DC folk: You're invited to breakfast tomorrow morning with Axios, where we'll host a series of conversations on the future of 5G and transportation. Guests include Chris Urmson (CEO of Aurora, former CTO of Google's self-driving cars unit), Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) and Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI). RSVP here.
Top of the Morning
Comcast today offered $31 billion in cash to buy Sky News, topping 21st Century Fox's $15 billion offer for the 61% stake it doesn't already own. On a share vs. share basis, Comcast is offering £12.50 against Fox's £10.75.
- This is an entertaining heel turn by Comcast's Brian Roberts, at least as far as Rupert Murdoch is concerned. There had been some published speculation that Comcast would top Disney's bid for 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets, thus becoming Rupert's benefactor rather than his rival...
- ... But Comcast/Disney prospects always had some complications, as Axios' Sara Fischer explains: "Comcast needs streaming assets to compete on a global stage against tech behemoths like Netflix. But an attempt to outbid Disney for Fox’s entertainment properties seems unlikely, given the regulatory hurdles it would face in the U.S. and 21st Century Fox President Peter Rice’s recent comments that Disney would probably make a better deal partner. Given those circumstances, its other viable acquisition option is to try to pick off Sky News as a streaming opportunity by itself, which seems to be the direction it’s moving in."
- Speaking of complications: Disney's deal for 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets includes the latter's 39% stake in Sky News, and Comcast's bid doesn't appear to affect that agreement (which was not conditioned on 21st Century Fox buying the rest of Sky).
• Worthy of your time: Bethany McLean in Vanity Fair on sexual harassment and Wall Street:
With so many stories of sexual harassment spanning decades, why aren’t the women on Wall Street leading the #MeToo charge? An obvious answer: the money. Wall Streeters often have a great deal of money tied up in their firms in the form of stock, and they usually have to sign non-disclosure agreements, either as a condition of employment or to get money when they depart. “For many senior women there is way too much on the table,” says a retired senior woman. “That’s the base reason why you haven’t heard more.”
• King kudos: During yesterday's Axios event in New York, Draymond Green credited LeBron James for the number of current NBA players actively involved in off-the-court investment and business endeavors. "He started to approach his deals as a partner... it's given us all more opportunities."
- But he didn't put LeBron on his all-time starting 5. Instead, that was: Jordan, Kobe, Shaq, Magic ("someone needs to pass them the ball") and Dirk (to space the floor).
- Green said that, inside the Warriors locker room, there is more talk about investments than basketball.
Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) is in talks to acquire the 60% stake it does not already own in Chinese food ordering and delivery platform Ele.me, according to the FT. The deal could value Ele.me at upwards of $9.5 billion, while sellers would include Baidu, Horizon Ventures and Sequoia Capital China.
- Why it's the BFD: Because this would provide Alibaba with its first in-house delivery workers and logistics network, things that global rival Amazon already has and is learning from.
- Bottom line: "Should the deal go through, Alibaba would become one of the country’s largest players in food delivery, rivaled only by online-to-offline services platform Meituan Dianping, which is backed by Alibaba’s competitor, Tencent." — Emily Feng, FT
Venture Capital Deals
• Industrious, a “premium” co-working space startup, has raised $80 million in new funding. Capital and Fifth Wall Ventures co-led, and were joined by Alrai, Outlook, Rabina Properties, Schechter Private Capital and Wells Fargo Strategic Capital. http://axios.link/SowC
🚑 Senti Biosciences, a South San Francisco-based developer of synthetic gene circuits for adaptive cell and gene therapies, has raised $53 million in Series A funding. NEA led, and was joined by 8VC, Amgen Ventures, Pear Ventures, Lux Capital, Menlo Ventures, Allen & Company, Nest.Bio, Omega Funds, Goodman Capital and LifeForce Capital. http://axios.link/XOwf
• Peakon, a “people analytics” startup with offices in London and Copenhagen, has raised $22 million. Balderton Capital led, and was joined by return backers EQT Ventures, Idinvest Partners and Sunstone. www.peakon.com
• CyberX, a cybersecurity startup focused on IoT and industrial networks, has raised $18 million in Series B funding. Norwest Venture Partners led, and was joined by return backers Glilot Capital Partners, Flint Capital, ff Venture Capital and OurCrowd. http://axios.link/EYd9
• Nomad Health, a New York-based online marketplace for healthcare jobs, has raised $12 million in Series B funding. Polaris Partners led, and was joined by return backers First Round Capital, RRE Ventures and .406 Ventures. www.nomadhealth.com
• May Mobility, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based developer of self-driving “micro-shuttle” fleets, has raised $11.5 million in seed funding from BMW iVentures, Toyota AI Ventures, Maven Ventures, SV Angel, Tandem Ventures, Trucks Ventures and YCombinator. http://axios.link/ZF5c
• Niche, a school search platform, has raised $6.6 million in Series B funding from Allen & Co. and Grit Capital. http://axios.link/afTQ
• ZenBusiness, an Austin, Texas-based provider of small business formation software, has raised $4.5 million from Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Greycroft, Slow Ventures, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest® Seed Fund and Founders Fund. http://axios.link/R27p
• Zededa, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based startup that wants to make it easier for enterprises to deploy and run real-time edge apps at "hyperscale," has raised $3.06 million in seed funding from Wild West Capital and Almaz Capital. www.zededa.com
• PawnGuru, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based online marketplace connecting pawn shops and consumers, has raised $2.5 million in Series A funding co-led by Impact America Fund and Invest Detroit Ventures. www.pawnguru.com
Private Equity Deals
• Butterfly Equity has acquired Modern Market, a Denver-based farm-to-table fast casual restaurant chain with 28 locations in four states. www.modernmarket.com
• Cerberus Capital Management has agreed to acquire the Australasian mortgage lending and portfolio servicing operations of UK-based Bluestone Group. http://axios.link/nMQe
• CR3 Capital has acquired Xymat Engineering, a Colorado Springs, Colo.-based manufacturer of specialty containers and material handling solutions for specific operational sites of the U.S. Department of Energy.
