Greetings from the home office. Some notes to kick off your Tuesday:
• New firm alert: John Caple has stepped down as a partner with Comvest Partners, in order to launch a new lower middle-market private equity firm with David Block, who is in the process of resigning as president and CEO of Swiss Watch International. The two have been longtime pals, going back to their days as colleagues at consulting firm Bain & Company.
“At Comvest I was usually the person doing the most deep value or deep turnaround deals, even buying businesses that were unprofitable,” Caple says. “So that’s where we’ll be focused.”
Caple adds that he plans to remain on existing portfolio company boards for Comvest, saying that the split was amicable. “David and I have always wanted to work together, and this just seemed like the right opportunity and time.”
He declined to discuss anything surrounding fundraising, which I take to be de facto confirmation that there will indeed be fundraising (i.e., this won’t be a fundless sponsor).
• Answer Key: On April 5 I asked you to name the Texas-based advisor and investment firm that’s being acquired by a larger New York-based boutique? Your hint was that both firms are eponymous.
None of you got it right, but Reuters yesterday reported that “Perella Weinberg Partners is engaged in discussions with Houston-based energy boutique bank Tudor Pickering Holt & Co, which could result in a merger or a partnership, a person briefed on the matter said.” Yup, that’s it.
• In market: During its Q1 earnings call yesterday, KKR gave updates to several of its active fundraising efforts.
Quick rundown: (1) KKR’s 12th North American buyout fund is on target to close at its $12 billion cap later this year, although the final total will be closer to $12.5 billion or $13 billion (once GP and employee commits are included). (2) Other funds on pace to close this year include KKR’s first tech growth equity fund (already held a first close) and a European direct lending fund. A new Asia private equity fund is expected to launch later in 2016.
• Today in Theranos: According to the NY Times, the blood-testing company’s board of directors has hired an independent law firm not only to interact with regulators, but also to investigate “whether Theranos made proper disclosures to investors.” In addition, a plaintiff’s law firm today took out an advertisement in peHUB Wire (a product that shares some founding DNA with Term Sheet), seeking out Theranos investors who may have been defrauded.
The first part is a bit odd, given that some Theranos board members have been doing media interviews, insisting that all is above board. Yet they’re simultaneously paying a law firm to investigate internal fraud? The second reads like classic ambulance chasing or, in this case, blood droplet chasing.
And, in both cases, it should serve as a stark reminder that there can be value in a startup having professional investors (i.e., VCs) on its board, rather than connected tourists. Yes, companies with VC backing also can run into major troubles (see Zenefits, Canopy Financial, etc.), but this was a board with virtually no startup experience, let alone in the lab services space. If there were warning signs, these directors were particularly ill-equipped to see them.
THE BIG DEAL
• Ant Financial, the financial services affiliate of Alibaba Group (NYSE: BABA), has raised $4.5 billion in new equity funding at around a $60 billion valuation. China Investment Corp Capital and CCB Trust were joined by return backers like China Life Insurance, China Post Group, China Development Bank Capital and Primavera Capital Group. Read more.
VENTURE CAPITAL DEALS
• Remitly, a Seattle-based provider of remittance services, has raised $38.5 million in Series C funding. Stripes Group led the round, and was joined by Vulcan Capital and return backers DFJ, DN Capital, Bezos Expeditions and Trilogy Equity Partners. www.remitly.com
• Desktop Metal, a Lexington, Mass.-based industrial 3D printing startup, has raised $33.76 million in second-round funding, according to an SEC filing. Return backers include NEA, Kleiner Perkins and Lux Capital. Desktop Metal was founded by Ric Fulop, who previously founded A123 Systems and was a general partner with North Bridge Venture Partners. www.desktopmetal.com
• Trov, a San Francisco-based on-demand mobile insurance platform for individual items like laptops or bikes, has raised $25.5 million in Series C funding. Oak HC/FT led the round, and was joined by Suncorp Group (ASX: SUN), Guidewire (NUSE: GWRE) and Anthemis Group. www.trov.com
• Tado, a Munich-based developer of smart climate control devices for homes, has raised $23 million in new VC funding from Inven Capital, a VC arm of Turkey-based energy company Čez Group. www.tado.com
• Jet Health, a San Francisco-based platform for home health services, has raised $16.65 million in VC funding, according to a regulatory filing. Backers include SV Life Sciences and Health Enterprise Partners.
• TranServ, an Indian digital payments company, has raised $15 million in Series C funding. IDFC Spice Fund and Micromax Informatics co-led the round, and were joined by Nirvana and Faering Capital India. www.transerv.co.in
• Bossa Nova Robotics, a Pittsburgh-based developer of robotic technology for retailers, has raised $14 million in Series A funding led by WRV Capital. www.iloverobots.com
• Lendix, a French peer-to-peer lending platform, has raised €12 million in new VC funding. CNP Assurances, Matmut and Zencap AM were joined by return backers Partech Ventures, Decaux Frères Investissements, Sycomore Factory and Weber Investissement. Some of the investors also committed to lend an additional €20 million via the Lendix platform. Read more.
