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January 10, 2022

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Top of the Morning

Illustration of a hand and football landing short of a one hundred dollar bill end zone

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Eli Manning is the latest retired NFL great to join the world of private equity, this morning announcing that he's joined Brand Velocity Partners. Not as a part-time adviser or conference glad-hander, but as an actual partner.

Why it matters: BVP, founded in 2019 to buy consumer brand companies, has interest in expanding into sports investing, including the growing business of buying up pro teams. Manning lends the firm extra credibility and contacts in that space, and says it will be his primary job.

  • "People don't realize that I do the 'Monday Night Football' gig from my house," Manning explains. "So unless BVP is planning meetings between 8:15 to 11:30 on Monday nights, I'm pretty much wide open."

Behind the scenes: Manning first got to know BVP when his family (including brother Peyton and father Archie) invested in a Louisiana grill maker called BBQGuys, which BVP bought in late 2020.

  • He previously had been introduced to several venture capitalists, but was interested in learning what he calls "private equity 101," and began sitting in on BVP meetings.
  • Manning adds that he was especially taken with a BVP program whereby the firm's partners allocate 10% of their carried interest to portfolio company employees.

SPAC stuff: BVP had planned to quickly flip BBQGuys to an unaffiliated SPAC called Velocity Acquisition Corp. for nearly $1 billion, but the deal soured over supply chain issues and was terminated in November.

  • BVP, which operates as a fundless sponsor, also filed for its own SPAC last March, on which Manning was listed as an adviser, but firm co-founder Drew Sheinman (who has his own sports industry background) says the effort is currently on hold.

Big picture: A few other retired quarterbacks are in private equity, including ESPN colleague Steve Young (who co-founded HGGC) and fellow ex-Giant Dave Brown (Moelis & Co.).

  • Also worth noting that the Patriots are going to the playoffs and the Giants are going off a cliff, as Manning acknowledged in our call.

The bottom line: The road to private equity almost always used to go through banks or consulting firms. It now has a much wider range of starting points.


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Source: Giphy

Take-Two Interactive (Nasdaq: TTWO), publisher of games like Grand Theft Auto and NBA 2K, agreed to buy Zynga (Nasdaq: ZNGA) for $12.7 billion in cash and stock.

Why it's the BFD: This reflects how traditional game publishers are spending big on mobile, where Zynga has had success with both its legacy hits (e.g., Farmville, Words with Friends) and so-called hypercasual games like Hair Challenge.

Details: Take-Two is paying the equivalent of $9.86 per share, a 64% premium over Zynga's closing price on Friday, but below where it traded for most of the period between December 2020 and July 2021. Back in 2013, former Zynga director John Doerr joked on stage with me that "God intended" Zynga's share price should be above $10.

The bottom line: "Zynga has been in acquisition mode itself, spending more than $750 million in 2021 on companies like StarLark, a mobile developer with a huge golf game, and mobile ad provider Chartboost. Those companies now become part of Take-Two." β€” Stephen Totilo, Axios Gaming

Venture Capital Deals

β€’ Ankorstore, a French wholesale marketplace for independent retailers, raised €250 million in Series C funding at a €1.75 billion post-money valuation. Bond and Tiger Global co-led, and were joined by insiders Index Ventures, Bain Capital Ventures, GFC, Alven and AglaΓ© Ventures.

πŸš‘ Maze Therapeutics, a South S.F.-based startup focused on translating genetic insights into new medicines, raised $190 million. Matrix Capital Management led, and was joined by General Catalyst, Andreessen Horowitz, Woodline Partners, Casdin Capital, City Hill Ventures, Foresite Capital, Driehaus Capital Management, Moore Strategic Ventures, Terra Magnum Capital Partners and NS Investments.

πŸš‘ MeMed, an Israeli provider of diagnostic tests for bacterial infections, raised $93 from Horizons Ventures, Shavit Capital, Social Capital, La Maison Partners, Touchwood Capital, Caesarea Medical Holdings, Union Tech Ventures, ClaI Insurance, Phoenix Insurance, Poalim Equity and Western Technology Investment.

β€’ RoadRunner Recycling, a Pittsburgh-based waste management company, raised $70 million from General Atlantic.

