Greetings from Carlsbad, where I’m in town for Fortune Brainstorm E, our annual conference on the convergence of energy, technology and sustainability.
We’ll be live-streaming at Fortune.com beginning at 2pm PT, including my 4:4opm interview with Afsaneh Beschloss (CEO of Rock Creek Group, former CIO for The World Bank). Now some assorted notes as the local sun rises…
• It gets uglier: Hugo Van Vuuren has filed suit against former Xfund partner Patrick Chung and the Xfund management company, based on the conflict we first detailed earlier this month. We’ve also obtained an email sent earlier this morning from Van Vuuren to Xfund’s limited partners, telling them of his legal action.
I’m still working through the complaint, filed late Friday in California (and I’ve yet to successfully contact Chung or his PR reps), but here are the items that jump out as particularly notable:
* Van Vurren is suing for a variety of causes, including fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and defamation.
* Van Vuuren is disputing Chung’s deal attribution claims, as laid out in the March temporary restraining order request (which was subsequently withdrawn). Specificially, Van Vuuren says in his complaint that all of Xfund II’s portfolio appreciation has come via the Experiment Fund portfolio that was acquired at fund inception, more than 85% of which is attributed directly to Kensho. This is likely to come down to a sourcing vs. vetting discussion, as there is no dispute that Van Vuuren basically sourced all of the Experiment Fund deals, including Kensho. Chung, however, was a member of the Experiment Fund’s investment committee and tasked with vetting many of the companies. At the very least, however, this does call into question the near uniformity among Xfund II LPs I spoke with, when they told me that Chung had a demonstrated track record whereas Van Vuuren did not.
* There have been lots of questions as to why Van Vuuren would have signed away his equal “vote” in fund investment and personnel matters, or at least over his apparent negligence in not reading what he was signing. Van Vuuren basically claims that he and Chung had wanted to create a 10% “carry pool” for future employees and that, while Van Vuuren was tending to a family matter in South Africa, Chung emailed him saying that law firm Ropes & Gray had drawn up the docs to do just that (in part because Xfund wanted to hire someone), attached the revised docs to his email and asked Van Vuuren to sign. Per the complaint, Chung allegedly did not mention that the docs also included governance changes that would give Chung a “tie-breaker” in disputes with Van Vuuren.
* Van Vuuren alleges that Chung installed a hidden camera in Xfund offices (which reside within New Enterprise Associates’ Sand Hill Road digs) to record meetings, including with Xfund limited partners.
* In his letter this morning to LPs, Van Vuuren wrote, in part: “Since December 2015 I have tried to resolve these issues with multiple settlement proposals. Unfortunately, my co-founder has rejected many proposals and most recently simply failed to respond. Consequently, on advice of counsel, and after exhausting all other options, I am now taking legal action.”
• iHail: Two follow-up thoughts on Apple’s $1 billion investment in Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing: (1) As an emailer points out, the deal is actually a bit cheaper for Apple than it appears at first glance, as it represents a way for the California company to utilize some of its “stuck” overseas cash; (2) Apple CEO Tim Cook is in China today, and there is an argument to be made that the Didi investment largely is designed to better ingratiate the company with local regulators.
• He’s a Slacker: Late last year, workplace collaboration “unicorn” Slack announced the creation of an $80 million venture capital fund that would invest in software startups that compliment its technology. Now comes word that Jason Spinell, former head of venture investing at (now defunct) consulting firm Undercurrent, has joined Slack to help manage and invest the fund, per Spinell’s LinkedIn account.
• Long run: James Geshwiler is moving on from Converge Venture Partners (f.k.a. CommonAngels), the Boston-based venture capital firm where he has been a managing director for the past 17 years. No word yet on his future plans.
• Oops: A Delaware judge on Friday ruled that T. Rowe Price cannot sue Dell Inc. over its 2013 take-private buyout, because the mutual fund manager mistakenly voted in favor of the controversial deal.
