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Wilbur Ross adds to the SPAC craze

February 3, 2021, 3:37 PM UTC

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Maybe the real question is, who isn’t raising a blank check company?

Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Donald Trump, Wilbur Ross, is backing a blank check company that is seeking to raise some $300 million. While Ross will be CEO, former Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow will serve as director.

Dubbed Ross Acquisition II, the special purpose acquisition company is seeking to acquire a company that does most of its business in North America, Europe, or Asia. 

While the SPAC is open to investing in all sectors, it did pinpoint a handful of areas where it’s hoping to begin:

  • Automotive: Electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles
  • Energy: Storage, renewables and energy efficiency
  • Manufacturing: Automation/robotics, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, 3D printing and smart factory
  • Materials: Chemicals, advanced materials and sustainable materials
  • Semiconductor
  • Transportation: Data analytics, digital trade and alternative fuels
  • Space: Remote sensing and space traffic management

The SPAC’s backers add to a list of former politicians and officials who have gotten into the field, including former House Speaker Paul Ryan and former director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn.

This isn’t Ross’ first SPAC. Before his time in Trump’s cabinet, Ross founded distressed private equity shop WL Ross & Co. His previous SPAC, WL Ross Holding, merged in 2016 with Nexeo Solutions, a chemicals and plastics company.

ANOTHER STOCK TRADING APP RAISES: The GameStop saga appears to have led to a surge in interest around stock trading apps, with Robinhood leading the pack. Now as Robinhood raises some $3.4 billion over the course of a week to match collateral demands from its clearinghouse, another stock-trading app is raising a mega round. Stash is set to announce a $125 million round of funding that will value it around $1.4 billion, per CNBC. Eldridge led the round and was joined by investors including T. Rowe Price.

A NEW OUTLOOK FOR TECH: It’s a wild time for technology. Join our roster of speakers alongside my colleague Aaron Pressman and me on February 11 to discuss the new age

The first session on this New Era for Product Development will begin at 1 p.m. ET with speakers such as Mike Maresca (Global Chief Technology Officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance), Stephen Ward (Chief Information Security Officer, The Home Depot), and Haiyan Zhang (Chief of Staff, Xbox, Microsoft).

The Tech You Need (and Don’t) in 2021 will begin at 2 p.m. ET, featuring Emily Heath (Chief Trust and Security Officer, DocuSign), Jesse Levinson (Co-founder, Zoox), and John Roese (Global Chief Technology Officer, Dell Technologies).

To join, apply here.

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

VENTURE DEALS

- Vivino, a San Francisco-based maker of e-commerce wine marketplace, raised $155 million in Series D funding. Kinnevik led the round and was joined by investors including Sprints Capital, GP BullHound, and Creandum.

- Zetwerk, a Bangalore-based marketplace for businesses to find manufacturing items, raised rs. 880 crore ($120 million) in Series D funding. Greenoaks Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners led the round and were joined by Sequoia Capital India and Kae Capital.

- Divvy Homes, a San Francisco-based rent-to-own company focused on homes, raised $110 million in Series C funding. Tiger Global Management led the round and was joined by investors including GGV Capital, Moore Specialty Credit, and JAWS Ventures. Read more.

-Good Eggs, a San Francisco-based online marketplace for delivery high-end groceries, raised $100 million in funding. Glade Brook Capital Partners led the round and was joined by investors including GV, Tao Invest, Finistere Ventures, and Rich’s, Benchmark Partners, Index Ventures, S2G, DNS Capital, and Obvious Ventures.

- Tealium, a San Diego-based customer data analysis company, raised $96 million in Series G funding. Georgian and Silver Lake Waterman led the round, valuing the business at $1.2 billion.

- Touchcast, a New York-based virtual events platform, raised $55 million in Series A funding. Investors included Accenture Ventures, Alexander Capital Ventures, Saatchi Invest, and Ronald Lauder.

- Leadspace, a San Francisco-based customer data analysis platform, raised $46 million. JVP led the round.