β€’ Career Karma, an S.F.-based tech career guidance platform, raised $40 million in Series B funding led by Top Tier Capital Partners.

β€’ Arrive, a German instant delivery startup focused on non-grocery consumer goods, raised $20 million in Series A funding. Balderton Capital led, and was joined by GFC, Burda Principal Investments, La Famiglia and 468 Capital.

β€’ Draftea, a daily fantasy sports startup focused on Spanish-speaking Latin America, raised $13.2 million. Kaszek led, and was joined by Sequoia Capital, Bullpen Capital and Nigel Eccles.

β€’ ParrotConnect, a Mexican startup focused on digitizing restaurants, raised $9.5 million led by F-Prime Capital.

β€’ ThankUCash, a Nigerian loyalty rewards infrastructure startup, raised $5.3 million in seed funding co-led by 500 Global and Unicorn Growth Capital.

β€’ PrimaryBid, a London-based new public share investment platform, is in advanced talks to raising $150 million in Series C funding led by SoftBank at a pre-money valuation north of $500 million, per Sky News.

β€’ The House of LR&C, a Seattle-based fashion startup co-founded by NFL quarterback Russell Wilson and singer Ciara, is seeking to raise between $20 million and $50 million, Axios’ Richard Collings reports. It also just closed on a convertible note funding led by Harlem Capital.

Private Equity Deals

β€’ Bregal Partners bought Juniper Landscaping, a Fort Myers, Fla.-based provider of commercial landscaping services.

β€’ Kinderhook Industries bought Chicago-based wire and cable distributor Kingwire, and merged it with existing portfolio company Cameron Wire & Cable.

β€’ WilliamsMarston, a Boston-based portfolio company of Align Capital Partners, acquired Bay Valuation Advisors, an Oakland-based provider of valuation advisory services.

Public Offerings

Two U.S. IPOs are expected this week: Private equity giant TPG and HR software firm Justworks.

πŸš‘ Amylyx Pharma, a Cambridge, Mass.-based developer of ALS treatments, raised $190 million in its IPO. It priced 10 million shares at $19, versus plans to offer 8.8 million shares at $18–$20, for a $1.1 billion fully diluted value. The Phase 3 biotech plans to list on the Nasdaq (AMLX) and raised $200 million in VC funding from firms like Morningside Ventures (22.4% pre-IPO stake) and Viking Global Investors (10.5%).

πŸš‘ CinCor Pharma, a Boston-based biopharma focused on hypertension, raised $194 million in its IPO. It priced 12.1 million shares at $16, versus plans to offer 11 million shares at $15–$17, for a $594 million fully diluted value. CinCor will list on the Nasdaq (CINC) and raised over $190 million from Sofinnova Ventures (23% pre-IPO stake), Sofinnova Partners (17%), 5AM Ventures (17%) and General Atlantic (10.6%).

πŸš‘ Vigil Neuroscience, a Cambridge, Mass.-based developer of antibody therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, raised $98 million in its IPO. It priced at $14 per share (below $15–$17 range), for a $396 million market cap. Vigil will list on the Nasdaq (VIGL) and had raised around $140 million from Atlas Ventures (24.9% pre-IPO stake), Northpond Ventures (18.2%), Vida Ventures (15.7%), Amgen (15.1%) and Hatteras Venture Partners (5.9%).

β€’ Cariloha, a Sandy, Utah-based sustainable bedding and bath goods brand, filed for a $50 million IPO. It plans to list on the Nasdaq (ALOHA) and is slightly profitable with $34 million in revenue for the first nine months of 2021. Backers include Blacktop Capital.

⚑ Excelerate Energy, a global LNG company based in The Woodlands, Texas, filed for an IPO. It plans to list on the NYSE (EE) and reports $43 million of net income on $550 million in revenue for the first nine months of 2021.

β€’ HomeSmart, a Scottdale, Ariz.-based online residential property brokerage, filed for an IPO. It plans to list on the Nasdaq (HS) and reports a $2 million net loss on $478 million in revenue for the first nine months of 2021.

