Q1 2015 will go down as the richest first quarter for mergers and acquisitions since Q1 2007, but an extraordinarily weak one for private equity deals.
According to preliminary data from Thomson Reuters, there was more than $843 billion in global M&A activity between January and March. That’s 23.3% higher than the $694 billion of M&A activity in the first quarter of last year, and nearly 72% higher than Q1 2013.
The actual number of global deals was down slightly year-over-year, from 9,402 to 8,926.
U.S. M&A activity had its largest first quarter since 2000 with $414.7 billion, and it was the best first quarter ever for Asia (non-Japan) M&A with $199.7 billion.
Healthcare led the global sector chart with $109.5 billion in deal activity, followed by real estate ($94b), telecom ($90b) and financials ($78b). Last year’s Q1 leader, media and entertainment, fell to 10th place with just $48.55 billion in activity.
One area that did see precipitous declines, however, was private equity. There was only $35.25 billion of PE-backed buyout activity in the first three months of 2015, compared to $63.78 billion in Q1 2014. That’s a dollar decline of 44.7%, while the number of deals fell by 7.3%. Perhaps that figure would be helped a bit if Thomson Reuters opted to characterize the Heinz/Kraft Foods merger as a private equity deal, but it seems unlikely.
I've seen some suggestions that private equity's slowdown is a modern indictment on the industry's antiquated model -- that what always was a cottage asset class is still a bit too roomy. But, from where I sit, it's far too early to coin phrases like "shack asset class" or "studio apartment asset class."
Is it possible that private equity actually learned some lessons from past excess? That it sees a long-running bull equities market and has opted to hang back, rather than try to get in front of it? That it remembers the low IRRs it generated by paying premiums on already-inflated valuations, and has heeded LP concerns about club deals that enabled larger transactions?
Yes, this is a very generous interpretation. But that doesn't make it wrong.
• More Q1 data: Only 31 companies went public on U.S. exchanges in Q1 2015, raising a paltry $5.15 billion, according to Thomson Reuters. That's the smallest quarterly raise amount since Q3 2012, and the lowest first quarter since Q1 2010.
• New fund alert: Seed-focused VC firm Structure Capital is raising up to $50 million for its second fund, according to a regulatory filing.
Structure is the firm originally launched by Mike Walsh, a successful angel investor whose deals have included Salesforce.com and Uber. He raised $10 million for a debut fund in 2013, and this vehicle includes a second general partner: Jillian Manus, an LP in Fund I and someone whose high-profile career has spanned banking to entertainment to publishing.
• Activism: Bessemer Venture Partners yesterday sent a letter to all of its portfolio company CEOs, telling them that they "follow the examples of Apple, Salesforce, EMC, Yelp, Angie’s List and other winning tech companies who have resolved to hire employees, host events, and generally do business in states that safeguard everyone’s rights, regardless of gender or sexual orientation."
I really do appreciate what BVP is trying to do here, particularly in telling its entrepreneurs that they should feel free to place their social consciousness above profits.
But it does not necessarily seem that BVP is willing to make the same commitment for its own activities. The firm does not currently have any portfolio companies in Indiana, but it also is not ruling out such investments (nor the travel and related spend that would come from such due diligence). In a response to my inquiry, I was told that the letter was "not focused on our investment strategy." It's also worth noting that BVP limited partners include at least one large public pension system in a state (Tennessee) with a law fairly similar to that of Indiana (thus BVP indirectly supports that state's economy).
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THE BIG DEAL
• GoDaddy Group, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Internet hosting company and domain registrar, raised $440 million in its IPO.
The company priced 22 million shares at $20 per share (above $17-$19 range), for an initial market cap of more than $3 billion (or $4.5 billion, including debt). It will trade on the on the NYSE under ticker symbol GDDY, while Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, and Citigroup were listed as lead underwriters. GoDaddy was acquired three years ago for $2.25 billion by KKR, Silver Lake and Technology Crossover Ventures. Read more.
