Call for nominations: Mergers & Acquisitions has opened up the nomination process for the second annual 2019 Rising Stars of Private Equity. Last year, we named 11 PE investors to the list, including Ethan Liebermann (pictured: top row, far right), who was recently promoted from principal to director of TA Associates, and Jennifer Roach Pacini (bottom row, far left), a vice president of Yellow Wood Partners. For the Rising Stars of Private Equity, we look for individuals who are full-time private equity investors and whose best days are yet to come. These are the folks you predict will one day play a key leadership role at your PE firm – or will head up their own. There is no age cutoff. As a general rule of thumb, we are looking for candidates beyond entry-level investing but before making partner. We publish the list online in July and in the July/August issue of the magazine. The deadline for nominations is end of day Thursday, May 23, 2019. Nominations will be accepted only through our online form.There is no fee.

Click here for the 2018 Rising Stars of Private Equity.

Related: Read more about Mergers & Acquisitions' three annual special reports, including the M&A Mid-Market Awards, the Rising Stars of Private Equity, and the Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A.

Japenese technology company Hitachi is buying robots manufacturer JR Automation Technologies from Crestview Partners for about $1.4 billion. JR Automation builds production lines and logistics systems using industrial robots for the aerospace, automotive, consumer and food and beverage industries. The acquisition expands Hitachi's presence in the U.S. robotics sector. Advances in robotic technology are making it possible to complete more complex tasks at higher speeds and with improved control and outcomes, driving deal activity in the sector. "In the manufacturing and logistics fields, there has been a growing demand for automation because of decreased working age populations, intensifying global competition, and further quality improvement requirements to prevent significant product recalls," according to a Hitachi release. "As a result, the global robot-based automation market continues to expand, with a high average growth rate exceeding 10 percent per year." "With our combined capabilities, Hitachi and JR will be a uniquely qualified global leader in next generation smart manufacturing," says JR Automation CEO Bryan Jones. Advisors to the sellers include: Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), BofA Merrill Lynch and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP. Advisors to Hitachi include: Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities and Allen & Overy.

Equifax Inc. (NYSE: EFX) has acquired PayNet, which offers commercial credit risk underwriting and management services to online and alternative finance lenders.

Frosch International Travel has acquired travel management and expense company TCG Consulting LLC. Bearing Partners advised TCG.

Digital marketing firm Broadsign International Inc. is buying advertising technology company Ayuda. PJ Solomon advised Broadsign.

Hardy Capital has acquired eyecare retailer LD Vision Group. Canaccord Genuity Petsky Prunier advised the target.

Aerospace-focused investment firm WNG Capital has raised its second at $438 million. The fund will look to acquire mid-life to older aircrafts that are produced by Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) and Airbus. Advisors to WNG include: MVision Private Equity Advisers and Kirkland & Ellis.

Peter Rooney has joined law firm Morrison & Foerster as a partner. Rooney was previously with Orrick, and he focuses on private equity and M&A.

Derek Schoettle was hired by private equity firm Great Hill Partners as an operating partner. Schoettle is the former CEO of ZoomInfo.

Andrew Tay has joined private equity firm TA Associates as senior vice president. Tay was previously with Baring Private Equity Asia, and focuses on investments in the Asia-Pacific region.

Carriers such as AT&T and Verizon need to upgrade their infrastructure as they look to offer 5G, driving demand for infrastructure and IT providers. Read the full guest article by Alarian Associates' Pauli Overdorff: How buildout of 5G wireless technology fuels M&A.

Excelled. Innovated. Inspired. That’s what the eight winners of Mergers & Acquisitions’ 12th Annual M&A Mid-Market Awards did in 2018. Our awards honor the leading dealmakers and deals that set the standard for transactions in the middle market. In addition to Nike, award winners include: Fortive, TA Associates, the Riverside Co., Harris Williams, Monroe Capital, Goodwin and Luminate Capital Partners' Hollie Haynes. Read our full coverage: Meet the winners of the M&A Mid-Market Awards: Nike, Fortive, TA, Harris Williams.

Related: Read more about Mergers & Acquisitions' three annual special reports, including the M&A Mid-Market Awards, the Rising Stars of Private Equity, and the Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A.

Genstar Capital, Audax, HarbourVest ranked as the top U.S. private equity firms of 2018, based on volume of completed deals, according to PitchBook. Check out Mergers & Acquisitions' profiles of 21 firms that led the league tables. Top private equity firms: Genstar, Audax, HarbourVest and more

Also see: Top investment banks in PE-backed deals: KPMG, Houlihan, GS, William Blair.

Technology permeates dealmaking today. “Tech is, more or less, touching everything,” as the authors of The 2019 BDO Technology Outlook Survey put it. You can see the impact of tech throughout the 2018 winners of Mergers & Acquisitions’ M&A Mid-Market Awards especially: Luminate Capital Partners founder Hollie Hayne scoring Dealmaker of the Year for raising a second fund to invest in enterprise software companies; and TA Associates winning Private Equity Firm of the Year for investing a record $2.8 billion in new portfolio companies, most of which are infused with technology one way or the other.

Related: Why private equity firms still love technology
Related: 10 private equity firms share strategies for tech M&A.

Mergers & Acquisitions has named 36 leaders the 2019 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A, including Kainos Capital's Sarah Bradley, Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors' Nishita Cummings and Pelham S2K Managers' Venita Fields. All 36 are outstanding dealmakers both inside and outside of their firms. This year, we asked the featured dealmakers to tell their own stories through Q&As, including their advice for women. Related: Meet the 2019 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A.

ACG Boston hosts a 40th Anniversary Celebration and inaugural awards reception at the Boston Harbor Hotel's Wharf Room on April 24.

InterGrowth 2019 takes place May 6-8 at the Waldorf Astoria & Hilton Bonnet Creek in Orlando, Florida.

Innovation Works holds its second annual AI/Robotics Venture Fair in Pittsburgh May 15-16.

ACG Chicago hosts the Midwest Capital Connection, at The Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, May 21-22.

ACG New York, ACG Boston and ACG Philadelphia are holding the Industrial Conference with Value Creation at the Infor in New York on June 6. The event is part of the Northeast Industry Tour.

ACG Minnesota hosts the The Upper Midwest ACG Capital Connection at the Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, The Depot, June 10-11.

ACG Boston brings together 700-plus dealmakers for DealFest Northeast and DealSource Select 2019 at the Cyclorama & The State Room, June 12-13.

Exponent Women hosts the Annual Exchange, which brings a trusted network of women dealmakers together for a focused day of robust content and networking, at Second in New York, on Thurs July 11. The Exchange provides attendees with opportunities to establish new connections, reinforce existing ones, and absorb timely and relevant knowledge from industry leaders.