• Digging deeper: There's an old private equity joke that if you can't call your funds top-quartile, then you're just doing the math wrong. After all, lots of firms play around with credit lines and co-investments and other techniques that juice the numbers, usually for the purposes of future fundraising (or just to make themselves feel better).
Today, however, Cambridge Associates is introducing new, investment-level benchmarks that are designed to cut through a lot of that noise, and improve due diligence for LPs. Specifically, it is reporting gross-level median returns for private equity investments, and also breaking that down by industry and other factors. What that means is that there now will be sector-specific benchmarks for vertical GPs, and also for generalists when explaining their strategies.
"It's great to have a strong fund-level IRR, but how does an LP know that you actually have a good investment strategy, as opposed to just smart management of a commitment facility," asks Andrea Auerbach, head of research for Cambridge Associates. "Looking at investment-level returns is a way to pierce the fund-level 3-card monte game, in order to better understand that a manager is good at doing the job you're actually hiring them to do."
Expect CA to begin reporting gross investment-level returns for private equity on a quarterly basis, while also continuing to publish its net fund-level benchmarks. More here.
• Time talk: There's a theory floating around my old Time Inc. haunt that the publisher's two known suitors ― Meredith Corp. and a group led by Edgar Bronfman ― may team up, with Meredith carving out the lifestyle-type titles and Bronfman retaining the newsier pubs. But a source familiar with the situation says that there have been no such conversations between the two parties.
It's also worth noting that the market isn't really getting ahead of this one: Shares jumped from $13.80 after a late November report that Bronfman had bid $18 per share (which was rejected by Time Inc.'s board), but never climbed above $19.25 per share (Feb. 3). They closed trading today at $18.80 a piece ― suggesting that shareholders aren't expecting either Bronfman (nor Meredith) to go much higher than that original offer.
• Today in Theranos: Federal investigators found that the Theranos lab in Arizona "failed to ensure some patients who got potentially inaccurate diabetes test results were notified," per a federal inspection report obtained by the WSJ. In unrelated news, it's worth noting that the recent Senate confirmation of Betsy DeVos as EdSec means that one-third of President Trump's current cabinet has ties to Theranos (DeVos was an investor, DefSec James Mattis was a board director).
• New fund alert: Greycroft Partners today is expected to announce that it has raised $250 million for its second growth equity fund (first one was $200m, closed in 2014), and that it has promoted Dylan Pearce to partner. Greycroft's Dana Settle says to expect that around 60% of the fund's commitments to go toward later-stage rounds for existing Greycroft portfolio companies (after exhausting reserves from the core fund), with the remainder being for new opportunities. [Note #1: Greycroft is an investor in Axios. Note #2: I would have written about this anyway.]
• SF dispatch: Kia was at the StrictlyVC event last night in San Francisco, where venture capitalist and political advisor Bradley Tusk declined to comment on talk that he was raising a new fund (which means he's raising a new fund). Tusk also made some interesting comments about Paul Ryan's interest in "portable benefits" for gig economy workers.
• Talk Back: Blackstone boss Steve Schwarzman yesterday sent a letter to participants in his Schwarzman Scholars program, explaining why he is chairing President Trump's council of CEO advisors. Per Bloomberg:
"In life you'll often find that having influence and providing sound advice is a good thing, even if it attracts criticism or requires some sacrifice. However, I have always believed one's obligation is to work for the common good. To the extent you can help achieve this objective for other people, you have an obligation to do so even if there is a short-term cost. That's what being a leader is, and I'm proud and privileged to be in that role."
A federal judge put the formal kibosh on Anthem's (NYSE: ANTM) proposed $54 billion acquisition of rival health insurer Cigna (NYSE: CI), agreeing with U.S. regulator arguments that the merger would be anti-competitive and result in higher costs.
• Why it's the BFD: The decision wasn't unexpected, particularly after a different judge struck down the proposed Aetna/Humana merger last month. But it does mean that expected consolidation of the U.S. health insurance market's top end is on indefinite hold, with five major players remaining instead of three. It's possible that Cigna or Anthem could try to buy Humana (less overlap than the squashed deals), but the more likely short-term scenario is that the big players will turn their attention to smaller, regional targets.
