Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) is investing $600 million in its venture capital arm Pfizer Ventures. About $150 million of the funds will be used to back early-stage neuroscience companies, particularly those that focus on neuro-degeneration, neuro-inflammation and neuro-metabolic disorders. “By changing the way we invest in neuroscience, we hope to support an energized community of biotech entrepreneurs who are progressing the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of neurologic diseases and help advance potential treatments for people with neurological conditions,” says Pfizer Ventures managing partner Denis Patrick. Six of Pfizer Ventures’ current investments are involved in neuroscience research including: Aquinnah, Autifony, Cortexyme, MindImmune, Mission, and Neuronetics. Outside of neursoscience, Pfizer Ventures will also invest in the areas of oncology, inflammation and immunology, rare disease, internal medicine and vaccines. In 2016, Pfizer acquired cancer treatment company Medivation. With the new investment, Pfizer Ventures now has over $1 billion under management.

Time is running out to nominate candidates for Mergers & Acquisitions’ Rising Stars of Private Equity. The deadline is Fri. June 8. We’re looking for individuals who are full-time private equity investors and whose best days will be in the future. These are the folks you predict will one day play a key leadership role at your PE firm – or heading up their own. The nomination process is informal, and all decisions will be made by our editorial team, which is headed by Editor-in-Chief Mary Kathleen Flynn. Please email suggestions, questions and comments to [email protected]. In the email subject line, please include: “Rising Stars of Private Equity Candidate” and the PE professional’s name and firm. For more details, read the full story: Who are the Rising Stars of Private Equity? Nominate candidates by June 8. And for related content, see the Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A, including our slideshow.

Deal developments
The Jordan Co. has agreed to acquire logistics company GlobalTranz Enterprises from Providence Strategic Growth, Susquehanna Growth Equity, Volition Capital and Savano Capital Partners. GlobalTranz helps businesses with full truckload, freight, shipping and technology services. Harris Williams & Co. and Weil Gotshal & Manges are advising GlobalTranz. Kirkland & Ellis is advising the buyer.

Roper Technologies Inc. (NYSE: ROP) has bought PowerPlan from Thoma Bravo for $1.1 billion. PowerPlan provides accounting, tax and capital budgeting software to the utility, oil and gas, transportation and telecommunications industries. William Blair and Kirkland & Ellis advised the sellers.

Arsenal Capital Partners-backed Meridian Adhesives Group has bought Epoxy Technology Inc., a producer of epoxy, ultraviolet, and hybrid adhesives. Arsenal recently formed Meridian through the acquisition of Adhesives Technology Corp.

Genstar Capital-backed real estate software company Accruent has acquired EMS Software. The target’s technology manages meeting spaces, conference rooms, classrooms and other gathering places.

SBI Holdings has invested in Potamus Holdings. The target is a broker-dealer that operates a technology and securities trading platform.

Mann Pro Products has purchased pet treats maker Fruitables Pet Food, which is known for the CalorieSmart Brand. Cascadia Capital advised the target.

Onex Corp. has invested $175 million in insurance brokerage firm Ryan Specialty Group. Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson represented Onex.

Stone Point Capital-backed healthcare information provider Mitchell International has bought medical exams services company Medical Consultants Network. Bailey Southwell & Co. advised the target.

Flagstar Bancorp in Troy, Mich., is an example of a bank in need of cheap funding. It helped its cause Tuesday, agreeing to buy 52 branches in four states from Wells Fargo. While the move promises to immediately help Flagstar’s balance sheet, it will also test management’s ability to retain the relationships gained from Wells. Read the full story: 52 pickup: What Flagstar saw in Wells Fargo branches.

People Moves
Emily Sharko was hired by PE firm Pine Brook as chief operating officer. Sharko was most recently the chief administrative officer at Blackstone Group LP’s (NYSE: BX) tactical opportunities group.

Matthew Rubel has joined investment bank PJ Solomon as a senior advisor, where he will advise the firm and its clients on the retail and consumer sectors. Rubel was most recently the CEO Varsity Brands.

Scott Cockerham has joined Kirkland & Ellis’ Washington, D.C. office as a partner in the firm’s tax practice group. Cockerman was most recently with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and he focuses on infrastructure finance.

Lender views
Antares Capital was the most active lender to U.S. PE-backed companies in 2017 with 159 transactions, according to PItchBook’s annual U.S. PE Lending League Tables. Ares, Madison Capital Funding, Jefferies and Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) rounded out the rest of the top five.

Covenant-lite loans are “bleeding down” to the middle market, says Twin Brook Capital Partners co-founder Trevor Clark in this video interview shot at ACG InterGrowth 2018. Watch the video interview: With rise of cov-lite loans, experience matters, says Twin Brook’s Trevor Clark. Twin Brook won Mergers & Acquisitions’ M&A Mid-Market Award for 2017 Lender of the Year.

“The rise in private debt has been tremendous over the last three or four years,” says Sunil Mehta, managing director, Madison Capital Funding LLC, in this video interview shot at ACG InterGrowth 2018. Madison, a subsidiary of New York Life Insurance Co., has long been a stellar source of capital in the middle market. Watch the video: Investors from all over the globe are attracted to private debt, says Madison’s Sunil Mehta. Also, see our Q&A with Jennifer Cotton: Abundance of capital drives highly competitive loan process, says Madison Capital’s chief underwriter.

“At the end of the day, it really matters how you behave if there’s a problem,” says Karin Kovacic, managing director, East Coast region, of middle-market lender Monroe Capital. Watch our video interview, shot at ACG InterGrowth 2018:Trust counts in lending to the middle market, says Monroe Capital’s Karin Kovacic.

Featured content
“If there’s one theme we’re seeing across all of our deals, it is the digital transformation of all companies,” says Matt Conaty, director, financial sponsors, William Blair, in this video interview, shot at ACG InterGrowth 2018. William Blair won Mergers & Acquisitions’ M&A Mid-Market Award for 2017 Investment Bank of the Year. Watch the video: Digital transformation is the name of the game, says William Blair’s Matt Conaty.

With summer road trips in mind, check out our slideshow on auto deals: Car parts makers fuel M&A, as industry readies for self-driving vehicles. Highlights include: Intelbought Mobileye, and Delphi bought nuTonomy. Meanwhile, private equity firms, including Clearlake, CenterOak Partners and Wabash National, are scooping up all sorts of car-related companies from parts makers to service providers.

In our updated Buyer’s Guide, we profile nine categories of product and services designed to help M&A professionals perform in today’s highly competitive dealmaking arena. Read the full story: From fund administrators to VDRs, dozens of firms help M&A pros compete.

Read full coverage of Mergers & Acquisitions’ 11th annual M&A Mid-Market Award winners: Campbell Soup, Huron Capital, Idera CEO Randy Jacops, LLR Partners, McGuireWoods, Stryker, Twin Brook and William Blair.