Mergers & Acquisitions has named the 2020 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. This marks the fifth year we have produced the list. 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. We’re also pleased to welcome many newcomers to the list, such as Ivelisse Simon, managing partner, Avante Capital Partners. “I faced a lot of pushback (e.g. “women aren’t interested in private equity” or “we have bigger issues to tackle”) but ultimately the message resonated with Senators.” says Simon. I am honored to lead this important charge to implement an internship program to increase diversity in the industry.” Read our full coverage of all the champions of change on our list, including Q&As with each individual.

Also on the list is Gina Cocking, who has just been named CEO of Colonnade Advisors, a Chicago-based boutique investment bank. Cocking began her career in investment banking at Kidder Peabody, was an analyst at Madison Dearborn Partners and an associate at J.P. Morgan & Co. She was a vice president at Colonnade from 1999 to 2003 and left to gain operating experience as the chief financial officer of Cobalt Finance, a specialty finance company, and Healthcare Laundry Systems, a private-equity backed linen rental company for which she oversaw the successful sale to a strategic acquirer. Cocking served as the line of business CFO for Consumer Banking and Lending at Discover Financial Services, including its $29 billion bank and $3.5 billion personal loan business. She rejoined Colonnade in 2014 as a managing director.

PSA Group and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV have agreed to combine to create the world’s fourth-biggest carmaker, as the manufacturers prepare to shoulder the costly investments in new technologies transforming the industry. The all-stock transaction would forge a regional powerhouse to rival Germany’s Volkswagen AG and with a market value of about $47 billion, surpassing Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F). Read the full story by Bloomberg News: Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot merge to create world’s fourth-biggest automaker.

New York Life Insurance Co. agreed to buy a Cigna Corp. business that sells life and disability insurance through employers for $6.3 billion in cash. Cigna expects about $5.3 billion of net after-tax proceeds from the deal, the companies said in a statement. It will use the funds for share repurchases and repayment of debt. Read the full story by Bloomberg News: New York Life purchases Cigna unit.

Leidos Holdings Inc. (NYSE: LDOS) is buying Dynetics for $1.65 billion. The target offers technology and engineering services to national security companies. Baird and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP are advising Leidos. Jefferies and King & Spalding advised Dynetics.

Bertelsmann SE & Co KGaA is acquiring Pearson’s remaining 25 percent stake in Penguin Random House for $675 million. The deal values Penguin at $3.67 billion. Morgan Lewis is representing Pearson.

Institutional investors advised by J.P. Morgan Asset Management have bought Contanda from EQT. Contanda provides storage to owners of bulk liquid storage products mainly in the energy and agricultural sectors. Goldman Sachs (NYSE: JPM) and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP advised the sellers.

FS Investments is buying multi-asset investment firm Chiron Investment Management. Dechert is advising FS.

Main Street Capital has formed Compass Precision LLC to acquire companies in the precision metal manufacturing industry. Compass was created through the acquisitions of Quality Products & Machine LLC, Advanced Machining & Tooling LLC and Tri-Tec Industries Inc.

DataRobot is buying Paxata, a self-service data preparation provider.

Taylor Swift renewed her criticism of private equity, calling out the Carlyle Group and the Soros family for helping her nemesis Scooter Braun purchase the rights to her old music. In a speech at a Billboard Women in Music event, she called the increasing presence of private equity in the music industry a “potentially harmful force,” decrying that the firms are unregulated and “buying up our music as if it is real estate.” Swift took direct shots at Soros, Carlyle and the sports and media-focused investment firm 23 Capital for helping music manager Braun’s Ithaca Holdings purchase of her old catalog. Read the full story by Bloomberg News: Taylor Swift calls out Soros family in fight with private equity.

Direct lenders, including more and more hedge funds and buyout firms, are preparing to dish out billions of dollars at a time to lure borrowers away from the $1.2 trillion leveraged loan market. Read the full story by Bloomberg News: Apollo and Blackstone are stealing Wall Street’s loans business.

