Angel Island Capital, a multi-strategy credit investment advisor backed by Golden Gate Capital, has raised its second fund fund at $440 million. The fund is AIC’s inaugural third-party capital investment vehicle. The fund will focus on investments in performing debt of middle-market companies and includes capacity for new credit investments. “We are at an exciting inflection point for the firm, and the expansion of our credit opportunities strategy is representative of myriad opportunities we are seeing in the private debt market,” says AIC chief strategy officer Lynette Vanderwarker. Middle-market loans aim to provide returns on investments in the high single-digit to low double-digit range. The average private debt fund size reached over $1.4 billion in 2019, the largest number on record, according to PitchBook’s H2 2019 Global Private Debt Report, while dry powder rose above $240 billion. Global private debt fundraising reached almost $126 billion across 89 funds in 2019. Direct lending accounted for about $72 billion, or nearly 57 percent of global capital raised in 2019. Other lenders that recently raised debt funds include: Angelo Gordon’s flagship distressed and corporate special situations credit fund at $1.8 billion; Pathway Capital Management’s its second private credit fund at $1 billion; and First Eagle Alternative Credit’s fourth middle-market lending fund at $782 million. Campbell Lutyens advised AIC.

Houlihan Lokey, Lincoln International, Jefferies Financial Group, William Blair and Piper Sandler Cos. rank as the top five most active M&A investment banks in 2019, based on the volume of completed private equity-backed deals in the U.S., according to PitchBook. Besides advising on M&A deals, the investment banks on the top 10 list also had a busy year with acquisitions of their own in 2019, including two acquisitions by Houlihan Lokey and three by Stifel Financial. Piper Sandler Cos., was created when Minneapolis-based Piper Jaffray Cos. acquired New York-based Sandler O’Neill & Partners in a deal representing more than half of Piper Jaffray’s million market capitalization. The firm also had another acquisition in 2019 and sold a company to exit the traditional asset management business. See our full coverage: Top investment banks for PE-backed deals in 2019: Houlihan Lokey led the pack.

Audax, HarbourVest and Genstar ranked as the top three most active private equity firms in 2019, based on the volume of completed deals in the U.S., according to PitchBook. Three companies tied for fourth place: Abry, Carlyle and Shore Capital. Where were these PE firms looking for deals? Eight of the firms on our list name the software and technology sector among their top investment targets, and seven put healthcare companies on their priority list. Financial services and consumer services are each named by five of the firms as industries they focus on, with four naming business services companies. Fundraising from investors in 2019 led to two notable fund launches earlier in 2020: KKR’s Global Impact Fund and HarbourVest’s $2.6 billion HarbourVest Fund XI. See our full coverage: Top private equity firms in U.S. deals in 2019: Audax Private Equity ranked No. 1.

HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) said it has rejected an unsolicited takeover offer from Xerox Holdings Corp. (NYSE: XRX0 and has asked shareholders not to tender their shares. Read the full story from Bloomberg News: HP rejects Xerox’s hostile takeover offer as too low.

ProSiebenSat.1`s and General Atlantic’s joint company NuCom Group are buying dating app company The Meet Group (Nasdaq: MEET) for $500 million. The target owns the MeetMe, Lovoo Skout, Tagged and Growlr brands. BofA Securities and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP are advising the Meet Group. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP is advisng General Atlantic.

TA Associates and Hg-backed the Access Group have acquired CoreHR, a cloud-based HR and payroll software provider, from JMI Equity. Arma Partners advised the sellers.

Enlightenment Capital has merged portfolio companies IntelliBridge and Trowbridge. The combed company will offer cybersecurity and intelligence services to government agencies.

Kingswood Capital Management-backed AutoAnything has acquired Morris 4×4 Center, an online retailer automotive aftermarket parts and accessories to Jeep and 4×4 enthusiasts.

Bram Hall was hired by investment bank William Blair as a managing director. He previously co-founded BlackArch Partners.

