Jun 2, 2017

Axios Pro Rata

By Dan Primack
Dan Primack

I hope to see a bunch of you later today at the ILPA Members Conference in Boston, where I'll be interviewed by Textron chief investment officer Charles Van Vleet in a table-turning sort of keynote. Kind of intriguing for me, as ILPA has never before let me attend their annual confab (despite repeated requests). Also want to announce that Axios today launches a new section on the Future of Work, which you can find here. Okay, let's get to it...

Top of the Morning

After President Trump yesterday announced that the U.S. will pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, both Elon Musk (Tesla) and Bob Iger (Disney) resigned from the President's Strategic and Policy Forum, which is chaired by The Blackstone Group's Steve Schwarzman. We haven't discussed this CEO advisory group in a while, so now seems like a good time. Per sources familiar:

  • Legality: There have been concerns that the group is dodging the Federal Advisory Committee Act, a 45-year-old law that requires presidential advisory committee meetings to be open to the public (yes, the same rule that bedeviled Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force). I'm told that Trump's group believes it is immune to FACA because it is not providing any group-wide recommendations to Trump (i.e., taking votes, presenting consensus white papers, etc.). Instead, individual members state their opinions ― with an explicit focus on action-oriented suggestions rather than problem elucidation ― which theoretically turns group counsel into individual counsel.
  • Members: Trump didn't actually pick the Forum members. Schwarzman did, subject to Trump's approval or disapproval (he only knocked out one person, who ended up on a different presidential advisory group).
  • Distinct: There are no plans for the Forum members to hold meetings around the country, as we saw from a similar group in the Obama White House (chaired by Jeff Immelt). Another big difference is that the Obama effort was focused almost exclusively on job creation, whereas this one is about broader economic issues (taxes, regulation, etc.). There is also a lot of what was described to be as "CEO counseling" for cabinet members who have never run large organizations before.

• Dry powder mountain: Yesterday we noted that CVC Capital Partners had raised over €16 billion for what is the largest-ever such private equity vehicle ever raised by a Europe-based firm. Today, KKR announced that it has raised the largest-ever Asia-focused fund with $9.3 billion in capital commitments. All of this follows comes just weeks after the largest global private equity fund ever raised (SoftBank Vision Fund) and Silver Lake raising the largest tech-focused fund ever raised by a U.S.-based firm. And then there is Apollo Global Management, which is raising more than $23 billion for its next flagship buyout vehicle.

  • Market timing: The last time we saw massive fundraising like this, the global economy had peaked.

• Have a great weekend!


Blue Apron, a New York-based meal kit subscription service, has filed for a $100 million IPO (almost certainly a placeholder figure, with the ultimate offering to raise much more). It plans to trade on the NYSE under ticker symbol APRN, with Goldman Sachs listed as left lead underwriter. The company reports a $55 million net loss on $795 million in revenue for 2016, compared to a $47 million net loss on $341 million in revenue for 2015.

  • Why it's the BFD: There has been lots of talk lately about the failure of VC-backed meal delivery businesses, but almost all of that has focused on proprietary, prepared meals. Alternative strategies like GrubHub (basically restaurant delivery) seem to be doing fine, and Blue Apron's IPO will be used to validate (or invalidate) the meal kit model.
  • Investors: The company has raised over $190 million in VC funding, most recently at a $2 billion post-money valuation. Shareholders include Bessemer Venture Partners (23.8% pre-IPO stake), First Round Capital (10.5%), Stripes Group (6.5%) and Fidelity Investments (6.2%).
  • Notable number: Blue Apron says that first quarters are its busiest, as people slow their deliveries during summer and holiday seasons. But the company flipped from $3 million in net income in Q1 2016 ($172m in revenue) to a $52 million net loss in Q1 2017 ($245m rev). Part of this is explained by a $45 million boost in marketing spend, while the rest seem stuck inside of an amorphous "product, technology, general and administrative" line. A source declined to specify, except to say the difference wasn't caused by anything "nefarious."
Venture Capital Deals

🚑 Monteris Medical, a Plymouth, Minn.-based maker of laser ablation systems for treating brain lesions, has raised $26.6 million in Series C funding. Versant Ventures and SightLine Partners co-led the round, and were joined by Birchview Capital and BDC Capital. www.monteris.com

• Neigou.com, a Beijing-based online platform for employee benefits, has raised nearly $14 million in Series B funding from China's National Small and Medium-size Enterprises Development Fund, Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business and Focus Media Information Technology. http://bit.ly/2qNtYbN

• Greenlight Financial Technology, maker of a "smart debit card for kids," has raised $7.5 million in seed funding from Relay Ventures, NEA, Social Capital and TTV. http://tcrn.ch/2slNuOA

Private Equity Deals

• Apax Partners has agreed to buy the electronic monitoring business of 3M's (NYSE: MMM) traffic safety and security division for around $200 million. http://on.mktw.net/2ro2n34

• Eureka Growth Capital has sponsored a management recapitalization of McCue Corp., a Peabody, Mass.-based provider of damage prevention and asset protection solutions for the retail and material handling industries. No financial terms were disclosed. www.mccue.com

• Fortune Fountain Capital of China has agreed to buy a control stake in French crystal maker Baccarat (Paris: CDBP) from Starwood Capital for around €164 million. https://bloom.bg/2qJhPJZ

• Kohlberg & Co. has acquired CIBT Global, a McLean, Va.-based provider of travel visas and immigration services, from ABRY Partners for an undisclosed amount.

