Sep 5, 2017

Axios Pro Rata

By Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Top of the Morning

Gurbaksh Chahal, the charming tech entrepreneur best known for admitting to domestic abuse, may have blocked me on Twitter, but his antics refuse to leave my timeline.

The latest is a $100 million crypto offering called Lydian Coin, which is being endorsed by none other than Paris Hilton, fresh off her return from Burning Man. Four notes on this thing:

  1. Top line: Lydian Coin is being offered by via Gravity4, the digital marketing company Chahal launched after being booted from RadiumOne. Per its white paper: "100% of the proceeds raised by the sale of Lydian tokens will be held by LydianCoin Pte. (in fiat currency or cryptocurrency, as financial, security, and other considerations may demand) as reserves against the cost of services to be performed for Lydian token holders upon negotiation of the token back to Lydian."
  2. What does that mean? Like many things with Chahal, this is a lot of sound signifying fairly little. In short, it appears that token buyers will (indirectly) purchase technologies and services from Gravity4 — something they could simply do with old-fashioned cash. The only apparent advantage for buyers is that they'll get advance access to "crypto-specific audience targeting" products that Gravity4 is supposedly creating although, if the tech is really effective, it's hard to imagine the company will refuse more traditional customers.
  3. But another way: Chahal knows Gravity4 has little chance of ever going public due to his personal history, so he's leveraging the ICO craze to bolster its balance sheet. And somehow Paris Hilton is on board, because of course she is.
  4. False advertising: HuffingtonPost, where Chahal regularly publishes, is hosting a Lydian-promoting press release that masquerades as a blog post. It notes that TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington "will be personally investing in the token sale," although Arrington told me last night that he has made no such decision.

• Less is more: Marc Lore, the Walmart e-commerce boss who previously co-founded by Jet.com and Diapers.com, takes to LinkedIn with his startup funding epiphany:

"After raising close to $1 billion in capital over 10 rounds of venture financing, I've come to realize that raising money at a high valuation is usually NOT the right decision. It's short-sighted and risky. Instead, you're far better off thinking about raising capital as a series of financing rounds. And when looking through that lens, you'll see that a high valuation in one round decreases the probability of getting funded in the next one. And it's those subsequent rounds that are essential for a business to have long-term success and health."

• Off the hook: The Carlyle Group has been exonerated by the Royal Court of Guernsey, over allegations that it was either negligent or had grossly mismanaged a mortgage-backed securities fund that collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis. The case had been brought by liquidators of Carlyle Capital Corp., who may still appeal the court's decision.

• Big bio return: Teleflex (NYSE: TFX) this morning announced that it will acquire NeoTract, a Pleasanton, Calif.-based developer of a minimally-invasive treatment for men suffering from enlarged prostate. The deal is valued at upwards of $1.1 billion, including a $725 million upfront cash payment. NeoTract had raised just under $60 million in total VC funding, most recently at a valuation of around $300 million. A source close to the deal says that this is the result of a dual process by NeoTract, which had confidentially filed for an IPO.

• Table topper: United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) this morning confirmed that it will buy rival aerospace supplies company Rockwell Collins (NYSE: COL) for around $30 billion in cash and stock. It is the year's largest announced merger, per S&P Global Market Intelligence, and could spark up a major battle between plane manufacturers and parts suppliers.

The BFD

Rovio, the Finnish mobile games company responsible for the Angry Birds franchise, said today that it is planning an IPO in Helsinki. The float is expected to include around €30 million worth of stock sold by Rovio, while the remainder would come from outside shareholders like majority backer Kaj Hed. There had been a report earlier this summer that Tencent was considering a $3 billion takeover of Rovio, although CEO Kati Levoranta tells the FT that there is no dual process.

  • Why it's the BFD: Rovio has been the subject of IPO rumors for years, but this is the first time that the company itself has announced plans.
  • VC history: Rovio raised a $42 million Series A round in 2011 co-led by Accel and Atomico.
  • Bottom line: There are still giant longevity questions about Rovio, which really does still remain a one-hit wonder (albeit a hit that was translated from mobile game to big-screen box office smash). If it can go public, then don't be surprised to see the company use its new public currency to snap up smaller rivals within the fragmented mobile gaming market.
Venture Capital Deals

• Via, an Israel-based carpooling service, has raised $250 million in new VC funding led by Daimler's Mercedes Benz unit, according to TechCrunch. The company previously raised nearly $140 million from firms like Pitango, 83North, C4 Ventures, Ervington Investments, Expansion Venture Capital, Hearst Ventures, Kapor Capital, LPlanven, Poalim and RiverPark. http://tcrn.ch/2xJt8BV