T. Rowe had been seeking an “appraisal” of its old Dell stock, which it had consistently said were being undervalued by the $13.75 per share take-private. Only trouble is that such appraisals only are granted to shareholders that do not vote in favor of the deal ― and T. Rowe essentially pressed the wrong button. The firm says that it is continuing to review its legal options.
THE BIG DEAL
• Taobao Mobile, an online movie ticketing platform unit of Alibaba Group’s film and television subsidiary (Alibaba Pictures), has raised around $250 million in Series A funding. Backers include Ant Financial (also an Alibaba affiliate), CDH Investments, Sina.com, Hehe Pictures, BONA Film and Huace Media. Read more.
VENTURE CAPITAL DEALS
• DalCor Pharmaceuticals, a Montreal-based developer of cardiovascular disease treatments that genetically targets patients, has raised US$100 million in Series B funding. Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, the Fonds de solidarité FTQ and CTI Life Sciences were joined by return backers Sanderling Ventures and André Desmarais. The company previously raised $50 million. www.dalcorpharma.com
• Bridge2 Solutions, an Alpharetta, Ga.-based SaaS platform for the loyalty and rewards industry, has raised $35 million in equity funding from Updata Partners. www.bridge2solutions.com
• AtScale Inc., a San Francisco-based self-service business intelligence platform for Hadoop, has raised $11 million in Series B funding. Comcast Ventures led the round, and was joined by UMC, AME Ventures, Storm Ventures and XSeed Capital. www.atscale.com
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Apollo Global Management and Cinven are among those weighing bids for Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.’s (NYSE: TEVA) generic drug portfolio in the UK, Ireland and Iceland, according to Bloomberg. The deal could be worth between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, with Mylan NV and Novartis also expected to have interest. Greenhill & Co. is managing the process. Read more.
• Beacon Rail Leasing, a UK-based portfolio company of Pamplona Capital Management, has agreed to acquire Ascendos Rail Leasing SARL, a Luxembourg-based locomotive and rolling stock leasing company. No financial terms were disclosed. www.beaconrail.com
• Bolder Healthcare Solutions, a Louisville, Ky.-based portfolio company of Edgewater Funds, has acquired Prospective Payment Specialists Inc., an El Segundo, Calif.-based provider of medical coding and revenue cycle solutions to hospitals and other healthcare facilities. No financial terms were disclosed. www.bolderhealthcare.com
• General Atlantic is the “frontrunner” in an auction to acquire a control stake in London-based energy media company Argus Media, according to the FT. The deal could value Argus at around £950 million. Read more.
• Mazarine Energy, a Tunisia-focused oil and gas exploration company, has secured $500 million equity commitment from The Carlyle Group. Read more.
• Tanos Energy, a Tyler, Texas-based oil and gas exploration and production company, has acquired around 40,000 net acres in East Texas and North Louisiana from ConocoPhillips Co. (NYSE: COP) and Fidelity Exploration and Production Co. In conjunction with the deal, Tanos said that existing backer Quantum Energy Partners has increased its equity commitment to $500 million. www.tanosexp.com
• BOC Aviation, an aircraft leasing subsidiary of Bank of China, reportedly has secured $1.1 billion in investor commitments for its upcoming IPO, from backers that include Boeing, China Investment Corp. and Silk Road. Read more.
• ConvaTec Inc., a Luxembourg-based medical device company owned by Avista Capital Partners and Nordic Capital, is speaking to banks about a London IPO that could raise more than $1 billion, according to Reuters. Read more.