• Pulse Secure, a San Jose, Calif.-based access solutions provider backed by Siris Capital Group, has agreed to acquire the Virtual Application Delivery Controller assets of Brocade Communications Systems (Nasdaq: BRCD). No financial terms were disclosed for the deal, which includes a leased R&D facility in the UK. http://bit.ly/2qGJJ9A

Public Offerings

🚑 Mersana Therapeutics Inc., a Cambridge, Mass.-based developer of antibody drug conjugates, has filed for a $75 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol MRSN, with J.P. Morgan serving as left lead underwriter. The company has raised around $130 million in VC funding, from firms like NEA (41% pre-IPO stake), Pfizer (11.6%), F-Prime Capital (9.9%), Rho Ventures (7.6%), Rock Springs Capital (7.6%), Wellington Management (5.6%), Millennium Pharma (5.6%) and ProQuest Investments (5.5%). www.mersana.com

• Tintri, a Mountain View, Calif.-based provider of VM-aware storage for virtualization and cloud environments, has filed for a $100 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol TNTR, with Morgan Stanley listed as left lead underwriter. The company reports a $106 million net loss on $125 million in revenue for fiscal 2016 (ending 1/31/17), compared to a $101 million net loss on $86 million in revenue for fiscal 2015. It has raised around $260 million in equity funding, from backers like NEA (22.7% pre-IPO stake), Silver Lake Kraftwerk (20.4%), Insight Venture Partners (20.2%), Lightspeed Ventures (14.5%) and Menlo Ventures. www.tintri.com

Liquidity Events

⛽ H.I.G. Capital has completed its previously-announced $100 million sale of Comverge, a Norcross, Va.-based provider of energy demand response software, to Itron (Nasdaq: ITRI). http://bit.ly/2ryaQmj

More M&A

⛽ Apache Corp. (NYSE: APA) has agreed to sell its Canadian light oil assets to Cardinal Energy (TSX: CJ) for C$330 million. http://reut.rs/2qHP8ZE

• Barclays (LSE: BARC) has agreed to sell its Zimbabwe bank to Malawi-listed First Merchant Bank for an undisclosed amount, although employees are asking Zimbabwe's High Court to block the transaction. http://on.ft.com/2rsaRpJ

• Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM) has not yet offered an divestiture concessions in its $38 billion takeover bid for NXP Semiconductors (NYSE: NXP), according to EU antitrust regulators. http://reut.rs/2slRsH6

• Sandvik, a listed Swedish engineering group, has agreed to sell its process systems business for $576 million to FAM AB, which is owned by the three largest Wallenberg foundations. http://fxn.ws/2qJ9826


• Altimeter Capital Management of Boston is raising up to $200 million for its third growth equity fund, per an SEC filing. www.altimetercapital.com

• Castlelake has closed its third aviation-focused investment fund with $1 billion in capital commitments. www.castlelake.com

• CIC Capital Canada, a unit of France's Crédit Mutuel, has formed a US$500 million North American growth capital fund, which includes a $150 million allocation for investments in Quebec and Ontario companies. http://bit.ly/2rs8HXa

• Kaszek Ventures of Argentina has raised $200 million for its third fund, per an SEC filing. www.kaszek.com

• KKR has closed its third Asia-focused buyout fund with $9.3 billion in capital commitments (including around $800m from the firm's own balance sheet). https://bloom.bg/2suzSQr

• OpenView Venture Partners is raising up to $200 million for its fifth fund, per an SEC filing. www.openviewpartners.com

• Orkila Capital, a growth equity firm focused on the media, entertainment and consumer sectors, has secured $118 million for its second fund ($130m target), per an SEC filing. www.orkilacapital.com

• Talomon Capital has been formed as a long-only hedge fund by Jussi Nyrölä (ex-EQT Partners) and Andrew Lubin (ex-SAC Capital). http://bit.ly/2qNnKJg

• True Ventures has closed its second "select" fund, which supports later-stage rounds for existing portfolio companies, with $112 million in capital commitments. www.trueventures.com

It's Personnel

• Else Bos is stepping down as CEO of Dutch pension giant PGGM, effective in November. No word yet on her successor. http://bit.ly/2slBWLi

• Martin vom Hagen (ex-AllianceBernstein) has joined Adams Street Partners as a partner and head of the Chicago-based private equity firm's new Munich office. www.adamsstreetpartners.com

Dan Primack