Mar 2, 2018

Axios Pro Rata

By Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Top of the Morning
Illustration: Axios Visuals

Wall Street apparently believed Trump on taxes, but not so much on trade.

That all changed yesterday when he announced plans to place 25% tariffs on imported steel and 10% tariffs on imported aluminum. The Dow dropped 420 points on Thursday, and is off another 300 in early trading this morning.

  • The White House yesterday was careful to avoid the term "trade war," but Trump let it fly this morning via Twitter. He also continues to view trade deficits like a balance sheet, proposed equalizing tariffs on all products and has not yet made a peep about exempting close allies like Canada (which is easily the top exporter of steel products to the U.S.).
  • U.S. steelmaker stocks gained yesterday, but were easily outweighed by losers like U.S. automakers.
  • August 2017 flashback: "I want tariffs. Bring me some tariffs."
  • The only question worth asking right now is if there will be retaliation, particularly from Asian countries like China. Unfortunately, it's not necessarily one being asked by the man in charge. Here's an exchange from yesterday's WH presser:
Q: Is the President concerned about any retaliation by any of the countries that may be impacted by this announcement?
Sanders: Not that I'm aware of.
  • Two counterarguments making the rounds are that steel tariffs imposed (briefly) by the Bush Administration in 2002 didn't spark a trade war, and that steel exports to the U.S. aren't important enough to the Chinese economy for Xi Jinping to pull out his own pen. But the reality is that we just don't know yet, and Trump's bellicosity on this issue could prompt a response in a way that Bush's demeanor didn't 13 years ago. Be sure to send some antacids to your local soybean farmer...

TMT time: Sweden-based private equity firm EQT Partners last week announced that it had closed its eighth flagship fund with $13.2 billion. What didn't make the press release is that its large-cap investment mandate in the U.S. has expanded from healthcare to also include TMT and services (mimicking an earlier change in its U.S. mid-market fund strategy). EQT also will continue to make U.S. infrastructure investments out of a separate vehicle.

Tweet talker:

Speaking of crypto: Last month I moderated a panel at Upfront Summit on investing in cryptocurrencies, and the full video is now available here.

Chip chat: Earlier this week we discussed how Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) sent a letter Monday to CFIUS, asking it to "act" on Broadcom-Qualcomm before next Tuesday's shareholder vote on new directors.

Leaving aside how unusual it would be for CFIUS to effectively preempt a proxy fight, it also would be a crazy quick turnaround time for a regulatory panel that typically takes months to make rulings. If it does indeed meet Cornyn's deadline, then can foreign buyers now expect nine-day reviews for their deals?

Source: Giphy

An investor group led by Maria Contreras-Sweet and Ron Burkle has agreed to a $500 million takeover of The Weinstein Co. — including $275 million in new investment and $225 million to pay off debts — which will keep the troubled studio out of bankruptcy. The deal also reportedly includes a $90 million victims compensation fund and a 40-day closing period.

  • Why it's the BFD: Because this bailout seemed dead and buried, only to be revived yesterday in a marathon negotiating session in the offices of NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
  • Bottom line: Harvey and Bob Weinstein get nothing.
Venture Capital Deals

🚑 Cota, a New York-based healthcare data and analytics company focused on oncology, has raised $40 million in Series C funding. IQVIA led, and was joined by EW Healthcare Partners, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Boston Millennia Partners, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Hackensack Meridian Health and Atoc Holdings.

🚑 Finch Therapeutics, a Somerville, Mass.-based microbiome therapeutics company, has raised $36 million in Series B funding from Shumway Capital, Willett Advisors, Morgan Noble and Avenir Growth Capital.

Astranis, a maker of miniature telecom satellites, has raised $13.5 million in Series A funding. Andreessen Horowitz led, and was joined by Y Combinator, Refactor Capital, Indicator Fund, and Fifty Years.

Smartcar, a Mountain View, Calif.-based connected car platform, has raised $10 million in Series A funding. NEA led, and was joined by seed backer Andreessen Horowitz.

TickX, a UK-based search engine and discovery platform for events, has raised £3 million in Series A funding led by BGF Ventures.

Blueprint Income, developer of a “digital retirement plan,” has raised $2.75 million in seed funding. NextView Ventures and Green Visor Capital co-led, and were joined by FinLab, Core Innovation Capital, Kairos Ventures, Jean Chatzky and Plug ’n Play.

Creedy, an online lending startup focused on small personal loans and school fee financing loans, has raised $1.4 million in seed funding from Y Combinator, Khosla Ventures and Vy Capital.

Private Equity Deals

ISA TanTec, a portfolio company of Navis Partners, has agreed to acquire Auburn Leather, an Auburn, Ky. -based maker and brand of leather laces.

Platinum Equity has acquired Highway Toll Administration, a Roslyn Heights, N.Y.-based provider of electronic toll collection services and technologies. HTA will be merged with existing Platinum portfolio company American Traffic Solutions.

Platinum Equity has acquired Lentz Milling, a Reading, Penn.-based provider of food ingredient distribution services.

Stone Point Capital is leading a $2.7 billion purchase of AmTrust Financial Services (Nasdaq: AFSI), in partnership with the insurer’s founding family and CEO. The deal is for $13.50 per share, a 12.8% premium over Wednesday’s closing price.

TZP Growth Partners has invested in FreshAddress, a Newton, Mass.-based provider of email marketing database services.

Public Offerings

🚑 Acacia Pharma, a British developer of nausea treatments for post-operative and chemotherapy patients, raised €40 million in a Brussels IPO. The company had raised VC funding from firms like Novo Holdings and Fidelity Biosciences.

Liquidity Events

Arsenal Capital Partners has hired Moelis to find a buyer for IGM Resins, a Dutch maker of materials for inks and coatings that could be worth around €500 million, according to Reuters.

More M&A

ESPN continues to seek buyers for Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight, with reports suggesting that it could wind up with The Atlantic, The Athletic or elsewhere within ESPN owner ABC.

GKN (LSE: GKN), a British engineering group fighting a hostile takeover bid from Melrose Industries (LSE: MRO), is in talks to sell its automotive business to Dana Inc. (NYSE: DAN), per the FT.

MassMutual has agreed to sell an 85% stake in its Japanese unit to Nippon Life for $982 million.


American Securities has closed its eighth buyout fund with $7 billion.

🚑 Regal Healthcare Partners is raising $100 million for a debut private equity fund that will focus on small and micro-cap healthcare companies. Its co-founder is Jon Santemma, who previously led global healthcare investment banking for Jefferies.

It's Personnel

Brian Gu is stepping down as JPMorgan’s chairman of Asia-Pacific investment banking, in order to join Chinese electric car maker Xiaopeng Motors, per the WSJ.

Industry Ventures has promoted Lindsay Sharma and Ira Simkhovitch to principals on its secondaries investment team.

Xavier Niel, chief strategy officer of French telecom company Iliad, has joined the board of KKR & Co. (NYSE: KKR).

Final Numbers
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Data:; Chart: Axios Visuals

Happy anniversary to Snap stock, which began trading one year ago this morning.

  • The stock's first-year performance was underwhelming, closing yesterday just 1.2% above its IPO price and 28.3% below its first-day opening trades.
  • On the other hand, remember that Facebook's stock was a whopping 30.92% below its $38 IPO price after its own first year of trading. Yesterday the social network's shares closed at $175.94.
Dan Primack