led the round, and was joined by Pleiade Venture and return backers Calypso Capital and Alderville.

• Ripjar, a UK-based data analytics platform, has raised £3.75 million in new VC funding from existing backer Winston Ventures.

• Storyhunter, a New York-based talent marketplace for freelance journalists and video producers, has raised $1.3 million in new VC funding. Draper Associates led the round, and was joined by Frontier Ventures, and return backers NFX Guild, iAngels and 500 Startups. The company previously raised $2.9 million.

Private Equity Deals

Berkeley Research Group, an Emeryville, Calif.-based expert consulting firm, has raised $62.5 million in minority equity funding from Endeavour Capital.

• Bridge Growth Partners has acquired a majority equity stake in Accedian, a Canadian provider of network performance monitoring and assurance solutions, for more than US$100 million. Sellers include Summit Partners.

• Capital Dynamics has acquired the equity interests in the Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project in Nevada from First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR) for an undisclosed amount.

• The Carlyle Group and Pacific Equity Partners reportedly are the final two bidders for iNova, the Australian subsidiary of Valeant Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: VRX). Final bids are due today, with Carlyle viewed as the frontrunner in an auction that could generate more than A$1 billion.

• DCI Design Communications, a Syosset, N.Y.-based portfolio company of Peterson Partners, has acquired the assets and operations of EthoStream, a Milwaukee-based provider of high-speed Internet services to the hospitality market, from Telkonet. No financial terms were disclosed.

• KKR reportedly is prepping an offer for Australian stationary company Officeworks, although current owner Westfarmers (ASX: WES) is increasingly likely to take the business public.

• KKR is preparing to lead a takeover bid for Quintis Ltd. (ASX: QIN), owner and operator of Australian and Indian sandalwood plantations with a market cap of around A$425 million, according to Reuters.

• Rhone, a men's activewear and lifestyle brand, has raised an undisclosed amount of growth equity funding form L Catterton.

• StandardAero, a portfolio company of Veritas Capital, has agreed to acquire PAS, a provider of OEM and aftermarket aerospace and industrial gas turbine components, from KRG Capital Partners. No financial terms were disclosed.

• Synovus Financial (NYSE: SNV) is in talks to acquire the banking operation of outdoor retailer Cabela's (NYSE: CAB), which would enable Bass Pro Shops to complete its $4.5 billion takeover of the Cabela's retail business, according to the WSJ. Capital One Financial (NYSE: COF) originally had agreed to buy the Cabela's banking business, but that deal ran into regulatory resistance. Bass Pro Shops backers include Goldman Sachs and Pamplona Capital.

• Togetherwork, a Columbus, Ga.-based portfolio company of Aquiline Capital Partners, has acquired ABC Sports Camps, a Sammamish, Wash.-based provider of online registration and event management software for sports camps.

Public Offerings

• Blue Apron, a New York-based meal kit subscription service, has picked Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup as IPO bankers, according to Reuters. The company has been valued at $2 billion by venture capitalists, and reportedly generated around $750 million in 2016 revenue.

Liquidity Events

• AMC Theatres (NYSE: AMC) completed its previously-announced $929 million purchase of Nordic Cinema Group, operator of 68 theaters in Nordic countries and a 50% owner of another 50 theaters, from Bridgepoint and Swedish media group Bonnier.

• Audi has agreed to acquire Silvercar, an Austin, Texas-based airport car rental startup that had raised nearly $60 million in VC funding from firms like Velos Partners, Austin Ventures and CrunchFund. No financial terms were disclosed.

• Avista Capital Partners and Nordic Capital have cut their combined stake in British surgical products maker ConvaTec (LSE: CTEC) from 62.3% to 24.29%, via a pair of transactions that included a $1.01 billion sale of a 19.95% position to Denmark's Novo Nordisk for $1.01 billion.

More M&A

• ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) has agreed to sell its Canadian oil sands and natural gas assets to Cenovus Energy (TSX: CVE) for around $13.3 billion.

• Creat Group, a Chinese investment firm, has offered to acquire Biotest, a listed German maker of blood plasma products, for around $1.3 billion.

• Rover, a Seattle-backed dog-sitting network, has agreed to an all-stock merger with Santa Monica, Calif.-based rival DogVacay. No terms were disclosed, although a source says that Rover shareholders will own a slightly larger share in the combined company, which would have generated $150 million in 2016 bookings. Rover has raised around $90 million in VC funding from firms like Foundry Group, Menlo Ventures, TCV and Madrona Venture Group. DogVacay raised nearly $50 million from Benchmark, Science Inc., OMERS and Foundation Capital.


• LongVue Capital, a New Orleans-based lower middle-market private equity firm, has closed its third fund with $252 million in capital commitments.

• DW Healthcare Partners, a Toronto-based VC firm focused on the healthcare industry, has closed its fourth fund with US$295 million in capital commitments.

• Panasonic Corp. (Tokyo: 6752) has formed a California-based VC arm that will focus on U.S. tech startups. Its initial commitment to Panasonic Ventures is around $100 million.

• Rivendell Partners is launching as a Hong Kong-based mid-market buyout firm focused on China and Vietnam, according to Bloomberg. Principals include managing partner Alex Ying, a former managing director with The Carlyle Group and COO Carl Harris, formerly with Spire Global and Everstone Group.

• Triton Partners, a Northern Europe-focused private equity firm, is raising up to €500 million for an open-ended fund that would take minority positions in publicly-listed companies, according to Private Equity International.

It's Personnel

• Effie Epstein has joined Sound Ventures, the VC firm co-founded by Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary, as managing partner and COO. She previously led global strategy at Marsh, a unit of Marsh & McLennan (NYSE: MMC).

• Andrew Huang is stepping down as a managing director with Goldman Sachs, where he focused on China M&A, in order to join Chinese private equity firm FountainVest Partners, according to Bloomberg.

Final Numbers