Top of the Morning
The trade war escalated last night, with the U.S. identifying $200 billion of Chinese imports that could soon be subject to 10% tariffs.
- Timing: The tariffs wouldn't be imposed until August 31, which allows for both a comment period and hot heads to cool.
- What's included: Here's the list.
- Market reaction: Global equities are down, but we've previously seen traders react this way only to shake it off a day or two later.
- Context: Trump today is also feuding with NATO allies like Germany, which further solidifies the U.S. "go it alone" strategy.
- What's next? China previously issued reciprocal tariffs, but it doesn't import enough U.S. goods to do the same this time around. So if there isn't some sort of détente before the end of August, other options for the Chinese could include boycotts of U.S. goods (something it's done to other countries) or increased pressure on U.S. companies operating in China (added regulation, stepped-up inspections, etc.).
👽 Some scoop on AT&T's agreement to buy AlienVault, a Silicon Valley-based cyber-threat detection platform that had raised over $110 million in VC funding, per a source familiar:
- The deal valued AlienVault in the "high $500 millions to low $600 millions," and is for cash instead of stock.
- AlienVault initially received inbound interest from a company that wasn't AT&T, and then launched a formal sale process.
• Yesterday's BFD was private equity firm Brynwood Partners agreeing to buy the U.S. baking business of J.M. Smucker for $375 million, and I subsequently spoke with Brynwood CEO Henk Hartong. Notes:
- The goal for many of Brynwood's corporate carveouts is to find a number two or number three player that can gain market share, rather than a top player that needs to defend its leadership position. For the Smucker baking unit, which includes Pillsbury, that means tying to take business from Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines. "We can grow even if the category is not."
- Expect an increased pace of new product introductions.
- The deal includes two official, full-sized Pillsbury Doughboy costumes. Seriously. No decisions yet on how they'll be used.
• Today in Abraaj: Bloomberg reports that Colony Capital is raising its bid for some of the Abraaj funds, while Cerberus is bidding on all of the funds (albeit not the holding company's large LP interests).
• Value-add: The WSJ has a piece up on Vista Equity Partners, the tech-focused private equity firm that is known to have a detailed "playbook" that governs much of its post-acquisition strategy. Vista itself wouldn't discuss said playbook, as it's fundraising (fun fact, Vista is almost always fundraising), but there's some good insight from LPs, ex-employees and portfolio company execs. Worthy of your time.
- One thing the piece doesn't address, however, is if Vista's playbook will successfully scale alongside its rising fund sizes. In other words, does what works for mid-market software companies also work for large-market software companies.
- Vista co-founder Robert Smith will be among those interviewed next week at Fortune Brainstorm Tech in Aspen. I'll be there too, moderating both a VC lunch and a main stage session with two top SoftBank Vision Fund execs. Hope to see some of you there...
21st Century Fox raised its takeover offer for British broadcaster Sky from £10.75 per share to £14 per share, putting the total deal value at $32.5 billion. This comes after Comcast bid £12.50 per share, and amidst Comcast and Disney vying to buy Fox's entertainment assets.
- Why it's the BFD: Because breakfast is going to be super awkward in Sun Valley this morning, where Disney's Bob Iger, Comcast's Brian Roberts and Fox's Rupert Murdoch are all in attendance. Maybe one of them will go sit in the corner with Charlie Rose (seriously Allen & Co., what were you thinking with that invite?)
- Bottom line: This revised offer could guarantee that whoever buys Fox's entertainment assets also gets majority ownership of Sky, and seems to be just the latest hint that Fox prefers Disney.