• Lilium, a German developer of electric "flying taxis," has raised $90 million in Series B funding from Tencent, Atomico, LGT and Obvious Ventures. http://axios.link/82wA

• ForgeRock, a Norway-based provider of identity management tools for the enterprise, has raised $88 million in new funding. Accel led the round, and was joined by KKR and return backers Meritech Capital Partners and Foundation Capital. http://axios.link/YgO4

🚑 Entasis Therapeutics, a Waltham, Mass.-based developer of anti-infective products, has raised $31.9 million in Series B-1 funding from Pivotal bioVenture Partners, Sofinnova Ventures and TPG Biotech. The company previously closed a $50 million first tranche of Series B funding from Clarus Capital, Frazier Healthcare Partners, Novo and Eventide Funds. www.entasistx.com

🚑 SinoVision Technologies, a Chinese developer of CT scanners, has raised around $29 million in new VC funding from HG Capital, Qiming Ventures and Yili Fuyi Daohe. http://axios.link/mJES

• Habito, a London-based online end-to-end mortgage platform, has raised £18.5 million in Series B funding. Atomico led the round, and was joined by return backers Ribbit Capital, Mosaic Ventures and Revolutionary (Ad)Ventures. http://tcrn.ch/2iSOHMJ

• Kr Space, a Chinese co-working space startup, has raised over $15 million in new VC funding from return backer IDG Capital. http://axios.link/2AuA

• Xingbianli, a Chinese checkout-free convenience store operator, has raised around $14 million in VC funding. Lightspeed China Partners led the round, and was joined by Zhang Tao (founder of Meituan) and Wang Xing (founder of Renren). http://axios.link/38Ac

• Yi+, a Chinese developer of AI-enabled content marketing solutions, has raised around $14 million in Series B funding from Haitong Securities, Bairongjun Group and The Bank of Beijing. http://axios.link/miih

• Apica, a Swedish provider of software app testing and monitoring solutions, has raised $12 million in new VC funding. Oxx led the round, and was joined by return backers Industrifonden, SEB Venture Capital and KTH Chalmers Capital. www.apicasystems.com

• LookBookHQ, a Toronto-based content marketing platform, has raised US$11 million in Series B funding led by Edison Partners. www.lookbookhq.com

• Coya, a German digital insurance startup, has raised $10 million in seed funding. Valar Ventures led the round, and was joined by e.ventures and La Famiglia. http://read.bi/2xK1952

• Prowler.io, a UK-based decision-making platform, has raised £10 million in new VC funding. Cambridge Innovation Capital led the round, and was joined by Atlantic Bridge Capital and return backers Passion Capital, Amadeus Capital Partners and SG Innovate. http://tcrn.ch/2eELVcJ

🚑 Teckro, an Ireland-based machine learning startup focused on improving the speed and accuracy of clinical trials, has raised €8.3 million in Series B funding. Sands Capital Ventures led the round, and was joined by Section 23 and return backer Founders Fund. http://axios.link/0KLE

• Aifloo, a Swedish maker of a smart wristband for the elderly, has raised €5.1 million in Series A funding led by EQT Partners. http://tcrn.ch/2eXWKDJ

• Classcraft, a New York-based classroom gamification startup, has raised $2.8 million in VC funding. WhiteCap Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by Brightspark Ventures, MaRS Catalyst Fund and Virgin Unite. www.classcraft.com

• Pillar Technologies, a New York-based provider of construction site risk management software, has raised $2.75 million in seed funding from XL Innovate, Hyperplane VC and Techstars Ventures. http://tcrn.ch/2eExFRo

• GetAccept, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based e-signature and document tracking platform, has raised $1.6 million in seed funding from Amino Capital and Y Combinator. http://tcrn.ch/2exYK4N

Private Equity Deals

🚑 Argentum Medical, a Chicago-based portfolio company of Shore Capital Partners, has acquired the TheraBond family of burn care and wound care products from Alliqua BioMedical (Nasdaq: ALQA) for $3.8 million. www.silverlon.com

🚑 The Carlyle Group has acquired a majority stake in Thomas Scientific, a Swedesboro, N.J.-based provider of scientific research lab supplies and equipment. No financial terms were disclosed. www.thomassci.com

🍺 Cerberus Capital Management has agreed to sell British pub chain Admirals Taverns to a group that includes C&C Group (owner of Magners cider), Propium Capital Partners and Admiral Taverns Management. The deal is valued at around £220 million. http://axios.link/LXOh

🚑 Levine Leichtman Capital Partners has acquired Therapeutic Research Center, a Stockton, Calif.-based provider of medication learning solutions for healthcare professionals, from Francisco Partners. No financial terms were disclosed. www.trchealthcare.com