• Bottom line: "This deal faced a mountain of antitrust questions, namely that competition would have been significantly reduced for people who get their insurance from large employers. It also didn't help that Anthem and Cigna didn't see eye to eye from the start and bickered behind the scenes about leadership and the direction of a merged company." ― Bob Herman
• Fuze, a Cambridge, Mass.-based cloud productivity and collaboration platform for the enterprise, has raised $104 million in new VC funding. Wellington Management led the round, and was joined by Greenspring Associates and return backers Summit Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners and G20. http://bit.ly/2lnvH9K
• CarTrade, an Indian online auto marketplace, has raised $55 million in equity funding from Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek. http://tcrn.ch/2kVvzNL
• Mojo Networks, a Mountain View, Calif.-based provider of cloud-managed WiFi services, has raised $30 million in Series E equity and debt funding. North Haven Expansion Credit, Walden Riverwood Ventures and Alpha Technologies were joined by return backers Presidio Partners, Trident Capital, and Granite Ventures. http://bit.ly/2k6nN46
• Better Mortgage, a New York-based online mortgage bank, has raised $15 million in Series B funding from Goldman Sachs, Pine Brook and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. www.better.com
• WelbeHealth, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based healthcare services company focused on medically-frail seniors, has raised $15 million in Series A funding co-led by F-Prime Capital and .406 Ventures. http://bit.ly/2lrlYem
• Xeneta, a Norway-based provider of crowdsourced price comparison solutions for ocean freight, has raised $12 million in Series B funding. Smedvig Capital led the round, and was joined by Creandum and Alliance Venture. http://tcrn.ch/2k5Uj6G
• HealthReveal, a New York-based company that "anticipates and mitigates" adverse medical events for individuals with chronic disease, has raised $10.8 million in Series A funding. GE Ventures led the round, and was joined by Greycroft Partners, Flare Capital Partners and Manatt Ventures. www.healthreveal.com
• Cuebiq, a New York-based location intelligence startup focused on consumer behaviors, has raised $3.5 million in Series A funding. Tribeca Angels led the round, and was joined by ARC Angel Fund NYC. www.cubeiq.com
• Once Upon a Farm, a San Diego-based baby food maker, has raised $3.1 million in Series A funding. Cambridge Companies SPG led the round, and was joined by Seed 2 Growth Fund and Harbinger Ventures. http://bit.ly/2lufE6K
• Capsule8, a Brooklyn-based developer of a container-aware, real-time threat protection platform, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners. http://bit.ly/2kvfcXo
• Cinemood, a Moscow-based maker of portable mini-camera projectors, has raised $2.5 million in Series A funding from IIFD Fund. http://tcrn.ch/2k3O3fG
• Tipit, an Israeli AR startup, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from Atooro Fund. http://tcrn.ch/2krDUbc
• Inbox Health, a New Haven, Conn.-based provider of patient billing and payment solutions, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding. Connecticut Innovations led the round, and was joined by such groups as Launch Capital, Enhanced Capital and I2BF Global Ventures. http://bit.ly/2lrnE7O
• Abry Partners has agreed to acquire MobileHelp, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based provider of mobile medical alert and personal health management solutions. No financial terms were disclosed. Sellers include Stonehenge Growth Equity Partners. www.mobilehelpnow.com
• AST, a Chicago-based Oracle managed services company, has raised an undisclosed amount of private equity funding from Tailwind Capital. www.astcorporation.com
• Calera Capital has acquired a majority stake in the Evans, a non-asset based provider of intermodal and other trucking services, from AEA Investors. No financial terms were disclosed. www.evansdelivery.com
• Enhesa, a provider of EHS regulatory compliance assurance content, has raised an undisclosed amount of growth equity funding from Waterland Private Equity. The company has offices in Brussels, Tokyo and Washington, D.C. www.enhessa.com
• Food Union, a Latvian dairy company, has raised €214 million in private equity funding from PAG (€161.6m) and existing backer Meridian Capital (€52.4m). Proceeds will be used to expand into China. http://bit.ly/2k7pbi1
• Gatekeeper Systems, an Indianapolis-based portfolio company of Hammond, Kennedy, Whitney & Co., has acquired Carttronics, a San Diego-based provider of shopping cart containment, loss prevention and retail analytics solutions.
• H.I.G. Capital reportedly has agreed to acquire VIP Cinema Holdings, a New Albany, Miss.-based maker of luxury movie theater seats, from MML Capital Partners for around $300 million. www.vipcinemaseating.com
• Lovell Minnick Partners has agreed to acquire Foreside Financial Group, a Portland, Maine-based provider of regulatory compliance and distribution solutions to the investment management market. No financial terms were disclosed. http://bit.ly/2kv7TPA
• Rothschild and Lazard have been hired as debt restructuring advisors by creditors to Fraikin, a French vehicle leasing firm owned by CVC Capital Partners, according to Reuters. The move comes less than a month after rival Petit Forestier canceled plans to acquire Fraikin. http://reut.rs/2kpWI8p
• Soaring Pine Capital, a unit of Simon Group Holdings, has acquired ETI Tech, a Dayton, Ohio-based provider of components for military aircraft and ground support equipment. No financial terms were disclosed. http://bit.ly/2kpyN9a
• CBS Radio has withdrawn registration for a $500 million IPO (filed in July 2016), following its recent agreement to merge with Entercom (NYSE: ETM) via a Reverse Morris Trust.