VENTURE CAPITAL DEALS
• aTyr Pharma Inc., a San Diego-based developer of Physiocrine-based therapeutics to address rare diseases, has raised $76 million in Series E funding. Sofinnova Ventures led the round, and was joined by T. Rowe Price, Federated Investors, Deerfield Management, Rock Springs Capital Management, EcoR1 Capital, Sphera Global Healthcare and several undisclosed investors. Existing investors include Domain Associates, Alta Partners, Cardinal Partners and Polaris Partners. www.atyrpharma.com
• HyTrust, a Mountain View, Calif.-based cloud security automation company, has raised $25 million in new VC funding. Accelerate-IT Ventures led the round, and was joined by Vanedge Capital and return backers Cisco, Fortinet, Intel Corp. and VMware. The company also secured up to $8M in new venture debt and credit facilities. www.hytrust.com
• Noom Inc., a New York-based maker of mobile health and fitness apps, has raised $16.15 million in Series B funding. InterVest Co. Ltd. led the round, and was joined by LB Investment, Hanmi IT, RRE Ventures, TransLink Capital and Qualcomm Ventures. www.noom.com
• Spruce, a San Francisco-based telemedicine startup that lets patients connect with dermatologists, has raised $15 million in Series A funding. Backers include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Google Ventures, Baseline Ventures and Cowboy Ventures. Read more.
• Raptr, a Mountain View, Calif.-based optimization platform for PC gamers, has raised $14 million in new VC funding. Advanced Micro Devices led the round, and was joined by return backers Accel Partners, DAG Ventures and Tenaya Capital. The company previously raised $27 million. www.raptr.com
• TripHobo, an India-based “resource of user-generated travel itineraries,” has raised $3 million in Series B funding. Mayfield led the round, and was joined by return backer Kalaari Capital. www.triphobo.com
• Drifty Co., a Madison, Wisc.-based provider of an open source SDK for hybrid mobile app development, has raised $2.6 million in Series A funding. Lightbank led the round, and was joined by Founder Collective and return backer Arthur Ventures. www.ionic.io
• CanadaStays, a Canadian vacation rental site, has raised an undisclosed amount of equity funding from HomeAway (Nasdaq: AWAY) and Torstar Corp. (TSX: TS). www.canadastays.com
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Albireo Energy LLC, a portfolio company of Huron Capital Partners, has acquired Sky Technologies Inc., a New York-based provider of energy and power monitoring systems for mission-critical environments. No financial terms were disclosed. www.albireoenergy.com
• Apex Tool Group, a Sparks, Md.-based portfolio company of Bain Capital, has acquired Shanghai Yecen Auto Technology Ltd., a Chinese makers of wheel aligner and automotive lift products. No financial terms were disclosed. www.apextoolgroup.com
• Carlyle Cardinal Ireland has agreed to sponsor a management buyout of Carroll Cuisine, an Irish ham prpduct purveyor, from Aryzta AG (SWX: ARYN). No financial terms were disclosed. www.carlyle.com
• Everstone Capital has acquired Payfront Technologies Pte, the Asia-Pacific payroll unit of Aon Hewitt, for an undisclosed amount. www.aon.com
• Independence Resources Management, a new oil and gas E&P company focused on known producing basins in the Mid-Continent and Rockies, has secured a $500 million line of equity from Warburg Pincus. www.warburgpincus.com
• M/C Partners has acquired a majority stake in Denovo, a Wilmington, Del.–based provider of ERP cloud hosting, consulting and managed services. No financial terms were disclosed. www.denovocorp.com
• Asante Solutions Inc., a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based maker of disposable insulin pumps for patients with diabetes, has withdrawn registration for an IPO that was set to offer 3.5 million shares at between $13 and $15 per share. No explanation was provided. The company had planned to trade on the Nasdaq, with Leerink Partners and Cowen & Co. serving as lead underwriters. Shareholders include Novo AS (28.72% stake), Lundbeckfond Invest (26.88%), Sunstone Life Science Ventures (17.68%), Thomas, McNerney & Partners (14.19%), Seed Capital Denmark (13.21%) and De Novo Ventures (9.72%). www.asantesolutions.com
• Anterios Inc., a New York-based developer of botulinum products for therapeutic and aesthetic applications, has filed for a $57.5 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol ANTE, with Stifel and RBC Capital Markets serving as lead underwriters. Shareholders in the pre-revenue company include Ascent Biomedical Ventures (19% pre-IPO stake), and Scientific Health Development Ltd. (12.2%). www.anteriosinc.com
• CNX Coal Resources LP has filed for a $250 million IPO. The company was recently formed by CONSOL Energy (NYSE: CNX) to manage and further develop its active thermal coal operations in Pennsylvania. It plans to trade on the NYSE under ticker symbol CNXC, with BofA Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo serving as lead underwriters. www.consolenergy.com
• Etsy, a Brooklyn-based homemade crafts marketplace, has set its IPO terms to 16.66 million shares being offered at between $14 and $16 per share. It would have an initial market cap of around $1.66 billion, were it to price in the middle of its range. The company reports a $15.2 million net loss on around $195.5 million in revenue for 2014. Shareholders include Accel Partners (27% pre-IPO stake), Union Square Ventures (15.2%), Index Ventures (12.8%), Tiger Global Management (7.3%), Hubert Burda Media and Glynn Capital Management. Read more.
