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Q1 M&A surges to the highest level since at least 1980

April 2, 2021, 2:46 PM UTC

It’s been a heady moment for business marriages.

Driven by a surge in tech dealmaking and a boom in special purpose acquisition companies, mergers and acquisitions in the first quarter of 2021 rose to the highest level since at least 1980, when Refinitiv first began tracking the figures.

During the period, the value of deals made around the world surged 93% to $1.3 trillion. Which also means that it surpasses the intense dealmaking environment of the dotcom era.

Can the momentum keep up for the rest of 2021? Certainly the overwhelming importance of technology will not go away, but concerns over the due diligence of some SPAC deals and fears around potentially higher interest rates could crystallize in the form of lower valuations, my colleague Anne Sraders writes

Meanwhile, worldwide M&A activity has fallen 5% to $3.6 trillion in 2020 as compared to the same period a year earlier.

THE OTHER SIDE OF PANDEMIC BANKRUPTCIES: Companies going bankrupt make messy affairs. And they’re almost always painful to those companies’ contractors and vendors, who are left with unpaid bills. Here’s a story from the New York Times detailing the fallout for one Enfield, Conn.-based couple with a warehouse once rented by Brooks Brothers, the clothing retailer that filed for bankruptcy last year. Their warehouse has been left strewn with items from the retailer that could cost at least $240,000 to clear—a price tag that will force the duo to sell their home. 

The story is one with consequences that impact more than just the couple. Unlike large vendors and landlords, small players such as Chip and Rosanna LaBonte are often limited in what they can spend on legal bills in bankruptcy proceedings.

Perhaps poetically, the story also features a photo of an old rug that “used to welcome shoppers to a Brooks Brothers store” now greeting folks on the toilet. Read more.

COINBASE DIRECT LISTING: On Thursday, the cryptocurrency trading company said it plans to start trading on April 14. Look for it under COIN.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda


- Harry’s, a New York-based razor company, raised $155 million in Series E funding. Bain Capital and Macquarie Capital led the round, valuing the company at $1.7 billion.

- Holler, a New York-based maker of messaging content, raised $36 million in Series B funding. CityRock Venture Partners and New General Market Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Gaingels, Interplay Ventures, Relevance Ventures, Towerview Ventures, and WorldQuant Ventures. 

- SEGRON, an Amsterdam-based digital testing company, raised $10 million in total since inception. Investors include OTB Ventures and Credo.

- On Deck, a San Francisco-based startup with a community for tech employees and founders, raised $20 million in Series A funding. Founders Fund led the round, valuing it at $250 million, per Axios. Read more.

- Zededa, a San Jose, Calif.-based orchestration for the distributed edge company, raised $12.5 million in extended Series A funding. Investors included Rockwell Automation, Juniper Networks, and EDF North America Ventures, Almaz Capital, Energize Ventures, Lux Capital, and HBAM.

- PAIR Eyewear, a New York-based eyewear brand, raised $12 million in Series A funding. Javelin Venture Partners led the round.

- Aclaimant, an Chicago-based workflow platform for safety and risk management, raised $11 million in Series B funding and $4 million in debt. Next Coast Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Mercury Fund, KEC Ventures, Royal Street Ventures, and Aspen Capital Group.

- Curri, a Los Angeles-based construction material delivery company, raised $6 million in Series A funding. Brick & Mortar Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Initialized Capital and Rainfall Ventures. 

- Acid League, a Canadian pantry staples company, raised $4.8 million in Series A funding. InvestEco Capital and BrandProject led the round.

- Awkward Essentials, a Costa Mesa, Calif.-based personal hygiene company, raised $2.3 million in seed funding. Unorthodox Ventures led the round.

- Assemble, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based online platform matching freelancers, raised $1.7 million in Series A funding. Trousdale Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Studio VC, Entrepreneur Media, ID Ventures, and Unicorn Venture Partners.


- 40 North increased its offer to acquire W.R. Grace & Co. (NYSE: GRA), a chemicals producer, to $4.6 billion. It represents a roughly 8% increase from the previous offer. Read more.

- KPS Capital Partners is in advanced talks to acquire Crown Holdings’ (NYSE: CCK) cans unit for over $2 billion, per Bloomberg. Read more.

- Falfurrias Capital Partners invested in Carolina Foods, a manufacturer of sweet baked goods. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Pinnacle Dermatology, backed by Chicago Pacific Founders, acquired Ariano Dermatology, a Naperville, Ill.-based dermatology clinic. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Stonewall Kitchen, a portfolio company of Audax Private Equity, acquired Vermont Coffee Company, a Middlebury, Vt.-based organic coffee brand. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Sentinel Capital Partners recapitalized TranSystems, a Kansas City, Mo.-based provider of inspection and other services to transportation infrastructure projects in the U.S. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- The Planet Group, backed by MidOcean Partners, agreed to acquire I.T. Works Recruitment, an Atlanta-based  recruitment firm. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Pilot Freight Services, backed by ATL Partners and British Columbia Investment Corp, acquired the company’s Kansas City franchise. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- ECP agreed to acquire Liberty Tire Recycling, a provider of tire recycling services in North America, from The Carlyle Group. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Hottinger Brüel & Kjær, a subsidiary of Spectris, acquired Concurrent Real-Time, a Palm Beach, Fla.-based provider of computational hardware and software solutions, from Battery Ventures, for about $166.7 million (£121.2 million) in cash. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Pioneer Natural Resources, backed by Apollo Global Management and Quantum Energy Partners, is in talks to acquire DoublePoint Energy, a Fort Worth, Tx.-based oil company, for over $6 billion in cash and stock, per Reuters. Read more.

- Vinci (PARIS: DG) will acquire a stake in Spanish company Actividades de Construccion y Servicios’ industrial business for about 4.9 billion euros ($5.8 billion). Read more.

- Hemisphere Media Group (Nasdaq: HMTV) acquired the 75% stake that it currently does not own of Pantaya, a U.S.-based Hispanic on-demand video service, for approximately $124 million in cash from Lionsgate

- Meredith Corp. (NYSE: MDP), the Des Moines, Ia.-based magazine publisher, is considering a sale of its television stations, per Bloomberg. Read more.


- Wise, the U.K.-based fintech formerly known as Transferwise, is planning to launch a London IPO in May this year in a deal that could value it between $6 billion to $7 billion, per Reuters. Read more.

- J&T Express, an Indonesian courier company, is weighing a $1 billion IPO in the U.S. $1 billion, per Bloomberg. A deal could value it at $5 billion. Read more

- MDA, a Canadian space company, raised C$400 million ($320 million) in its IPO in Canada. Read more.

-  Kaltura, a New York-based provider of video solutions, withdrew plans for an IPO. It previously planned to raise $353 million in an offering of 23.5 million shares (26% insider sold), priced between $14 to $16. Point 406 Ventures and Nexus India Capital back the firm. Read more.


- Logistics Innovation Technologies, a SPAC from a former UPS executive, now says it plans to raise $350 million, 13% less than previously stated.


- Next Frontier Capital, a Bozeman, Mont.-based technology venture capital firm, closed its third fund with $80 million.

- Tiger Global, a New York-based hedge fund and private market investor, raised nearly $6.7 billion for its thirteenth venture fund. Read more