M&A wrap: Amazon, Walmart, Elliott, AT&T, AEI, TA, Littlejohn, Platinum

amazonlogistics
Packages move along a conveyor belt at the Amazon.com Inc. fulfillment center in Hyderabad, India on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Amazon opened its largest Indian fulfillment center in Hyderabad. The center spans 400,000 square feet with 2.1m cubic feet of storage capacity the company said in a statement. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

Online retailers, including Amazon, are adding more fulfillment centers to meet consumer demands for faster shipping times. The owners of these properties along with the contractors that build them are becoming prime M&A targets. Sterling Construction Co. (Nasdaq: STRL) is buying Plateau Excavation Inc. for $400 million. Plateau serves customers in the e-commerce and warehousing sectors with infrastructure and excavating contracting services. Plateau’s recent and current construction projects include: an Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) fulfillment center in Alabama, a Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) distribution center in Florida and a UPS (NYSE: UPS) warehouse at the Charlie Brown airport in Atlanta. “The rapid growth in e-commerce, cloud computing and the continuing rise of internet activities makes Plateau, a company that specializes in data center and warehouse construction, a very attractive addition to Sterling’s portfolio of businesses,” says Sterling CEO Joe Cutillo. Existing logistics sites are attracting buyer attention too. Stockbridge Capital Group has acquired 26 e-commerce and logistics properties from Westcore Properties. “It is no secret that e-commerce continues to enhance the attractiveness of high-quality and well-located warehouse and distribution properties,’’ notes Nicole Stagnaro, head of opportunistic and platform transactions at Stockbridge. For more see, Amazon and Walmart open more logistics centers, driving warehouse M&A.

DEAL NEWS
Elliott Management Corp. disclosed a new $3.2 billion position in AT&T Inc., taking on one of the nation’s biggest and most widely held companies with a plan to boost the telecommunications giant’s share price by more than 50% through asset sales and cost-cutting. The New York hedge fund, run by billionaire Paul Singer, outlined a four-part plan for the company in a letter to its board Monday. The proposal calls for the company to explore divesting assets including satellite-TV provider DirecTV, the Mexican wireless operations, pieces of the landline business, and others. Read the full story by Bloomberg News: Elliott takes stake in AT&T, seeks asset sales.

Valence Media, the parent company of famed entertainment-industry publication Billboard, is acquiring the music-industry data, software and analytics business of Nielsen Holdings Plc, according to Bloomberg News. The transaction would bring the music industry’s top chart and data providers under one roof. Read the full story by Bloomberg: Billboard’s parent company Is buying Nielsen’s music business.

First Defiance Financial in Defiance, Ohio, has agreed to buy United Community Financial in Youngstown, Ohio. The $3.3 billion-asset First Defiance said in a press release Monday that it will pay $473 million in stock for the $2.9 million-asset United Community. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter. First Defiance, which will be rebranded as part of the deal, will have $5 billion in loans and $4.9 billion in deposits when the deal closes. Read the full story: Ohio banks announce $473 million merger.

ServiceMaster (NYSE: SERV) has purchased Nomor Holding AB, a provider of pest control services in Norway and Sweden. Advisors to ServiceMaster include: Foros, McDermott Will & Emery, Mannheimer Swartling Advokatbyra and Advokatfirmaet Thommesse.

AE Industrial Partners-backed Belcan has acquired Lagoni Engineering. The latter offers engineering, consulting and cybsersecurity services to the energy sector. Mishcon de Reya LLP and PwC advised Belcan. Lagoni was advised Russell-Cooke.

Tailwind Capital has purchased risk management software company Ventiv Technology Inc., which allows organizations to monitor and manage risks through analytics. Tailwind was advised by Harris Williams and Davis Polk & Wardwell.

TA Associates has acquired a minority stake in MISA Joint Stock Co. The target provides accounting, financial, enterprise resource planning and business management software to businesses across Vietnam.

Littlejohn & Co. and Platinum Equity-backed Interior Logic Group has purchased Mike's Flooring Cos., which installs floors on residential and commercial properties.

CIBC has completed its acquisition of investment bank Clearly Gull to expand its U.S. presence.

For more deal news, see Weekly wrap: Prudential, Resonetics, TPG.

For more on fundraising, see PE fundraising scorecard: Avitas, Comvest, L Catterton, Platinum.

PEOPLE MOVES
Adrienne Dale has joined MidOcean Credit Partners as a portfolio manager for MidOcean’s collateralized loan obligation (“CLO”) strategies. She was previously with Credit Suisse Asset Management’s Credit Investments Group.

Keith Dougherty has been named CEO at Vestar Capital Partners-backed Roland Foods. Dougherty was recently with Essendant Inc., a distributor of workplace items.

Michael Musso was hired by consulting firm Conway MacKenzie as a senior managing director to lead the firm's new consumer products practice. Musso previously worked with Procter & Gamble, Pepsi-Cola and Frito-Lay.

Tom Dyszkiewicz, Willem Enthoven and Jeff Pranaitis have joined investment bank Stifel Financial Corp. (NYSE: SF) as managing directors. Dyszkiewicz was previously with Teneo Capital; Enthoven was most recently with B. Riley FBR; and Pranatis comes from Jefferies.

