Skip to Content

Term Sheet — Friday, October 23

Random Ramblings

Greetings from the home office, where I’m in the stretch run before taking a bit of vacation at the beginning of November (don’t worry, @eringriffith will be filling in Nov. 2-4). Some items to lead us into the weekend:

• Transfer restrictions: There is an interesting lawsuit brewing in Delaware Chancery Court, related to a mezzanine and private equity investment firm called Capital Point Partners. The basic story appears to go like this:

Capital Point Partners is a Houston-based firm led by Alfred Jackson, who happens to be a former wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons. Back in March, the firm sold the portfolio assets from its two funds to Princeton Capital Corp. (f.k.a. Regal One Corp.), a publicly-traded business development company where Jackson serves as chairman. In a press release announcing the deal, Princeton Capital’s CEO Munish Sood said that it would “provide a larger asset base that is anticipated to enhance the company’s future growth.”

Only trouble is that Capital Point Partners does not seem to have gotten permission from its limited partners for the transfer. Last month the LPs voted to boot Jackson and his colleagues, and instead installed a Massachusetts firm called Sema4 Inc. as general partner. One day later it filed suit in Delaware, asking for the asset transfer to be reversed.

The complaining LPs represent an 81.59% interest in the relevant funds, having contributed more than $66 million. They include public pensions in New Mexico, Seattle, Little Rock, Austin, New York City and Detroit.

The court already has upheld the GP swap, but has not yet ruled on the transaction reversal. Princeton Capital has not yet filed its legal response, and members of Princeton and CCP have not yet responded to requests for comment from Fortune.

The big question I want to ask them, of course, is why they made the original transfer (let alone without permission, allegedly). One argument could be that it helped secure liquidity/accelerate returns for Jackson and company — although it hasn’t been great for LPs, as the stock has dropped from a high of $2.70 per share just after the transaction, to just $0.51 per share as of this writing.

Mark DiSalvo, president and CEO of Sema4, declined to comment when contacted via email.

• Public personality: GoPro CEO Nick Woodman was among the speakers at a private tech event I attended earlier this week, and he talked about how glad he was that his action camera company had gone public (despite its recent stock troubles). Woodman added that the IPO came despite many people warning him against it:

“People kept telling be that I’d hate it from a public-facing point of view, and that it would all be a giant distraction,” Woodman explained. “But what I realized was that all of the people telling me that were introverts. I think going on TV and that of stuff is kind of fun. The extra work is really for the CFO and the finance and legal departments.” (Read more)

• Real estate play: The blood feud between Theranos and the Wall Street Journal seems to show no signs of abating, with the $9 billion biotech company yesterday releasing a more detailed refutation of the paper’s charges.

But there is at least one way in which Theranos is literally on top of the WSJ: Its new headquarters is at 1701 Page Mill Rd. in Palo Alto, which previously spent 45 years as the WSJ‘s primary facility in Northern California. You can read more here.

• Okay, I never do this… but: One of you sent in an anonymous tip yesterday that was of particular interest. Key words are “founders shares.” Please get back in touch, whoever you are, even via an anonymous email. I’d like to chat…

• Have a great weekend. Go Pats!


• Naspers (South Africa) said that it will increase its stake in Russian classifieds site Avito from 17.4% to 67.9%, via a $1.2 billion investment. Sellers include Accel Partners and Baring Vostok, which originally co-led a $75 million investment in Avito three years ago. Read more.


• Numerify, a Cupertino, Calif.-based provider of cloud-based business IT analytics, has raised $37.5 million in Series C funding. Tenaya Capital led the round, and was joined by Silicon Valley Bank, Four Rivers Group and return backers Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

• Poynt, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based maker of point-of-sale retail checkout terminals that can accept both credit cards and mobile devices, has raised $28 million in Series B funding. Oak HC/FT led the round, and was joined by the Stanford-StartX Fund. Read more.

• Off Grid Electric, a solar leasing platform in Africa (beginning with Tanzania), has raised $25 million in Series C funding. DBL Partners led the round, and was joined by Western Technology Investment, Tope Lawani (founder of Helios Investment Partners), SolarCity, Omidyar Network, Serious Change LP and Vulcan Capital.

• Sequana Medical AG, a Swiss developer of an implantable pump systems that manage excess fluid within the body, has raised CHF 9 million ($9.3m) in new Series C funding. Salus Partners and Quest for Growth were joined by return backers NeoMed Management, VI Partners, Biomed Invest, Capricorn Health-tech Fund, Entrepreneurs Fund and Life Science Partners.

• IntelliCyt Corp., an Albuquerque, N.M.-based provider of platforms to accelerate drug discovery, has raised $5.4 million in new equity funding. Arboretum Ventures led the round, and was joined by fellow return backers Prolog Ventures, Verge Fund, and New Mexico Community Capital. The company also secured a $2 million debt facility from Oxford Finance.

• Allay, a San Francisco-based HR and benefits platform for insurance brokers and agents, has raised $3.4 million in seed funding. BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by by Sandbox Industries, 500 Startups, Arnold Capital and individual angels.

• Simility, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor of fraud prevention solutions, has raised $3.45 million in seed funding led by Accel Partners.

