Aug 28, 2017

Axios Pro Rata

By Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Top of the Morning

• Harvey's hell: For those in Houston and other affected areas, the best of wishes and sincerest of prayers. For everyone else: Please find a way to help, even if it just means donating $10 to the American Red Cross by texting HARVEY to 90999.

  • Energy biz angle from Axios' Ben Geman: "The storm is closing down refineries, some crude oil production offshore in the Gulf of Mexico and onshore in the Eagle Ford shale region, pipelines, shipping, and other infrastructure networks... The disruption will send prices upward nationwide, and gasoline futures are already trading higher."
  • More numbers: 16% of U.S. refining capacity has been taken offline, mostly as preventative measures. Nearly 22% of Gulf of Mexico oil production has been halted.
  • Deal prognosis: We often see a spike in reinsurance M&A in the aftermath of such disasters — tied to anticipated premium increases — and there is little reason to believe this time will be any different.

• As Uber Turns: The ride-hail company last night picked Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi as its new boss, in what I narcissistically assume was an effort to destroy my final vacation hours. He was the dark horse candidate that none of us journos had been able to ferret out, likely because he wasn't the most favored candidate of either Travis Kalanick (who wanted Jeff Immelt) or Benchmark Capital (which wanted Meg Whitman). Immelt formally withdrew from consideration yesterday morning — read: face-saving move after learning he didn't have the votes — while Whitman had to some extent reentered the ring despite her own prior withdrawal.

  • Who? Kia has a backgrounder on Khosrowshahi, who has been CEO of Expedia since it spun out of IAC/Interactive Corp 12 years ago.
  • To do list: One of Khosrowshahi's first jobs will be to restock Uber's depleted executive ranks, which currently don't include a CFO, COO, president or global ops head. The company also needs to name an independent board chair, per the Holder report (expect that to be a woman, after picking a man for CEO).
  • ICYMI: Here are Uber's second quarter financials.
  • Pros and cons: Khosrowshahi has plenty of experience running a public company (which Uber hopes to be), and also in negotiating complex M&A transactions. Big questions revolve around his knowledge of Uber's actual tech stack and his vision for the company's role in autonomous driving. As for how this will impact the Benchmark vs. Kalanick situation... I have no idea. Worth noting that Expedia was founded and originally led by Rich Barton, who has been a venture partner with Benchmark since 2005.

• PE killer, qu'est-ce que c'est: President Trump this week is expected to barnstorm for a tax plan that doesn't yet exist, but several recent reports suggests that the White House and GOP leaders are leaning toward eliminating the deductibility of interest. Not just cutting a percentage of it like the Obama Administration once floated, but the entire thing. If such a thing were to become law, it could undermine the entire leveraged buyout model (no matter how much corporate rates are cut). Particularly if there is no grandfathering for existing loans. On the other hand, there is still widespread skepticism in D.C. that a comprehensive plan is going to get done this year.


Gilead Sciences (Nasdaq: GILD) has agreed to acquire Kite Pharma (Nasdaq: KITE), a Santa Monica, Calif.-based cancer immunotherapy company. The deal is valued at $11 billion in cash, or $180 per share (29% premium over Friday's closing price). Kite Pharma's largest outside shareholder is Capital Research & Management, with nearly a 19% stake.

  • Why it's the BFD: This is a remarkable reversal of fortune for Kite, which earlier this year was a favorite for short-sellers. Shorts represented 17.6% of Kite's float as of May 31, although that figure was down to (a still substantial) 14.1% on August 15. They basically were betting against Kite receiving regulatory approval for its lead candidate, with a decision expected by November. But now Gilead has preempted the FDA and squeezed the remaining shorts like a tube of toothpaste.
  • Bottom line: "Gilead gained its two blockbuster hepatitis C drugs through the 2011 purchase of Pharmasset, but investors have been clamoring for Gilead to use its mountains of cash to add another potentially game-changing drug to its portfolio. The acquisition of Kite, which makes a novel therapy using immune-system cells to fight cancer cells, is that shot." -- Axios' Bob Herman
Venture Capital Deals

🚑 CF PharmTech, a Suzhou, China-based developer and manufacturer of inhalation products, has raised $65 million in Series D funding led by Future Industry Investment Fund.