• Detsky Mir, a Russian toy retailer, raised around $355 million in what was the largest Moscow IPO since 2014. http://reut.rs/2lrVIkg
• Apax Partners and Bridgepoint have hired Rothschild and Goldman Sachs to run a dual exit process for jewelry retailer Thom Europe, according to Reuters. The company reportedly generates around €130 million in annual EBITDA. http://reut.rs/2kpWlKT
• BC Partners has sold 42% of its remaining stake (25m shares) in Swedish cable TV operator Com Hem for around €240.5 million, or €9.62 per share (60% premium on 2014 IPO price). BC Partners retain an 18.3% position in the company. http://bit.ly/2kWAOwl
• The Blackstone Group has received unsolicited takeover offers for its Australian retail mail portfolio, which is believed to be valued at around A$4 billion. http://bit.ly/2kvzHDd
Carlsberg, a Danish beer-maker, is considering the acquisition of a 20% stake in China's Tsingtao Brewery, according to Bloomberg. The deal could be valued at around $1.2 billion.
• Nokia has agreed to acquire Comptel, a listed Finnish maker of data communications solutions for mobile carriers, for approximately $370 million. http://tcrn.ch/2ln0zas
• RPC Group (LSE: RPC) has agreed to acquire Letica, a Rochester, Mich.-based maker of plastic packaging and food services products, for upwards of $640 million. http://reut.rs/2kq192T
• Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund is considering an investment in Texas-based amusement park operator Six Flags (NYSE: SIX), according to Bloomberg. http://bloom.bg/2k3RiDG
• Aqua Capital, a Brazilian private equity firm focused on food and agribusiness, has secured around $300 million in commitments so far for its second fund, according to the WSJ. http://on.wsj.com/2luobXk
• BC Partners has launched a new credit platform that will be led by Ted Goldthorpe, former CIO of Apollo Investment Management. www.bcpartners.com
• CalPERS disclosed that it sold LP stakes in 26 private equity funds (16 managers) via secondary sales in fiscal 2016, generating around $434 million in proceeds. http://bit.ly/2lulFk1
• Eaglevale Partners, the hedge fund co-founded by Chelsea Clinton's husband, Marc Mezvinsky, shut down in December, according to Bloomberg. http://bloom.bg/2lrOsFI
• Farol Asset Management, a New York-based private equity firm focused on both direct and indirect investments, is raising upwards of $225 million for its second fund, per an SEC filing.
• G Square Capital, a London-based private equity firm focused on European mid-market healthcare companies, has closed its second fund with €350 million in capital commitments. www.gsquarecapital.com
• Paine & Partners, a private equity firm focused on sustainable food chain opportunities, has changed its name to Paine Schwartz Partners. The move reflects co-founding partner Kevin Schwarz being promoted to CEO. Prior CEO Dexter Paine will remain chairman.
• Stellaris Venture Partners, an Indian venture firm formed by ex-Helion investors, has held a $50 million first close on its $100 million-targeted debut fund. http://bit.ly/2kvjm1C
• Trident Capital Cybersecurity has closed a new VC fund with $300 million in capital commitments.
• Fabiana Cid Andrade has joined placement firm First Avenue Partners as head of Latin America and the Southeastern U.S., per her LinkedIn profile. She previously was a VP in Credit Suisse's fund placement group.
• Phil Goodwin has joined Waterland Private Equity as a UK-based advisory director. He is the former head of UK activities for Montagu Private Equity who most recently founded East Africa-focused investment firm Fusion (where he will remain chairman). http://bit.ly/2kS4GdW
• Liu Wei has joined Baidu Ventures as CEO. He previously was a partner with Legend Holdings. http://bit.ly/2kvnwqf
• Tim Wise, the former head of JPMorgan Cazenove, has joined UK-based banking boutique Simon Robertson Associates. http://on.ft.com/2kq5LG5
• Frontier Capital, a Charlotte-based growth equity firm, has promoted both Seth Harward and Scott Hoch from principals to partners. www.frontiercapital.com