Venture Capital Deals
☕ Luckin Coffee, a Beijing-based on-demand coffee delivery startup, raised $200 million in Series A funding at a $1 billion post-money valuation. Backers include GIC, Legend Capital, Joy Capital and Centurium Capital. http://axios.link/i5xL
• Convene, a New York-based meeting room booking startup, raised $152 million in Series D funding. ArrowMark Partners led, and was joined by Revolution Growth, Declaration Capital, QuadReal Property Group, Revolution Growth, Brookfield, CVC2, The Durst Organization, Elysium Management and RXR Realty. http://axios.link/pjH7
• Pony.ai, a self-driving technology startup led by ex-Baidu chief architect James Peng, raised $102 million in Series A-1 funding. Eight Roads Ventures and ClearVue Partners co-led, and were joined by Green Pine Capital Partners, CMC Capital, Redpoint Ventures and return backers Sequoia Capital China, Morningside VC, DCM Ventures and Hongtai Capital. http://axios.link/xChH
• Monday.com, an Israel-based provider of workplace collaboration tools, raised $50 million in Series C funding at a $500 million pre-money valuation, per TechCrunch. Stripes Group led, and was joined by return backers om Insight Venture Partners and Entrée Capital. http://axios.link/L21W
🚑 EndoGastric Solutions, a Redmond, Wash.-based developer of an incisionless procedural therapy for gastro reflux disease, raised $30.5 million in new funding from return backers Advanced Technology Ventures, Canaan Partners, Canepa Healthcare, Chicago Growth Partners, CRG, Radius Ventures and Sightline Partners. www.endogastricsolutions.com
• Higi, a Chicago-based provider of population health enablement solutions, raised $21.3 million in Series C funding from backers like Flare Capital Partners and 7wireVentures. www.higi.com
• PactSafe, a cloud-based contracting platform located in Indianapolis, raised $5.5 million in Series A funding. Mercury Fund and Signal Peak Ventures co-led, and were joined by return backers Elevate Ventures and Vulpes Investment Management. www.pactsafe.com
🚑 Virtudent, a Newton, Mass.-based provider of mobile dental clinics and tele-dentistry services for employers, raised $8 million in Series A funding. 406 Ventures led and was joined by SpringRock Ventures and return backer The Sparta Group. www.myvirtudent.com
• Olio, a UK-based app for hyperlocal sharing of unused food, raised $6 million in Series A funding. Octopus Ventures led, and was joined by return backers like Accel and Quadia. http://axios.link/kA7B
• MeWe, a Los Angeles-based “Facebook alternative,” raised $5.2 million in Series A funding led by individual investors Lynda Weinman, Jack Canfield and Rachel Roy. http://axios.link/kLoK
🐟 Anglr, a Pittsburgh-based digital tracking system for fishing, raised $3.3 million in Series A funding from KB Partners and Brunswick Corp. http://axios.link/A0j6
Private Equity Deals
• Ardian has acquired a minority stake in FiloBlu, an Italian digital consultant for brands and retailers. www.filoblu.com
• Audax has acquired MNX Global Logistics, a Long Beach, Calif.-based provider of expedited transportation and logistics services, from The Riverside Company. www.mnx.com
• Blue Wolf Capital Partners sold Suwannee Lumber Co., a Cross City, Fla.-based manufacturer of soft wood lumber for use primarily in decking and outdoor construction, to Conifex Timber (TSX: CFF). Also included in the sale was Caddo River Forest Products.
⛽ Boyne Capital agreed to acquire A.S.A.P. Industries Manufacturing, a Houma, La.-based maker of high-pressure flow control products to the North American oil and gas industry. www.boynecapital.com
⛽ Clean Chemistry, a Boulder, Colo.-based provider of chemical solutions and technology for oilfield water treatment, raised an undisclosed amount of growth capital from Black Bay Energy Capital.
• DBi Services, a Hazelton, Penn.-based portfolio company of Sterling Partners, has acquired Digital Traffic Systems, an Albuquerque-based developer of intelligent transport systems projects. www.dtsits.com
• BDO USA has acquired SWC Technology Partners, an Oak Brook, Ill.-based provider of IT solutions to mid-market organizations, from shareholders like Svoboda Capital Partners. www.swc.com
• Box (NYSE: BOX) has acquired Butter.ai, a San Francisco-based startup that lets users search within files across multiple work applications. Butter.ai had raised around $3 million in seed funding from General Catalyst. http://axios.link/xTc0
• Thoma Bravo is buying a majority stake in Centrify, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based identity and access management platform, per Reuters. Centify had raised over $90 million from firms like Accel, Mayfield, Jackson Square Ventures, Samsung Venture Investment, Fortinet, Docomo Innovation, Crossroads Capital, Index Ventures, Novirian Capital and Northgate Capital. http://axios.link/WhW9
• Univision confirmed that it has hired Morgan Stanley to explore a sale of digital assets Gizmodo Group and The Onion. Univision shareholders include Madison Dearborn, Thomas H. Lee Partners, Haim Saban, Providence Equity Partners and TPG. http://axios.link/gz5m
• Canopy Growth Corp. (TSX: WEED) agreed to buy Hiku Brands (CSE: HIKU), maker of the Tokyo Smoke cannabis brand, for C$269 million. http://axios.link/oIlB
• Evonik, a listed German chemicals group, has hired Barclays to find a buyer for its methacrylates plastics unit, which could fetch between €2.5 billion and €3 billion, per Reuters. http://axios.link/XbmE
• TD Bank (TSC: TD) agreed to buy Canadian institutional investment manager Greystone Capital Management for C$792 million. http://axios.link/zHID
• Bain Capital raised around $5.1 billion for its fifth European buyout fund, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/RxJA
• The Blackstone Group has begun pre-marketing its next global buyout fund, which will target $20 billion, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/rPPH
🚑 Forbion raised €270 million for its fourth European life sciences fund. http://axios.link/OxUR
• The Motley Fool appears to have launched an early-stage venture capital fund, led by former CFO Ollen Douglass, per an SEC filing. The target size is $100 million.
🚑 The Wellcome Trust has formed a £250 million not-for-profit investment fund for high-risk biomedical research. http://axios.link/2tsJ
• Cho In-sik is quitting the $565 billion National Pension Service of Korea, where he had been acting chief investment officer. http://axios.link/ZEmv