- Granulate, a Tel Aviv-based provider of computing workload optimization, raised $30 million in Series B funding. Red Dot Capital Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Insight Partners, TLV Partners, and Hetz Ventures.

- Alma, a New York-based network for mental health care providers, raised $28 million in Series B funding. Insight Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Optum Ventures, Tusk Venture Partners, Primary Venture Partners, Sound Ventures, BoxGroup, and Rainfall Ventures. 

- Evinced, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based accessibility software company, raised $17 million in funding. M12, BGV, and Capital One Ventures led the round and were joined by Engineering Capital. 

- Casana, a Rochester, N.Y.-based in-home health monitoring company, raised today $14 million in Series A funding. General Catalyst and the Outsiders Fund led the round and were joined by Bemis Manufacturing Company.

- Brightloom, a Seattle-based maker of a customer engagement platform, raised $15 million. Investors included Valor Siren Ventures and Tao Capital Partners.

- Flywheel, a Minneapolis-based maker of a data management platform for medical research and collaboration, raised $15 million in Series B funding. Beringea and 8VC led the round and were joined by investors including Novartis dRx Capital, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Great North Labs, iSelect, and Argonautic Ventures.

- Plume, a Denver-based health tech company built for the transgender community, raised $14 million in Series A funding. Craft Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including General Catalyst, Slow Ventures, and Town Hall Ventures.

- Scratchpad, a San Mateo, Calif.-based platform for sales notes, raised $13 million in Series A funding. Craft Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Accel

- Garner Health, a New York-based health tech company that helps recommend doctors, raised $12.5 million in Series A funding. Founders Fund led the round and was joined by investors including Maverick Ventures and Thrive Capital

- Hip, a New York and Tel Aviv-based mobility startup, raised $12 million in funding. NFX and Magenta Venture Partners and were joined by investors including AltaIR Capital.

- Nerd Street Gamers, a Philadelphia-based national esports infrastructure company, raised $11.5 million. Founders Fund led the round.

- Lockstep, a Seattle-based accounting solution, raised $10 million in Series A funding. Point72 Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Clocktower Ventures and Revel Partners.

- SecurityAdvisor, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based cyber security company, raised $7.3 million in Series A funding. ClearSky Security led the round and was joined by investors including Crosslink Capital, SixThirty Ventures, and Cyber Mentor Fund. 

- Frontier Nutrition, a Bangladesh-based maker of nutritional snacks, raised $6 million in Series B funding. Investors include Adjuvant Capital and  the International Finance Corporation.

- Balance, a San Francisco-based maker of a digital checkout platform, raised $5.5 million in seed funding. Investors included Lightspeed Venture Partners, Stripe, Max Levchin (Affirm founder), Y-Combinator, and UpWest.

- Alloy Automation, a San Francisco-based e-commerce automation startup, raised $5 million across two rounds. Bain Capital Ventures and Abstract led the latest round and were joined by Color Capital, BoxGroup, and Laura Behrens Wu (Shippo). Read more.

- Bot MD, a Singapore-based chatbot for doctors, raised $5 million in Series A funding. Monk’s Hill Venture led the round. Read more.

- Rightfoot, a San Francisco-based provider of debt repayment APIs, raised $5 million in seed funding. Bain Capital Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including BoxGroup and SemperVirens Venture Capital. 

- HealthTensor, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based company using A.I. to make medical diagnoses, raised $5 million in seed funding. Calibrate Ventures led the round.

- Pandion, a Seattle-based one to two-day shipping company, raised $4.9 million in seed funding. Playground Global and Schematic Ventures led the round and were joined by AME Cloud Ventures and Innovation Endeavors.

- Crush Capital, a Los Angeles company making a series focused on investing, raised $3.3 million in seed funding. Investors included Arlan Hamilton (managing partner of Backstage Capital), Chris Burch, (co-founder of Tory Burch), and Walter Cruttenden (co-founder and chairman of Acorns). 

