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Platinum Equity is in advanced talks to acquire Securus Technologies, a Dallas-based provider of phone services to U.S. prisoners, from private equity firm ABRY Partners for nearly $1.5 billion (including debt), according to Reuters.

Macro: For all the debate over private vs. public prisons, the reality is that both employ a variety of for-profit vendors like Securus.

Why it's a big deal: This is a heady return for ABRY, which reportedly paid just $640 million to buy Securus four years ago from Castle Harlan. And it's particularly impressive, given that ABRY's tenure included a massive hack in late 2015 that one person told the NY Post "could be the nail in the coffin" for Securus.

Bottom line: "The deal illustrates private equity firms' strong appetite for investments in prison phone service operators because of the strong cash flow they generate from facilitating phone calls, even as they attract criticism over the rates they charge." ― Greg Roumeliotis, Reuters

Go deeper

23 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's latest executive order: Buy American

President Joe R. Biden speaks about the economy before signing executive orders in the State Dining Room at the White House on Friday, Jan 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden will continue his flurry of executive orders on Monday, signing a new directive to require the federal government to “buy American” for products and services.

Why it matters: The executive action is yet another attempt by Biden to accomplish goals administratively without waiting for the backing of Congress. The new order echoes Biden's $400 billion campaign pledge to increase government purchases of American goods.

Tech digs in for long domestic terror fight

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With domestic extremist networks scrambling to regroup online, experts fear the next attack could come from a radicalized individual — much harder than coordinated mass events for law enforcement and platforms to detect or deter.

The big picture: Companies like Facebook and Twitter stepped up enforcement and their conversations with law enforcement ahead of Inauguration Day. But they'll be tested as the threat rises that impatient lone-wolf attackers will lash out.

The pandemic could be worsening childhood obesity

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The 10-month long school closures and the coronavirus pandemic are expected to have a big impact on childhood obesity rates.

Why it matters: About one in five children are obese in the U.S. — an all-time high — with worsening obesity rates across income and racial and ethnic groups, data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show.