• ProAmpac, a Cincinnati-based portfolio company of Pritzker Group Private Capital, has acquired PolyFirst Packaging, a Hartford, Wis.-based packaging company focused on printed and customized roll stock. No financial terms were disclosed. www.proampac.com

🚑 Therapure Biopharma, a Canadian biopharma company backed by Catalyst Capital Group, has agreed to sell its contract development and manufacturing business and certain rights to its plasma products for the Chinese market to a joint venture between 3SBio (HK: 1530) and CITIC Private Equity. The deal is valued at $290 million. http://reut.rs/2eEhLX2

🚑 TPG Capital has acquired a majority stake in OPC Holding Co., a Taiwan-based provider of clinical trial services. No financial terms were disclosed. http://axios.link/fHOZ

IPOs

• Charter Court Financial Services, a British online mortgage bank majority owned by Elliott Management, is prepping a London IPO that reportedly could value the company north of £500 million. http://reut.rs/2vHfdPl

🚑 NuCana, a UK-based developer of cancer therapeutics, has filed for a $115 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol NCNA, with Citigroup listed as left lead underwriter. Shareholders in the pre-revenue company include Sofinnova Capital (32.39% pre-IPO stake), Sofinnova Ventures (16.54%), Morningside Ventures (12.04%) and Scottish Enterprise (9.29%). www.nucanabiomed.com

• Pirelli, the Italian tire-maker bought two years ago by ChemChina, is preparing to float up to 40% of its shares in Milan this October. The IPO could value Pirelli at around €8.7 billion. http://reut.rs/2vZSQQb

• Roku, a Los Gatos, Calif.-based over-the-top (OTT) streaming player service, has filed for a $100 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol ROKU, with Morgan Stanley listed as left lead underwriter. It reports a $24.2 million net loss on nearly $200 million in revenue for the first half of 2017. The company has raised over $200 million in VC funding, from firms like Menlo Ventures (35.3% pre-IPO stake), Fidelity (12.9%), 21st Century Fox (7%), Globespan Capital Partners (6.1%) and Netflix. http://axios.link/E0k5

Liquidity Events

• American Securities has agreed to sell South Bend, Ind.-based Royal Adhesives & Sealants to H.B. Fuller Co. (NYSE: FUL) for $1.575 billion. http://reut.rs/2vHzBjb

• The Blackstone Group has cancelled the auction for its A$3.5 billion Australian shopping mall portfolio, having received no bids for the entire business. Reuters reports that concerns over Amazon played a role in spooking potential suitors. http://reut.rs/2iZ6TEJ

More M&A

• Aon PLC (NYSE: AON) has agreed to acquire The Townsend Group, a Cleveland-based provider of global investment management and advisory services primarily focused on real estate, from Colony NorthStar (NYSE: CLNS) for $475 million. http://axios.link/ifKN

• Aveva (LSE: AVV), a British engineering software company, has agreed to merge with the software arm of Schneider Electric (Paris: SU), in a deal valued at around £3 billion. http://axios.link/FJI5

⛽ Cenovus Energy (TSX: CVE) has agreed to sell its Pelican Lake heavy oil operations in Alberta, Canada for C$975 million to Canadian Natural Resources (TSX: CNQ). https://tgam.ca/2gBusyJ

🚑 Merck KGaA of Germany is considering the sale of its consumer health unit, which could be valued at around $1 billion, according to Reuters. http://reut.rs/2x74hef

• Tronc (Nasdaq: TRNC) has acquired the New York Daily News from Mort Zuckerman for an undisclosed amount. http://reut.rs/2gJg0IZ

• Volkswagen has suspended its sale process for Italian motorcycle maker Ducati, "after resistance from German trade unions and internal rifts on strategy," according to Reuters. A deal was expected to be worth around €1.5 billion. http://reut.rs/2gIrpZq

Fundraising

🚑 Eight Roads Ventures has raised $250 million for a new fund focused on Chinese healthcare companies. http://axios.link/HNDb

• IDFC Alternatives, an Indian mid-market buyout firm, has decreased the target size of its fourth fund from $400 million to $200 million, according to Private Equity International. Part of the cut was based on local currency depreciation. http://axios.link/fuLL

• StageOne Ventures, an Israel-focused VC firm, has closed its third fund with $110 million in capital commitments. www.stageonevc.com

It's Personnel

• General Atlantic has named Aaron Goldman as head of financial services and software for the EMEA region. He has been with the firm since 2007, but will relocate from New York to London. www.generalatlantic.com

• Greg Lau has joined Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe as a general partner and member of its investor relations team. He previously led fundraising and IR for FFL Partners. www.wcas.com

Dan Primack