- Upkey, a Chicago-based maker of career readiness tools for students, raised $2.6 million in seed funding. S3 Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Tensility Venture Partners, Bronze Valley, and Lofty Ventures.

- Urban SDK, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based urban safety analytics platform, raised $1.7 million in funding. Florida Opportunity Fund and DeepWork Capital invested.

- FanUp, a Philadelphia-based fantasy sports company, raied $1 million in seed funding. Investors included Alumni Ventures Group, Ozone Ventures, Value Asset Management, and Reno Seed Fund.

- Anthill, a Chicago-based maker software designed for deskless workforces, raised $1.2 million in seed funding. Origin Ventures led the round.

PRIVATE EQUITY

- One Rock Capital Partners is in exclusive talks to acquire Nestle’s North American bottled water business, per Reuters. A deal could value the unit at $4 billion. Read more.

- The Carlyle Group and  Brighton Park Capital agreed to acquire a minority stake in Indegene, a Bangalore-based healthtech solutions, for $200 million. 

- Fathom, a portfolio company of CORE Industrial Partners, acquired Summit Tooling and Summit Plastics, precision tooling and injection molding services provider. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Riverwood Capital invested $46.5 million in Files.com, a Las Vegas-based workflow automation company. 

- Investors led by Motive Partners and Clearlake Capital Group recapitalized InvestCloud, a West Hollywood, Calif.-based fintech now valued at $1 billion. Motive Partners portfolio businesses, Finantix and Tegra118, will also be combined with InvestCloud.

- AI Fire, a portfolio company of Audax Private Equity, acquired Legacy Fire Protection, Ludlow, Mass.-based fire sprinkler company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Advanced DRI, backed by Brookstone Partners, acquired A. Molly Company, a New Jersey.-based water damage restoration company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- A group led by Cerberus increased its offer to take Dorel Industries, a Canadian maker of juvenile products and bicycles, valuing it around C$470 million. Read more.

- EagleTree Capital invested in Frosch International Travel, a Houston and New York-based travel agency. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Hastings Equity Partners invested in MKD Electric, an Elgin, Ill.-based MKD industrial automation and electrical services company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- High Street Insurance Partners, a portfolio company of Huron Capital, acquired Vested Risk Strategies, a Hillsdale, Mich.-based insurance agency. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Integrated Media Company, backed by TPG, acquired StackCommerce, a Venice, Calif.-based platform for digital publishers and influencers. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- J.C. Flowers & Co. made a majority investment in iLendingDIRECT, an Englewood, Calif.-based auto refinance marketing company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- MackeyRMS, a portfolio company of Resurgens Technology Partners, agreed to merge with InsiderScore, an Princeton, N.J.-based provider of data and analytics on publicly traded U.S. companies. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Onex agreed to invest in Weld North Education, a New York-based K-12 digital education company backed by Silver Lake. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- One Rock Capital Partners is in exclusive talks to acquire Nestle’s North American bottled water business, per Reuters. A deal could value the unit at $4 billion. Read more.

- PMC Capital Partners acquired UniversalPegasus International, a Houston-based oil-and-gas servicing company, from Huntington Ingalls Industries. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Premise Health, a OMERS portfolio company, acquired Sonic Boom Wellness, a Carlsbad, Calif.-based provider of wellness tech. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Surge Private Equity invested in RentACoop, a Maryland-based seller of items for retail chicken owners. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- TPG Growth acquired a majority stake in P20 Global Holdings, an Exton, Pa.-based provider international deployment services. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- TRM Equity acquired Elyria Foundry, an Elyria, Oh.-based ductile iron castings company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- VLS Recovery Services, a portfolio company of Aurora Capital, acquired Pacific Trans Environmental Services and Pacific Treatment Environmental Services, waste management companies based in El Cajon, Calif. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

EXITS

- HGGC acquired Marmic Fire & Safety, a Joplin, Mo.-based fire protection company, from Thompson Street Capital Partners. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Abry Partners acquired Cloudwave, a Marlborough, Mass.-based IT company focused on hospitals and healthcare, from investors including WestView Capital Partners. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Dental Pro, backed by BC Partners, agreed to acquire Vitaldent Italia, an Italian dental practice network, from JB Capital. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

OTHERS

- CoStar Group (Nasdaq: CXGP) had bid to acquire CoreLogic (NYSE: CLGX), an Irvine, Calif.-based real estate data business, in a deal valuing the latter at $6.7 billion, per Bloomberg. Read more.