• Oncobiologics, a Cranbury, N.J.-based developer of biosimilar therapeutics, raised $35 million in its IPO. The company priced 5.8 million shares at $6 per share (it had originally planned to price at between $11-$13 per share), for an initial market cap of around $137 million. It will trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol ONS, while Jefferies and Barclays served as lead underwriters. Oncobiologics had raised over $43 million in VC funding, from firms like Perceptive Advisors,Cormorant Global Healthcare Master Fund, Longwood Capital Partners, venBio Select Fund, Proximare Lifesciences Fund, OSSB Pharma Fund and MIH Fund. www.oncobiologics.com
• US Foods, an Illinois-based foodservice giant, has set its IPO terms to 44.44 million shares being offered at between $21 and $24 per share. It would have an initial market cap of around $4.8 billion, were it to price in the middle of its range. It plans to trade on the NYSE under ticker symbol USFD, with Goldman Sachs listed as left lead underwriter. The company reports $168 million of net income on $23.13 billion in revenue for fiscal 2015. US Foods was acquired by KKR and Clayton Dubilier & Rice for $7.1 billion in 2007, and currently carries around $5 billion of debt. www.usfoods.com
• Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCS) has acquired StickyAds.tv, a French provider of instream video advertising solutions. No financial terms were disclosed, but BusinessInsider reports a sale price in excess of $100 million. StickAds.tv had raised over $6 million in VC funding from firms like Ventech. Read more.
• Indiegogo has acquired the assets of Celery, a San Francisco-based platform for creating “pre-order” sites. No financial terms were disclosed. Indiegogo has raised over $50 million in VC funding from firms like ff Venture Capital, IVP, Insight Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins, Metamorphic Ventures and MS Capital. Celery had raised around $2 million from Y Combinator, Boost VC, SV Angel, Elementum Ventures, the Wharton Venture Initiation Program and Max Levchin. Read more.
• Renaissance Acquisition Holdings LLC, a Lake Forest, Ill.-based portfolio company of RoundTable Healthcare Partners, has agreed to sell its topical pharma business to Mylan NV (Nasdaq: MYL) for up to $1 billion (including $950m in cash at closing). www.renaissanceah.com
• Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical has offered to acquire Gland Pharma, an Indian injectable drug-maker owned by KKR. No financial terms were disclosed, but Gland reportedly could be valued at around $1.5 billion. Read more.
• Anheuser-Busch InBev has agreed to sell its Panamanian business to Brazilian brewer Ambev SA for Ambev’s Colombia, Peru and Ecuador business. The deal is contingent on the completion of InBev’s merger with SABMiller. www.inbev.com
• Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) has agreed to acquire Palo Alto, Calif.-based Anacor Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq: ANAC) for approximately $4.5 billion in cash ($5.2 billion including debt), or $99.25 per share (55% premium over Friday’s closing price). Read more.
• Playboy Enterprises has hired Moelis & Co. to find a buyer, according to the WSJ. A deal could be worth more than $500 million. Read more.
• Sirius XM Canada Holdings (TSX: XSR) has agreed to be acquired for around C$472 million, or C$4.50 per share (6.4% premium over Thursday’s closing price), by its largest shareholder, SiriusXM Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: SIRI). Also participating on the deal are Slaight Communications Inc. and Obelysk Media. Read more.
• Terex (NYSE: TEX), a Westport, Conn.-based maker of cranes and construction machinery, said that it will terminate a $3.3 billion merger with Finland’s Konecranes (Helsinki: KCR1V), and instead will sell its material handling and port solutions business to Konecranes for $1.3 billion. Read more.
FIRMS & FUNDS
• DAO, a leaderless investment group that uses the Bitcoin-inspired platform Ethereum, has raised more than $100 million in cryptocurrency, which it will use to support sharing economy projects and companies. Read more.
MOVING IN, ON & UP
• Brian Miner has joined Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP as a Washington, D.C.-based partner in the firm’s M&A and private equity practice. He previously was a partner at Reed Smith. www.friedfrank.com
• Don More has joined JMP Securities as a New York-based managing director of investment banking, with a focus on the cybersecurity sector. He previously led cybersecurity M&A for Signal Hill. www.jmpg.com
• Catherine Mountjoy has joined the College of William & Mary as director of investments. She previously spent more than 11 years as a partner with Altius Associates. www.wm.edu
• Francesca Wuttke has joined Merck’s global health innovation fund as a Spain-based managing director of principal investments in Europe. She previously was with Almirall and, before that, Novartis. www.merck.com
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