Greetings from North Carolina, where flowers are blooming and venture bankers are gathering. Before getting to the business of business, I'm pleased to announce that soon we'll be launching two new newsletters: Axios Login, focused on tech by Ina Fried, and Axios Generate, focused on energy by Ben Geman. You can sign up by going here.
Top of the Morning
The BFD: Bike boom
Ofo, a Chinese bike-sharing service, has raised $450 million in Series D funding at a valuation north of $1 billion, according to Bloomberg. Backers include DST, Citic Private Equity, Matrix Partners, Coatue Management, Atomico and Macrolink Group.
Why it's the BFD: For starters, because it's not the only Chinese bike-sharing deal announced in the past 24 hours. Smaller rival Bluegogo announced a $58 million round led by Black Hole Capital. And that's all on top of last month's $300 million infusion for Mobike. It's a land grab reminiscent of ride-sharing, except it has driven prices so low that even Uber/Lyft/Didi/Dollar Tree would blush. Per the Bloomberg story, daily rental prices are often just 15 cents, and even that is being waived in some cases.
Bottom line: As an anonymous market tweeter noted, the bicycle in China has gone the symbol of egalitarian communism to the symbol of competitive capitalism.
Venture Capital Deals
Private Equity Deals
• Gardner Denver, a Milwaukee-based maker of industrial machinery owned by KKR, has filed for a $100 million IPO. That is likely a placeholder figure, and the filing does not include any underwriters besides KKR nor does it say where company shares would list. Gardner Denver reports a $31 million net loss on around $1.9 billion in revenue for 2016, compared to a $352 million net loss on $1.13 billion in 2015.
• Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) has agreed to acquire the 49% stake it does not already own in Japanese theme park operator Universal Studios Japan for $2.27 billion from shareholders like MBK Partners and Goldman Sachs. http://reut.rs/2mqUI4f
• Related Cos. has invested $80 million into Ladder Corp. (NYSE: LADR), a New York-based real estate investment trust, from pre-IPO shareholders like TowerBrook Capital Partners and GI Partners.
• Iberiabank (Nasdaq: IBKC) of Louisiana has agreed to buy Miami, Fla.-based Sabadell United Bank from Spain's Banco de Sabadell for around $1.03 billion. http://reut.rs/2mEelT9
• Sinclair Broadcast Group (Nasdaq: SBGI) has approached (slightly) smaller broadcast rival Tribune Media (NYSE: TRCO) about a possible merger, according to Reuters. http://cnb.cx/2ly0BbS
• Venture Investment Associates has raised $150 million for its eighth VC fund-of-funds, and $80 million for its third seed fund-of-funds. www.viafunds.com
• Andrew Joy has joined Hidden Harbor Capital Partners as a principal. He previously was a VP with Cerberus Capital Management. www.hh-cp.com
• Ray LaSoya has joining Cooley as a Los Angeles-based partner in the law firm's M&A practice. He previously was chair of the private equity practice at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. www.cooley.com