β€’ Mattress Firm, a Houston-based mattress retailer backed by Steinhoff International, filed for an IPO that Renaissance Capital estimates could raise up to $500 million. It plans to list on the NYSE (MFRM) and reports a $165 million net loss on $4.4 billion in revenue for its most recent fiscal year.

β€’ Reddit reportedly picked Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs to lead its upcoming IPO.

SPAC Stuff

πŸš‘ Akili Interactive, a Boston-based maker of video games for cognitive therapy, is in talks to go public via Social Capital Suvretta Holdings 1 (Nasdaq: DNAA) at an implied valuation north of $800 million, per Bloomberg. Akili has raised around $280 million from firms like Jazz Venture Partners, PureTech Health, Neuberger Berman, M Ventures, Amgen, Shionogi & Co., Ladera Ventures, Evidity Health Capital, Omidyar Technology Ventures, Fearless Ventures, Polaris Partners, Mirae Asset Wealth Management, New Leaf Venture, Temasek and Baillie Gifford.

Liquidity Events

β€’ Aion Capital Partners, an affiliate of Apollo Global Management, is seeking a buyer for Indian call center operator IGT Solutions, which could fetch more than $700 million, per Bloomberg. Suitors include KKR and PAG.

⚑ Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE: EPD) agreed to buy Midland Basin-focused Navitas Midstream Partners from Warburg Pincus for $3.25 billion in cash.

πŸš‘ R1 RCM (Nasdaq: RCM) agreed to buy Cloudmed, an Atlanta-based provider of revenue intelligence software for healthcare providers, from New Mountain Capital at a $4.1 billion enterprise value.

  • Axios' Sarah Pringle reports that the EV is more than 13X what Cloudmed was worth when New Mountain formed it in 2017 via the merger of IMA Consulting and Revint Soutions. She adds that the New Mountain will own 30% of the combined business ($12.4b EV) after the all-stock deal closes. Join the waitlist for Axios Pro, including the health tech deals newsletter co-authored by Sarah.

More M&A

β€’ BayernLB, a German lender, is exploring a possible sale of retail bank Deutsche Kreditbank, which could fetch around €3 billion, per Bloomberg.

β€’ Delivery Hero, a listed German food delivery group, sold a $150 million stake in Latin American delivery service Rappi to undisclosed buyers, but says it still holds just under an 8% stake valued north of $400 million.

⚑ Legacy Reserves, a Midland, Texas-based shale producer, is seeking to raise around $800 million via a sale process for its oil and gas assets in the Permian and Haynesville basins, per Reuters.

πŸš‘ Owens & Minor (NYSE: OMI) agreed to buy Apria (Nasdaq: APR), an Indianapolis-based provider of home healthcare equipment, for around $1.45 billion, or $37.50 per share (26.2% premium over Friday’s close).

πŸš‘ Penumbra (NYSE: PEN) is in talks to merge with fellow medical device maker Shockwave Medical (Nasdaq: SWAV), per Bloomberg.

β€’ Reliance Industries of India agreed to pay $98 million for a control stake in the Mandarin Oriental New York hotel.


β€’ Blank Ventures is raising $50 million for its debut fund, per an SEC filing. The S.F.-based firm's co-founders are Inovia Capital vets Hannah Chelkowski and Antoine Nivard, plus former Stripe and Amazon investment exec Abhinav Tiwari.

β€’ Leonard Green & Partners is targeting $13.5 billion for its ninth flagship fund, and $3.25 billion for a fund focused on smaller deals, per public pension documents.

It's Personnel

β€’ Sebastien Burdel and Luca Salvato joined Ares Management as partners in the firm's secondaries group. They previously co-founded Spring Bridge Partners and, before that, were with Coller Capital.

β€’ Louise Kingston joined Baird Capital as a director of portfolio operations. She previously was with Livingbridge.

β€’ Pete Wilson joined IK Partners to focus on U.K. mid-cap deals. He previously was with 3i Group. IK also announced five promotions to partner: Thierry Aoun, Maria Brunow, Vincent Elriz, Antoine Jacquemin and Diki Korniloff.

Final Numbers

Data: Yahoo finance; Chart: Will Chase/Axios
Data: Yahoo finance; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

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