Joe Silver has joined private equity firm Sun Capital Partners as a managing director, investor relations. Silver was most recently with EdgeLine Capital Partners.

XPO Logistics Inc. (NYSE: XPO) wants to slim down and is considering selling one or more assets. The company has not specified which units are for sale, mentioning only that it plans to hold on to its North American less-than-truckload business. To help lead the process, XPO named David Wyshner as chief financial officer. Read our full coverage: Why XPO’s restructuring process is good timing in the logistics sector.

Investors struggle to assess the impact of the coronavirus on the global economy. To get a sense of how the coronavirus is playing out in the middle market, Mergers & Acquisitions asked executives from private equity firm the Riverside Co., virtual data room provider Merrill Corp. and law firm Paul Hastings to weigh in. Read our full coverage: Viral impact: How COVID-19 is affecting M&A and private equity

The coronavirus may cause a drastic change in payment habits, as consumers shift to digital channels to reduce their risk of infection from handling cash, reports PaymentsSource, published by Mergers & Acquisitions parent company, Arizent. Many regions are already seeing a rise in contactless transactions, which could be seen as less prone to spreading disease than the handling of cash or paper checks. Travel advisories could lead to a drastic drop in tourism spending, which could hurt the growth of global payment systems that rely on foreign travel for growth. At the same time, companies that have been undergoing a digital transformation, or promoting new technologies such as cashier-free checkout, may see more rapid adoption if their offerings can reduce the risks of transmitting the virus through human interactions. See the full story, How coronavirus could change the payments industry.

“The manufacturing industry is changing so quickly, and on a global basis, that the sector presents an enormous investment opportunity,” says Michael Psaros, co-founder and managing partner of KPS Capital Partners, a manufacturing-focused private equity firm that recently raised $6 billion and $1 billion funds in four weeks. “Companies and entire industries are being transformed by technology and by globalization, We see value in manufacturing where others do not and we make these manufacturers better. It’s a great time to invest in the sector and we are excited about what’s to come.” Mergers & Acquisitions explores five trends fueling manufacturing deals. Read our full coverage: 5 trends driving manufacturing M&A.

Pushed by a groundbreaking California law mandating it, more companies are putting women on their public corporate boards. The law faces pressure in court and may not stand, but its rippling effect has already started to increase the visibility and awareness of the important benefits of board diversity. Investors are taking notice and trying to get ahead of the curve. According to a study published by MSCI in March 2018, having three or more women on a company’s board of directors translates to a 1.2 percent median productivity above competitors. Read the full guest article by Venable’s Belinda Martinez Vega: Why businesses are adding women to their boards.

Mergers & Acquisitions has named the 2020 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. This marks the fifth year we have produced the list, which recognizes female leaders with significant influence inside their companies and in the wider dealmaking world. It’s been gratifying to watch the project evolve over the years – and become more influential itself. This year, we received more nominations than ever before. As a result, we expanded the number honored to 42 in 2020, up from 36 in 2019. Many dealmakers are new to our list, including Rockwood Equity Partners’ Kate Faust, William Blair’s Shay Brokemond and Avante Capital Partners’ Ivelisse Simon. Read our full coverage of all the champions of change on our list, including Q&As with each individual.

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 Influenital Women in Mid-Market M&A. For an overview of what we’re looking for in each project, including timelines, see Special reports overview: M&A Mid-Market Awards, Rising Stars, Most Influential Women.

ACG Raleigh Durham’s 18th annual capital conference is being held March 31-April 1 at the Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Hotel in Raleigh, North Carolina.

ACG Global’s InterGrowth 2020 is taking place at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas April 20-22.

The Most Powerful Women in Banking is hosting LEAD at Pier 60 in New York on May 12. The industry’s rising stars get to hear from American Banker’s The Most Powerful Women in Banking honorees.

Digital Banking 2020 is taking place June 8-10 at the Austin Convention Center.

The 4th annual Emerging Manager Connect conference is taking place at the Harvard Club in New York on July 22.