- Kraft Heinz (Nasdaq: KHC) is in talks to sell its Planters snack business to Hormel Foods, the maker of Skippy peanut butter, for about $3 billion, per the WSJ. Read more.

- Embracer Group will acquire The Gearbox Entertainment Company, a Frisco, Texas-based gaming company, for up to $1.3 billion.

- Entain (LON: ENT) offered to acquire Australian Tabcorp Holdings’ (ASX: TAH) wagering and media business. Read more.

- Intuit (Nasdaq: INTU) will acquire OneSaas, an Australia-based sales data company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

IPOS

- Vantage Towers, Vodaphone’s European mobile phone masts business, may go public in Frankfurt next month and sell some 3 billion euros ($3.6 billion) in shares, per Reuters. Read more.

- 1stDibs.com, a New York-based high-end goods and art, is preparing for an IPO this year that could value it at above $1 billion, per Bloomberg. Investors include T. Rowe, Insight Partners, and Groupe Artémis. Read more.

- Bumble, an Austin-based dating app, plans to raise $1 billion in an offering of 34.5 million shares priced between $28 to $30. Blackstone backs the company. Read more.

SPACS

- REE Automotive, an Israeli electric-vehicle startup, will go public via merger with 10X Capital Venture Acquisition, a SPAC. A deal may value the firm at around $3.1 billion.

- Payoneer, a New York-based payments company, will go public via merger with FTAC Olympus Acquisition, a SPAC. The deal values the business at $3.3 billion. Payoneer has been backed by TCV, Susquehanna Growth Equity, Viola Ventures, Wellington Management, Nyca Partners, and Temasek.

- Astra, an Alameda, Callif.-based small satellite company, agreed to go public via merger with Holicity, a SPAC. A deal values the firm at $2.1 billion and includes a $200 million PIPE led by BlackRock.

- Jaws Mustang Acquisition, a SPAC from Barry Sternlicht (founder of Starwood Capital), raised $900 million.

- Ares Acquisition, a SPAC formed by Ares, raised $870 million.

- RMG Acquisition III, a SPAC formed by James Carpenter (founder of Riverside Management) and Robert Mancini (a former Carlyle executive), now plans to raise $420 million, up from the $350 million it previously sought.

- Gores Technology Partners II, a SPAC from The Gores Group targeting a tech business, filed to raise $400 million.

- CC Neuberger Principal Holdings III, the third SPAC by Neuberger Berman, raised $350 million.

- Agile Growth, a blank check company led by Jay Bhatt (former CEO of Alfresco Software), filed to raise $300 million to acquire a tech business. 

- Gores Technology Partners, a SPAC by the The Gores Group targeting tech, filed to raise $240 million.

F+FS

- KKR, the New York-based private equity firm, raised $3.4 billion for Kohlberg Investors IX.

- Arcline Investment Management, a New York and San Francisco-based private equity firm, closed Arcline Capital Partners II with commitments of $2.8 billion. 

- PSG, a Boston-based growth equity firm, raised €1.3 billion ($1.6 billion) for PSG Europe.

 Slauson & Co., a Los Angeles-based early stage venture firm, is seeking to raise $50 million for its first fund. Read more.

PEOPLE

- Shamrock Capital, a Los Angele investment firm, added David Simpson as a principal.  

- Baird Capital, a Milwaukee, Wis.-based investment firm, named Joanna Arras to partner and managing director. It also named Amy Len Kobe to principal and director. 

- Activant Capital, a Greenwich, Conn.-based investment firm, hired David Yang as a principal.