Sean Ozbolt has joined PE firm the Riverside Co. as a managing partner where he is leading Riverside's new initiative focused on value investing. Ozbolt was most recently with Aurora Capital.

FEATURED CONTENT
Bank M&A soared all summer, with dozens of deal announcements, creating the perfect backdrop for Piper Jaffray’s July news that it would acquire Sandler O’Neill. “There has been a lot of consolidation in the bank space,” Piper Jaffray CEO Chad Abraham told Mergers & Acquisitions. “Frankly that’s been very consistent over the last 10 years and has created a great opportunity for Sandler. But there are still 5,000 banks, and we expect the pace of consolidation to continue.” Piper Jaffray is determined to be the market leader in all the industries it does business in. The Minneapolis-based boutique investment bank currently dominates some of the sectors it serves, especially healthcare. With the acquisition of New York-based Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP, the renamed firm Piper Sandler will instantly become a leading investment bank in financial services, a sector it has sought to expand in for several years. “We’ve had conversations with Sandler for many years, and we’ve admired their franchise” Abraham explained. For analysis of the Piper Sandler deal, see Counting on bank M&A: Why Piper Jaffray bought Sandler O'Neill.

The New York Yankees are in first place in the American League East division and have one of the best overall records in Major League Baseball. Alex Rodriguez is best known as the former Yankees star who hit 696 home runs over the course of his 22-year baseball career, but today he’s making a name for himself as an investor as the founder and CEO of A-Rod Corp. One recent example: While serving as a guest judge on CNBC’s Shark Tank, Rodriguez backed Ice Shaker, an insulated bottle maker founded by former National Football Leaguefullback Chris Gronkowski. Rodriguez talked about his life off the field as a savvy investor since his 20’s as the keynote speaker at EisnerAmper’s 4th annual Alternative Investment Summit at the The Museum of Modern Art on June 19. Among the topics discussed in a conversation led by Charles Weinstein, CEO of EisnerAmper: Rodriguez’ childhood as the son of a single mom; his investment thesis, which shares much with other middle-market investors; how he’s helping singer/dancer/actress Jennifer Lopez (to whom he became engaged in March) transition her business initiatives from licensing her brands to owning them; and how one day he just might buy a baseball team. Read the full story: A-Rod talks Ice Shaker, NRG eSports, J. Lo & maybe buying a baseball team.

Looking for a glimpse of what’s to come in the private equity industry? Meet Mergers & Acquisitions' 2019 Rising Stars of Private Equity. As the PE industry undergoes a generational shift, and many firm founders retire, it’s well worth getting to know these emerging leaders, including Branford's Austin Collier, Sterling Partners' Shawn Domanic and Summit Partners' Sophia Popova. They represent the future of private equity. For profiles and video interviews, see Meet Mergers & Acquisitions' 2019 Rising Stars of Private Equity For Q&As, see 10 Rising Stars of Private Equity tell their tales.

Activity and urgency characterize the current dealmaking environment, say investment bankers and other M&A advisors interviewed by Mergers & Acquisitions. After a record-breaking 2018, forecasts for 2019 remain bullish. Advisors point to a lot of cash that must be deployed by strategic buyers and private equity firms alike; a healthy U.S. economy; and low interest rates. Competition for high-quality targets has never been more intense, especially for technology providers, they report, which means sellers are commanding high prices. It all adds up to a sellers' market. A mood of urgency prevails, as dealmakers seek to close deals quickly, while conditions remain favorable. The advisors interviewed for this story say they don’t see signs of a recession this year; however they are closely monitoring bellwethers, including corporate earnings, wage pressure, global supply chains and slowdowns abroad. They are recommending that clients be prepared for an economic slowdown in the next two years. Specialization is the name of the game, and investment bankers advise clients to seek targets with business-model stability, limited cyclical exposure and a recurring revenue business model. Technology, business services, healthcare, consumer and manufacturing are among the most promising sectors. Read the story: 8 M&A advisors urge closing deals now, while economy stays strong.

BC Partners has joined the growing group of private equity firms selling a minority stake to another PE firm to fuel expansion plans. The firm, which is headquartered in London with additional offices in New York, Paris and Hamburg, announced it had sold an interest in the firm to New York’s Blackstone Alternative Asset Management for undisclosed terms. PE firms increasingly are selling minority stakes to fund expansion plans. For more see, Why private equity firms sell stakes to other firms.

To celebrate deals, dealmakers and dealmaking firms, Mergers & Acquisitions produces three special reports every year: the M&A Mid-Market Awards; the Rising Stars of Private Equity; and the Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. For more on the timeline and nomination process for each, see Special reports overview: M&A Mid-Market Awards, Rising Stars, Most Influential Women.

EVENTS
ACG Boston and ACG Connecticut are hosting the 5th Annual ACG New England Fall Conference at Gurney's Newport Resort & Marina in Newport, Rhode Island from Sept. 17-18.

Exponent Women is hosting a fall rooftop networking session at RSM in New York on Oct. 7.

M&A East is taking place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia from Oct. 22-23.

Third Annual Women in Alternative Investments Career Forum is taking place at the New York Hilton on Nov. 8.

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