Convenient excuse: Cross-border deals between China and the U.S. have been tenuous this year, in large part because of increased regulatory scrutiny from China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange. (The regulatory body has called the recent spree of dealmaking, driven by the weakening reminbi “exuberant.”) That scrutiny has been used as the reason for a number of recently collapsed deals, including LeEco’s $2 billion acquisition of Vizio and Dick Clark Productions’ $1 billion deal with Dalian Wanda.
But it may also be a convenient excuse when Chinese buyers get cold feet, as Variety noted last month. It’s even true of LeEco. It’s no secret that LeEco has been narrowly escaping a serious cash crunch for the last six months and likely faced a hard time lining up financing for the deal. But Vizio losing market share to Samsung last year while also facing FTC scrutiny over privacy controls made matters worse. The deal dragged for months, even though it was clear it would not go through, because if Vizio called it off, it would have lost its shot at getting its breakup fee. The regulators were just one part of the equation.
Ant Financial, however, is not deterred by potential regulatory hurdles. Despite skepticism over whether CFIUS will allow the deal to happen, the Alibaba affiliate has increased its bid for Moneygram by 36% for a bid of $18 a share, or around $1.2 billion cash. (Rival bidder Euronet had bid $15.20 a share.) Reuters notes that Ant likely got Chinese regulators on its side beforehand, given the high-profile nature of the deal. Ant is reportedly planning its own $60 billion IPO later this year.
Damage control: While negative headlines continue to emerge from Uber HQ (most recently: Losing its head of communications, its “Hell” program, a fine over drunk drivers), the company has proactively shared info on one bright spot: Its business. It’s growing! On Friday Bloomberg reported that the company brought in $6.5 billion in revenue last year on $20 billion in gross bookings. It lost $2.8 billion.
Stores: A chilling thought for the retail industry: “Store closures are on pace this year to eclipse the number of stores that closed in the depths of the Great Recession of 2008.” But unlike in 2008, now, unemployment is low and consumer confidence is high. Ecommerce did this, and these stores probably aren’t coming back.
First, this should be troubling for the private equity firms that went big into retail: Apollo with Claire’s, Toys ‘R’ Us with Bain, CVC Capital Partners and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board with Petco. Leonard Green’s Sports Authority already went bankrupt; the firm is also invested in BJ’s, Topshop, Container Store, Jo-Ann Stores, David’s Bridal, Lucky Brand, and J. Crew.
Second, this creates an opportunity for venture capital-backed companies to re-imagine what will happen to these abandoned storefronts, especially in cities short on housing supply. Lastly, savvy retailers and venture-backed e-commerce startups are focusing on ways to use their physical spaces to deepen their relationships with customers in ways that can’t be replicated online, with in-store events. Call it “experiential” commerce.
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• LeanDNA, an Austin, Texas provider of data analytics for manufacturers, raised $4.5 million in Series A funding. Next Coast Ventures led the round.
• Flowhub, a Denver, Colo. compliance platform for the cannabis industry, raised $3.3 million in Series A funding. Green Lion Partners and Phyto Partners led the round.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Carlyle Group (Nasdaq:CG) has acquired the remaining 10% stake in didn’t already own in Twin Set, an Italian fashion brand, from founder Simona Barbieri. Read more.
• Beekman Investment Partners acquired certain assets from AMC Entertainment (NYSE:AMC) and Carmike Cinemas. The firm will combine these assets to form New Vision Theaters, a movie theatre operator.
• Blackstone Energy agreed to acquire EagleClaw Midstream Ventures, a midstream operator in the Permian’s Delaware Basin in West Texas, for approximately $2 billion, including debt.
• H.I.G. Capital invested in Phoenix-based Barnet Dulaney Perkins and Mesa, Arizona-based Southwestern Eye Center. Both are eyecare practices that provide surgical and clinical ophthalmic care.
• Foxconn has approached Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL) to support its bid for Toshiba’s (TSE:6502) chip business, according to the Financial Times. Read more (subscription required).
• S P Setia (KLSE:SPSETIA), a Malaysian property developer, agreed to buy rival I&P for over 3.5 billion ringgit ($795 million), according to Reuters. Read more.