• Jifiti, a Columbus, Ohio-based provider of ecommerce gifting solutions, has raised $3.3 million in new VC funding. Liberty Israel Venture Fund was joined by return backers Schottenstein Store Corp., Jesselson Investments Ltd., Simon Property Group and Stephen Milstein (founder of Burlington Coat).

• Outlearn, a Boston-based cloud publishing platform and curated content catalog for professional developer learning, has raised $2 million in seed funding from General Catalyst Partners and Paul Sagan.

• AMPY, a Chicago-based maker of a wearable motion-charger for smartphones, has raised $875,000 in seed funding led by Clean Energy Trust and NewGen Ventures.

• SmartSky Networks LLC, a Charlotte, N.C.-based developer of 4G air-to-ground communication systems, has raised an undisclosed amount of private equity funding from Tiger Infrastructure Partners, Meritage Funds and Platform Partners.


• Apax Partners has acquired AssuredPartners, a Lake Mary, Fla.-based property and casualty insurance broker, from GTCR.

• Berkshire Partners has acquired a majority stake in Affordable Care Inc., a Raleigh, N.C.-based support organization for affiliated dental practices that focus exclusively on tooth replacement services, from American Capital Equity. No financial terms were disclosed.

• Driven Brands Inc., a Charlotte-based automotive aftermarket franchising platform whose brands include Meineke and Maaco, has acquired Carstar Auto Body Repair Experts, a Kansas City-based chain of collision repair facilities, from Champlain Capital Partners. No financial terms were disclosed. Driven Brands is a portfolio company of Roark Capital Group.

• Four Seasons Health Care Group, a UK care homes operator owned by Terra Firma Capital Partners, has retained PJT Partners to conduct a review of its £513.7 million in debt, according to Dow Jones. Read more.

• Terra Firma Capital Partners said that it will repurchase the 31.5% stake in Infinis Energy PLC that it does not currently own, two years after taking the British renewable energy generation company public. The deal will be done at 185 pence per share (£555m valuation), or around a 40% premium to Wednesday’s closing price. Read more.

• Woolworths Ltd. (ASX: WOW) has received preliminary takeover approaches from private equity firms Blackstone Group, KKR and TPG Capital, according to Bloomberg. A deal could value the Australian retailer at around A$1.5 billion. Read more.


No IPO news this morning.


• SnapAV, a Charlotte, N.C.-based portfolio company of General Atlantic, has acquired SunBrite Holding Corp., a Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based maker of outdoor TV displays and digital signage solutions, from Bunker Hill Capital. No financial terms were disclosed.


• China National Chemical Corp. is in talks to buy between a 10% and 20% stake in Cyprus-based energy trading firm Mercuria Energy Group Ltd., according to Bloomberg. The move comes after deal talks between Mercuria Energy and The Blackstone Group proved fruitless. Read more.

• Lexmark International Inc. (NYSE: LXK) has hired Goldman Sachs to explore strategic alternatives, including a possible sale. The Lexington, Ky.-based printer and enterprise software maker had a market cap of around $1.9 billion prior to the report. Read more.

• Liberty Global (Nasdaq: LBTY.A) reportedly is in talks to acquire Cable & Wireless Communications (LSE: CWC), in a deal that could be valued north of $5 billion and expand John Malone’s company into markets like the Caribbean. Read more.

• Nitro, a San Francisco-based document productivity company, has acquired DoxIQ, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based company that helps turn “marketing documents into intelligent web assets.” No financial terms were disclosed. Nitro has raised $21.6 million in VC funding from firms like Battery Ventures and Starfish Ventures.

• REX Global Entertainment (HK: 164) has acquired a 64.9% stake in Yota Devices, a Russian maker of dual-screened Android smartphones, from Telconet Capital for $100 million. Read more.

• TeliaSonera AB (Oslo: TLSN) is considering the sale of debt collection unit Sergel Kredittjanster AB, according to Bloomberg. The deal could be valued at around €300 million, with possible suitors including Intrum Justitia AB and Lindorff (owned by Nordic Capital). Read more..

• TreeHouse Foods (NYSE: THS) is in “advanced talks” to acquire Ralcorp, the private label unit of ConAgra Foods (NYSE: CAG), according to Reuters. The deal could be worth between $2.5 billion and $2.7 billion, and comes after ConAgra originally considered selling Ralcorp to private equity or breaking it up. Read more.


• J.F. Lehman & Co., a New York-based private equity firm focused on the middle markets, is raising its fourth fund, according to a regulatory filing.

• Sequoia Capital is raising new U.S. and global growth equity funds, according to regulatory filings.


• Eight Roads Ventures (f.k.a. Fidelity Growth Partners) has made two hires in London: Michael Stephanblome (co-founder, ex-CEO of Typeless) as a venture partner, and Lucile Cornet (ex-Summit Partners) as a senior associate.

• Eric Fry has joined Lindsay Goldberg as a partner. He previously was a managing director in Morgan Stanley’s global private equity group.

• Takudzwa Mutasa has joined KKR as a London-based principal focused on investment opportunities in Africa. He previously was with Development Partners International and, before that, Citigroup. Read more.

Share today’s Term Sheet: