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Richard Branson’s Virgin empire is out for cash

May 15, 2020, 2:16 PM UTC

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Pressed on all sides by the coronavirus pandemic, the travel-focused Virgin Group diaspora is scrambling to raise cash.

Virgin Atlantic, the U.K.-based airliner majority-owned by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, is reportedly in talks to raise some $916 million from Deutsche Bank and others as the virus razes travel. 

It follows on the heels of other Virgin Group subsidiaries in the fiefdom in damage control mode: Virgin Australia Holdings has received bids from potential buyers including Brookfield, Bain Capital, and BGH Capital after filing for bankruptcy protection last month, per reports. Subsidiary Vieco 10 meanwhile said earlier this week that it may sell up to 25 million (worth about $400 million) of its shares in space travel company Virgin Galactic to support its leisure and holiday businesses. Branson himself has gone as far as to put his private island up as collateral.

Branson has cultivated something of a daredevil image with his high-flying stunts and broken world records, his ownership of a private Carribean island only adding to the package of an eccentric and glitzy billionaire. Now that same persona is a reason for hesitation among governments being asked for aid from the Virgin companies.

Notably, Virgin Atlantic is still negotiating with the British government for rescue funding, while Australia refused to provide financial aid to Virgin Australia over concerns that it amounted to a bailout of its foreign owners.

Private equity under a spotlight: U.S. department store chain J.C. Penney is expected to file for bankruptcy protection as early as today, following on the likes of other large clothing retailers J. Crew and Neiman Marcus struggling to pivot to e-commerce as shoppers stay off the streets during the pandemic coronavirus. J.C. Penney is reportedly in talks to secure $450 million from existing lenders for the potential filing.

The spate of retail bankruptcies could also put more public and political pressure on the private equity firms that back them, as this New York Times piece points out. Certainly the coronavirus has been unkind to most of retail, but concerns that some private equity firms placed too much debt on these companies, badly preparing them for a downturn, persist.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda
Email: lucinda.shen@fortune.com

VENTURE DEALS

- DigitalOcean, a New York-based cloud for developing apps, raised $50 million in Series C funding. Access Industries led the round, and was joined by investors including Andreessen Horowitz.

- Commsat, a Chinese commercial satellite company, raised RMB270 million ($38.1 million) in Series B funding. Beijing Wealth Capital led the round and was joined by investors including AVIC Capital. Read more.

- Immunai, a New York-based company mapping the immune system, raised $20 million in seed funding. Viola Ventures and TLV Partners invested.

- Envoy, a San Francisco-based workplace management platform maker, raised $30 million in funding from TriplePoint Capital.

- Homeward, an Austin-based lender to homebuyers, raised $20 million in funding from Adams Street Partners. Read more.

- Liongard, a Houston-based automation software company, raised $17 million in Series B funding. Updata Partners led the round and was joined by investors including TDF Ventures and Integr8d Capital. 

- Deep Labs, a San Francisco-based AI decisioning and risk systems maker, raised an initial $16 million in funding. Serendipity Capital, Gramercy Ventures, and Gunnar Overstrom are among the investors.

-Rebag, a New York-based platform for buying and selling luxury handbags, raised $15 million in a Series D funding. Novator led the round and was joined by investors including  General Catalyst

- Neo Medical, a Swiss medtech company developing solutions for spinal surgery, raised CHF 13.2 million ($13.4 million) in funding. 4FO Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Credit Suisse Entrepreneur Capital and Investiere.

- Span, a San Francisco, Calif-based smart panel company, raised $10.2 million in Series A funding. ArcTern Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Capricorn Investment Group and Incite Ventures.

- Envelop Risk, a Bristol, U.K.-based underwriting and risk analytics company, raised $6 million in Series A funding. Alpha Intelligence Capital led the round and was joined by investors including MS Amlin and Dymon Asia Ventures.

- GoodWork, a Philippines-based home services e-commerce platform, raised $1.6 million in seed funding. Chaac Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Elysium Venture Capital, Kairos K50, and angel investors.

- Ettitude, a Los Angeles-based direct-to-consumer startup making sustainable bedding and sleepwear, raised $1.6 million in funding from Drumbeat Ventures and TA Ventures.

- Xona Space Systems, a San Mateo-based satellite services company, raised $1 million in “pre-seed” funding. 1517 led the round and was joined by investors including Seraphim Capital, Trucks Venture Capital, and Stellar Solutions

PRIVATE EQUITY

- Single Digits, backed by GI Partners, acquired Inviacom, a Charlotte, N.C.-based  provider of Wi-Fi for senior living communities. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

OTHERS

- Apple acquired NextVR, an AR and VR company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Tikehau Capital entered into exclusive negotiations to acquire Star America Infrastructure Partners, an independent asset management company specializing in mid-market infrastructure in North America. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Goldman Sachs Group (GS:NYSE) plans to acquire Folio Financiala boutique wealth management custodian and technology company, per Reuters. Read more.

- Venafi agreed to acquire Jetstack, an London-based open source machine identity protection software for Kubernetes and cloud native ecosystems. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

IPOS

- Jaws Acquisition, a Miami Beach, Fla.-based blank check company founded by Starwood Capital founder Barry Sternlicht and Brown University endowment CEO Joseph Dowling, now plans to raise $600 million via an IPO. It previously sought to raise $400 million. The company plans to acquire a business outside of real estate and lodging, as well as oil and gas and energy infrastructure. Read more.

- ADC Therapeutics SA, a Switzerland-based biotech focused on antibody therapies for cancer, raised $233 million in an offering of 12.2 million shares priced at $19 apiece. It posted revenue of $2.3 million and losses of $116.5 million in 2018. Auven Therapeutics (42.8% pre-offering) and AstraZeneca (7.1%) back the firm. It plans to list on the NYSE as “ADCT.” Read more.

- Calliditas Therapeutics, a Stockholm-based biotech developing therapies for kidney disease, filed for a $75 million IPO. It posted sales of $184.8 million in 2019 and a loss of $32.6 million. Stiftelsen Industrifonden (14.9% pre-offering), Linc (12.5%), and Investinor (10.7%) back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “CALT.” Read more.

EXITS

- Deutsche Bank is weighing the sale of its German online bank Norisbank, per Reuters citing sources. Read more.

- BT Group is in talks to sell a multi-billion pound stake in subsidiary Openreach, per the Financial Times. Read more.

- AppLovin, backed by KKR, agreed to acquire Machine Zone, a developer of mobile games including Game of War: Fire Age. Y Combinator Management, Anthos Capital, Menlo Ventures Management and JPMorgan Chase backed Machine Zone. JPMorgan will remain invested. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Microsoft will acquire Metaswitch Networks, a U.K.-based maker of virtualized network software and voice, data, and communications solutions for operators. Francisco Partners backs Metaswitch. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

F+FS

- Blackstone raised $4.2 billion for its fifth life sciences fund. Read more.

Rubicon Technology Partners closed Rubicon Technology Partners III at over $1.25 billion.

- Leeds Equity Partners is seeking to raise $1 billion for its seventh fund. Read more.

Fintop Capital closed FINTOP Fund II with $126 million.

- Novastar Ventures closed $108 million in new commitments to launch its Africa Fund II. Read more.

- Mantis, a firm formed by musician group the Chainsmokers, plans to invest $50 million in startups. Read more.

- The National Basketball Association tapped Neuberger Berman’s Dyal Capital Partners to raise a fund that will acquire minority interests in teams in the league, per Bloomberg. Read more.

PEOPLE

- Conversion Capital named former Blend CTO and Co-founder Eugene Marinelli as a partner.

- HKW named Jeff Bistrong as a partner. He previously led the Technology, Media & Telecom Group at Harris Williams