• Francisco Partners has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Discovery Education, a provider of digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms, from Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA) for $120 million. Discovery Communications will retain a minority stake. http://axios.link/GfaM
• L Squared Capital Partners has acquired a majority stake in United Scope, an Irvine, Calif.-based provider of microscopes and related accessories. www.amscope.com
• Liberty Media has offered to invest $1.6 billion for a 40% stake in radio broadcaster iHeart Media, as part of an expected bankruptcy restructuring, per the WSJ. iHeart is struggling over a debt-load born of a 2008 buyout by Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners. http://axios.link/uS34
⛽ Motor Fuel Group, a portfolio company of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, has acquired British petrol station and convenience retail operator MRH for approximately £1.2 billion. The deal creates the UK’s top operator by number of sites and second by fuel volume. http://axios.link/oGQK
🚑 Parthenon Capital Partners has invested in RedCard, a St. Louis-based provider of claims communications, payments and enrollment solutions to the healthcare sector. www.redcard.com
• Glassdoor, a Mill Valley, Calif.-based employer review site, is interviewing banks for an IPO that would come in the second half of 2018, per Bloomberg. Glassdoor has raised in VC funding, most recently at an $860 million valuation, from backers like Benchmark, DAG Ventures, T. Rowe Price, Battery Ventures, CapitalG, Dragoneer, Sutter Hill Ventures and Tiger Global Management. http://axios.link/Qfpw
👢Endless has sold British footwear retailer Jones Bootmaker to Pavers Ltd. http://axios.link/n0OI
• HgCapital has hired Arma Partners to find a buyer for Iris, a British accounting and payroll software company that could be valued north of £1 billion, per Sky News. http://axios.link/0Fne
• Visual China Group has acquired 500px, a Toronto-based photo-sharing site that had raised over $22 million from firms like Andreessen Horowitz, ff Venture Capital, and Harrison Metal. http://axios.link/E3vi
🚑 BenevolentAI, a British AI startup whose backers include Woodford Asset Management, has acquired the UK operations of Proximagen, a biotech company focused on inflammation and CNS disorders that once was led by BenevolentAI founder Ken Mulvany. http://axios.link/0Xeu
⛽ ContourGlobal (LSE: GLO) has agreed to acquire the solar power plant assets of Spain’s Acciona (Milan: ANA) for €962 million. http://axios.link/v7F2
🚑 Fresenius, a listed German healthcare company, may back out of its $4.75 billion takeover of Illinois-based generic drugmaker Akorn (Nasdaq: AKRX), based on the findings of an investigation into allegations of “breaches” at Akorn of FDA data integrity requirements. http://axios.link/M0Mz
• Legion Partners plans to pressure retailer Genesco (NYSE: GCO) to sell assets beyond just Lids Sports Group, according to Reuters. Legion, alongside 4010 Partners, holds a 5.3% stake in Genesco. http://axios.link/G3fP
• Microchip Technology (Nasdaq: MCHP) is in talks to acquire Microsemi (Nasdaq: MSCC), an Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based maker of military and aerospace semiconductor equipment that has a current market cap of around $7.55 billion, according to Reuters. http://axios.link/mkJc
⛽ Poland’s government announced plans to merge its country’s two largest oil refiners, PKN Orlen and Grupa Lotos. http://axios.link/Wft3
• Blossom Capital is raising between $75 million and $100 million for its debut fund, which will focus on European startups, per TechCrunch. Co-founders include Ophelia Brown (ex-LocalGlobe, ex-Index Ventures), Candice Lo (ex-Uber China), Imran Ghory (ex-Index) and Mike Hudack (current CTO ast Deliveroo). http://axios.link/9kNP
• East Ventures, a VC firm focused on Indonesia and Southeast Asia, is targeting $100 million for its seventh fundraising effort, per DealStreetAsia. http://axios.link/1rY0
• Caroline Ruter has joined HgCapital as head of responsible investing. She previously was global head of global head of supply chain sustainability at GlaxoSmithKline. HgCapital also added operating partner Dawn Marriott-Sims as a partner, and promoted Nick Jordan, Jean-Baptiste Brian, Thorsten Toepfer and general counsel Andrew Jessop to partner. www.hgcapital.com
- More from EY: "Companies are facing intense pressure to evolve their business models using rapidly advancing technology. And they continue to navigate ongoing macroeconomic and geopolitical issues like the recent U.S. tax reform and Brexit. All of these pressures are placing divestments at the core of their growth and transformation strategy."
- 20% of Americas respondents said shareholder activism helped prompt their most recent divestment, compared to 17% in EMEA and 11% in Asia-Pacific.