• Jared Kushner, a senior advisor to (and son-in-law of) President Donald Trump, is in talks to sell his stake in WiredScore, a New York real estate technology company, according to the Wall Street Journal. Kushner previously disclosed the investment is worth between $5 million and $25 million. Read more.
• Anbang Insurance Group’s agreement to acquire Fidelity & Guaranty Life (NYSE:FGL) for $1.6 billion has fallen through, according to Reuters. Read more.
• Ant Financial, a Chinese mobile payment services company, raised its offer to acquire MoneyGram (Nasdaq: MGI) from $13.25 per share to $18 per share in order to fend off competing bids. The new deal, which has been approved by MoneyGram's board, values the company's common and preferred stock at $1.2 billion.
• Walmart (NYSE:WMT) is in late-stage talks to acquire Bonobos, a New York-based ecommerce men’s clothing apparel company, according to Recode. Bonobos raised $55 million in funding at a $300 million valuation in 2014. Read more at Fortune.
• Cloudera, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based data management and analytics software platform, is seeking to raise $195 million by offering 15 million shares priced between $12 and $14 per share, according to Renaissance Capital. It plans to trade on the NYSE under the ticker symbol CLDR. Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, Allen & Company, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citi and Deutsche Bank serve as joint bookrunners on the deal. Shareholders include Intel (22% pre-IPO stake) Accel Partners (16.3%), Greylock Partners (12.5%). Read more.
• Emerald Expositions Events, a San Juan Capistrano, Calif.-based operator of b2b trade shows owned by Onex (TSX:ONEX), is seeking to raise $295 million in an initial offering by offering 15.5 million shares priced between $18 to $20 per share. The company plans to trade on the NYSE under the ticker symbol EEX. Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Goldman Sachs, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and RBC Capital Markets serve as joint bookrunners on the deal.
• Floor & Decor Holdings, a Smyrna, Ga.-based hard surface flooring retailer, is seeking to raise $150 million in an initial offering by offering 8.8 million shares priced between $16 per $18 per share. The company plans to trade on the NYSE under the ticker symbol FND. Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Credit Suisse, UBS Investment Bank, Goldman Sachs, Jefferies, Piper Jaffray and Wells Fargo Securities serve as joint bookrunners on the deal. Ares Capital (NYSE:ARES) and Freeman Spogli & Co own 62.5% and 30.3% of total shares outstanding, respectively.
• G1 Therapeutics, a Research Triangle Park, N.C. clinical-stage biotech company, filed to raise up to $115 million in an initial public offering. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol GTHX. J.P. Morgan, Cowen & Company, Needham & Co. and Wedbush Securities are the joint bookrunners on the deal. Shareholders Hatteras Venture Partners (19.8% pre-IPO stake), MedImmune Ventures (16.7%), Eshelman Ventures (15.4%), RA Capital (10.7%), and Lumira Capital (7%).
• Leonard Green & Partners agreed to acquire Charter NEX Films, a Milton, Wis.-based manufacturer of specialty films for the food and medical industries, for $1.5 billion, including debt, according to Reuters. The seller was Pamplona Capital Management. Read more.
• Crown Castle International (NYSE:CCI) agreed to acquire Wilcon Holdings, a service provider, for $600 million for Pamlico Capital.
• The Blackstone Group (NYSE:BX) agreed to acquire Ascend Learning, a Burlington, Mass.-based maker of educational software, from Providence Equity Partners. Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but previous reports value the deal at north of $2 billion.
• VMware (NYSE: VMW), has agreed to acquire Wavefront, a metrics monitoring service for the cloud. Terms were not disclosed. Wavefront raised $65 million in funding from investors including Tenaya Capital and Sequoia Capital.
FIRMS + FUNDS
• The Riverside Company, a New York-based private equity firm, raised $418 million for its first non-control investment fund, Riverside Strategic Capital Fund.
• The state of Rhode Island hired Alec Stais to oversee its $7.9 billion pension firm. Stais is a former managing director at Goldman Sachs Asset Management.
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