• Advent International is prepping a sale of French fashion retailer Gerard Darel, according to Bloomberg. The deal could be valued at around €150 million. Read more.
• Apax Partners and OMERS will lose their ownership of Canadian textbook publisher Nelson Education Ltd., which reportedly will be taken over by a group of creditors that include Ares Management, Citigroup, Mudrick Capital Management and Sound Point Capital Management. Read more.
• Centre Lane Partners has sold CLP Towne Inc., a South Bend, Ind.-based full-service trucking provider, to Forward Air Corp. (Nasdaq: FWRD) for $125 million. www.towneair.com
• Rubicon Project Inc. (NYSE: RUBI) has agreed to acquire Chango, a Toronto-based platform for managing real-time data-driven digital advertising. The deal is valued at around US$122 million (including contingent considerations), primarily in stock. Chango has raised over $18 million in VC funding from firms like iNovia, Rho Canada Ventures, Metamorphic Ventures, Mantella Venture Partners and Extreme Venture Partners. www.chango.com
• CipherCloud, a San Jose, Calif.-based provider of cloud visibility and data protection solutions, has acquired the core tech assets of Anicut Systems, a provider of adaptive security-as-a-service. No financial terms were disclosed. CipherCloud has raised $80 million in VC funding from Andreessen Horowitz, T-Venture, Transamerica Ventures and Delta Partners. www.cipercloud.com
• Harman International Inc. (NYSE: HAR) has agreed to acquire the auto-related business of Denmark’s Bang & Olufsen for €145 million. Read more.
• Helen of Troy Ltd. (Nasdaq: HELE) has acquired the Vicks VapoSteam U.S. liquid inhalant business from Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG) for an undisclosed amount. Helen of Troy also purchased a license for Vicks VapoPad trademarks. Read more.
• Mobiquity, a Wellesley, Mass.-based provider of mobile engagement solutions, has acquired Morgan Clark & Co., an Amsterdam-based provider of tech-enabled business consulting. No financial terms were disclosed. Mobiquity has raised $28 million in VC funding from NewSpring Capital, Longworth Venture Partners, Sigma Partners and Thomas Weisel Partners. www.mobiquity.com
• Simon Property Group (NYSE: SPG) has withdrawn its $23.2 billion takeover offer for Macerich (NYSE: MAC), the third-largest U.S. shopping mall owner. Macerich already had rejected the unsolicited bid. Read more.
FIRMS & FUNDS
• Catterton Partners, a Greenwich, Conn.-based private equity firm focused on the consumer sector, is raising $500 million for its first-ever Latin America fund. It will be led by a team of former Eton Park Capital executives. Read more.
• DPI, an Africa-focused private equity firm, has closed its second fund with $725 million in capital commitments. www.dpi-llp.com
• Partech Ventures, a Paris-based VC firm, has raised €60 million for its second seed-stage fund. Read more.
• Stone Arch Capital, a Minneapolis-based private equity firm focused on lower mid-market companies, has closed its third fund with $205 million in capital commitments. www.stonearchcapital.com
MOVING IN, UP, ON & OUT
• Caitlyn MacDonald has stepped down as director of marketing and communications at First Reserve, according to peHUB. She had been with the energy-focused private equity firm since 2007. Read more.
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