• Vidsys, a Vienna, Va.-based provider of converged enterprise security and information management software, has raised $11 million in new VC funding from Harmony Partners. www.vidsys.com
• Naya Health, a Redwood City, Calif.-based breast pump maker, has raised $3.9 million in seed funding. Tandem Capital and Bojiang Capital co-led the round, and were joined by S-Cubed Capital, Astia Angels and StartX. www.nayahealth.co
• Auro Robotics, a San Francisco-based autonomous campus shuttle service, has raised $2 million in Series A funding. Motus Ventures led the round, and was joined by Rothenberg Ventures. www.aurorobotics.com
• LaunchPad Recruits, a UK-based provider of data and video software for job candidate hiring and assessment, has raised £2 million in Series A funding from firms like Sussex Place Ventures and Edenred Capital Partners. www.launchpadrecruits.com
• StoryStream, a UK-based marketing content platform, has raised £1.8 million in Series A funding led by MMC Ventures. www.storystream.it
• Rooam, a Washington, D.C.-based “socially-connected” mobile payment app, has raised $1.2 million in seed funding from undisclosed investors. www.rooam.co
• Integrated Beverage Group, a Denver-based wine company, has raised an undisclosed amount of second-round funding from Juggernaut Capital Partners at a valuation “in excess of $20 million.” www.integratedbev.com
• Kasisto, a Burlingame, Calif.-based virtual personal assistants for banks to communicate with their customers, has raised an undisclosed amount of strategic funding from Singapore’s DBS Bank. www.kasisto.com
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Allied 100 LLC, a Woodruff, Wis.-based portfolio company of Ridgemont Equity Partners, has acquired Lifeguard Medical Solutions, a distributor of automated external defibrillators and accessories. No financial terms were disclosed. www.allied100.com
• HGGC has acquired FPX, a Dallas-based provider of enterprise configure-price-quote applications. No financial terms were disclosed, except that company management retained a minority equity stake. Sellers include Acclaim Financial Group. www.fpx.com
• Shamrock Capital Advisors has acquired a majority stake in Silvergate Media, a London and New York-based television production and licensing company focused on entertainment content for pre-schoolers. No financial terms were disclosed. www.shamrockcap.com
• Veritas Capital has agreed to acquire the healthcare services business of Verisk Analytics Inc. (Nasdaq: VRSK), a Waltham, Mass.-based provider of data analytics, for $820 million. Read more.
• Z Capital Partners has acquired Twin-Star International Inc., a Delray Beach, Fla.-based maker of electric fireplaces and home furnishings, from Trivest Partners. No financial terms were disclosed. www.twinstarhome.com
• Zenith Energy, a liquids and bulk terminaling company backed by Warburg Pincus, has acquired an Amsterdam liquids storage and handling facility from BP PLC (LSE: BP), which “will continue to be a major customer of the Amsterdam terminal.” No financial terms were disclosed, except that Zenith plans to invest around $100 million into the facility. www.warburgpincus.com
• Nokia has acquired Withings, a Paris-based maker of fitness trackers, smart scales and other digital health devices, for €170 million. Withings had raised around $33 million in VC funding, from firms like Ventech, Idinvest Partners, 360 Capital Partners and Bpifrance. Read more.
• Ambev SA, a Brazilian beer and soda company controlled by Anheuser-Busch InBev, has acquired local juice maker Do Bem for an undisclosed amount. Read more.
• Auris Surgical Robotics, a San Carlos, Calif.-based developer of robotics technology for medical applications, has agreed to acquire Hansen Medical (Nasdaq: HNSN), a Mountain View, Calif.-based intravascular robotics company. The deal is valued at around $80 million in cash, or $4 per share. Auris has raised over $180 million in VC funding, from firms like Lux Capital, Mithril Capital Management and Highland Capital Partners. www.aurisrobotics.com
• Bank Al Etihad of Jordan is leading an investor consortium that has expressed interest in acquiring MESC Investment, the holding company for Dubai Islamic Bank’s business in Jordan. Read more.
• Charter Communications (Nasdsq: CHTR) has received U.S. regulatory approval for its $65.5 billion acquisitions of Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and Bright House Networks. Read more.
• The European Commission plans to block CK Hutchison’s (HK:1) planned $14.9 billion acquisition of British mobile network operator O2 UK, according to Reuters. Read more.
• Ironwood Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq: IRWD) has entered into a licensing agreement with AstraZeneca PLC (LSE: AZN) for the exclusive U.S. rights to gout drug Lesinurad. The deal includes a $100 million upfront payment, and upwards of another $165 million in earn-outs. www.ironwoodpharma.com
FIRMS & FUNDS
• Patriarch Partners, the private equity firm led by Lynn Tilton, is being sued by the Zohar funds she controlled until earlier this year, for allegedly refusing to provide the new Zohar managers with financial records. Read more.
• Willow Hill Ventures has been launched by Finistere Ventures and the International Farming Corp. as an agriculture-focused venture capital fund with “a captive farmland base and on-farm innovation ecosystem dedicated to growth capital.” www.FinistereVentures.com
MOVING IN, ON & UP
• Michael Furey has joined Minneapolis-based private equity firm Yukon Partners as a Boston-based partner. He previously was a partner Halyard Capital. www.yukonpartners.com
• The Gores Group has promoted Robbie Reynders to managing director of operations. He had joined the firm in 2009 as a vice president, and sits on the boards of Gores portfolio companies Hay Group and Hovis. www.gores.com
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