• Fangsiling, a Chinese provider of rent installment payment solutions, has raised around $45 million in Series E funding. Mingdaojinkong led the round, and was joined by 9F Bank, 9C Capital, Will Hunting Capital and

🚑 Distinct Healthcare, a Chinese operator of private healthcare clinics, has raised $40 million in Series C funding. Backers include Matrix Partners China, Tiantu Capital, China International Capital Co., Qianhai Fund of Funds and Shuimu Fund.

🚑 Hubble, a New York-based direct-to-consumer contact lens brand, has raised $10 million in new Series A funding from existing backers FirstMark Capital, Greycroft Partners, Founders Fund, Wildcat Capital Management and Two River.

Private Equity Deals

🚑 Excellere Partners has invested in Biocare, a Concord, Calif.-based provider of immunohistochemistry instrumentation. No financial terms were disclosed.

• Fusion Telecom (Nasdaq: FSNN) has agreed to acquire the cloud and business services unit of Atlanta-based Birch Communications, creating a combined company worth around $950 million (including debt), per Reuters. Birch Communications shareholders, led by majority owner Birch Equity Partners, will receive around $281 million in stock.

• Genstar Capital has invested in PDI, a Temple, Texas-based provider of software to the convenience retail and wholesale petroleum and logistics industries, for an undisclosed amount. Existing shareholder TA Associates will retain a position. Lazard managed the process.

🚑 KKR has agreed to acquire Laser Clinics Australia for A$650 million, beating out rival bids from API and Bain Capital.

• Platinum Equity has completed its previously-announced acquisition of United Site Services, a Westborough, Mass.-based provider of portable restrooms and temporary fencing, from Calera Capital. No financial terms were disclosed.

Liquidity Events

• Veritas Capital has hired Goldman Sachs to run a dual-track exit process for Excelitas Technologies, a Waltham, Mass.-based electronics components maker that could be worth upwards of $2 billion in a sale, according to Reuters. The story adds that Veritas also is seeking a buyer for Anaren, an East Syracuse, N.Y.-based maker of radar parts that could be worth around $1 billion.

More M&A

• 58 Suyun, a Chinese freight logistics group owned by e-commerce company 58 Daojia, has agreed to merge with Hong Kong-based urban logistics platform GoGoVan. 58 Daojia raised $300 million in 2015 from Alibaba Group, KKR and Ping An Insurance Group. GoGoVan has raised around $14 million in VC funding from New Horizon, Singapore Press, Hotung Investment Holdings, Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund and Mount Parker Ventures.

• Asia Pulp & Paper, an Indonesian pulp-maker, denied a Reuters report that it plans to acquire Brazilian rival Eldorado Brasil Celulose at an enterprise value of around $4.8 billion.

• CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) has agreed to acquire Australia's Ten Network Holdings (ASX: TEN), beating out fellow Ten Network creditor News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWSA).

• Littelfuse (Nasdaq: LFUS) has agreed to acquire Milpitas, Calif.-based chipmaker IXYS Corp. (Nasdaq: IXYS) for around $750 million in cash or stock. The $23 per share purchase price represents a 44% premium over Friday's close for IXYS shares.

⛽ Odebrecht, a listed Brazilian construction company, has agreed to sell a 456-megawatt hydroelectric plant in northern Peru for $1.39 billion to an investor group led by China Three Gorges Corp., according to Reuters.

⛽ Raízen Combustíveis of Brazil is in talks to acquire the Argentina gas station network of parent company Royal Dutch Shell for more than $1 billion, according to Reuters.


• Affinity Equity Partners is pre-marketing its fifth Asia-focused buyout fund with a $5 billion target, according to the WSJ.

• Bracket has been launched as a Los Angeles-based venture capital firm by Jihan Bowes-Little, a former Goldman Sachs trader who also has been a hip-hop performer known as Metis.

⛽ EnCap Flatrock is seeking $3 billion for its latest fund focused on the midstream energy sector, per Dow Jones.

• Waterland, a Dutch mid-market buyout firm, has raised €2 billion for its seventh fund.

It's Personnel

• Katsuyuki Kuki has joined The Blackstone Group as chairman and representative director for Japan. He previously was chairman of banking for J.P. Morgan in Japan.

• Brian Walsh has joined McKinsey & Co. as general manager of corporate VC solutions, per his LinkedIn account. He previously was North America new venture lead for the Konica Minolta Business Innovation Center, and also was CEO of Vital Herd and a principal with energy-focused VC firm Nth Power.

Final Numbers: Global deal-making
Dan Primack