Attorneys for private equity professional Bill McGlashan have filed motions asking a judge to force the U.S. Department of Justice to produce what they said is evidence favorable to their client in the “Varsity Blues” college admissions case. McGlashan is the founder of TPG Growth, the private equity arm of TPG Capital, and the founder of impact investing fund The Rise Fund, which he co-founded with U2 lead singer Bono. McGlashan is no longer serving with either firm. He has pled not guilty to all the charges against him, including conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery and substantive wire fraud counts. In the Dec. 18 filing, McGlashan’s attorneys, including former Enron prosecutor John C. Hueston, are requesting detailed reports of interviews FBI agents conducted with William “Rick” Singer, the college admissions consultant at the center of the admissions scandal, and other cooperating witnesses. In the filing, McGlashan “moves to compel the full reports underlying the summaries the Government has divulged to-date, as well as additional exculpatory and material evidence in the Government’s possession related to his knowledge and intent with respect to Singer’s schemes. This additional exculpatory and material evidence may include, without limitation, full reports of any of the Government’s interviews concerning McGlashan or his son, including any interviews with USC admissions or athletic personnel (such as the Marin Academy USC admissions representative referenced in the Government’s most recent letter).” As the Los Angeles Times writes, McGlashan’s attorneys are hoping the documents “contain evidence that would show McGlashan decided on his own to back away from an athletic recruiting scam offered by Singer — and not after learning he was under investigation, as prosecutors have alleged.”

Dave Prendergast has joined healthcare-focused private equity firm Enhanced Healthcare Partners as vice president, business development. Prendergast was most recently with Waud Capital.

With the holiday shopping season in full swing, all eyes are on the retail industry, which is undergoing transformational changes. Mergers & Acquisitions examines the impact of 7 technologies on M&A in the retail sector. Read the whole series:

Overview: Retail Tech M&A: 7 Technologies Driving Change
Retail Tech M&A #1: Nike, McDonald’s, PayPal, add customization, IoT
Retail Tech M&A #2: Why Walmart and other retailers are buying artificial intelligence startups
Retail Tech M&A #3: Amazon leads race to build fulfillment centers
Retail Tech M&A #4: Do robots fill orders faster?
Retail Tech M&A #5: Voice recognition gives retailers more ways to communicate
Retail Tech M&A #6: Data improves customer service
Retail Tech M&A #7: Demand for convenience drives growth in mobile ordering

Albertsons, Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR), Stop & Shop and Walmart (NYSE: WMT) are building automated mini-warehouses and “dark stores” to make deliveries and prepare pickup orders. Mini-warehouses are usually attached to existing stores, and in most cases, “dark stores” are completely separate. Both formats are closed off to customers, and are mostly automated. They use the assistance of robots for speed, save on labor, and get orders out faster. Kroger bought a five percent stake in robotics firm Ocado. Read our full coverage: Smart supermarkets become popular, as Kroger, Walmart add them.

It’s a milestone year for the Blackstone Group Inc. (NYSE: BX), which transitioned from a publicly traded partnership to a corporation on July 1. The New York firm announced the final close of its latest global real estate fund recently. With $20.5 billion of total capital commitments, Blackstone Real Estate Partners IX is the largest real estate fund ever raised. Mergers & Acquisitions spoke with Stephen A. Schwarzman, the firm’s co-founder, chairman and CEO. Read the full story: “Complete control” is the beauty of private equity, says Blackstone’s Stephen A. Schwarzman.

The private equity model has held up very well over the decades, continuing to outperform the public markets, even as economic cycles come and go. But the rate of growth has slowed, leading PE firms to seek adjacent areas of business to expand. As PE firms face increased pressure to produce higher returns on their investments, many of them are turning to a familiar area of business: lending. Adams Street Partners, Balance Point Capital, Carlyle and VSS are all actively engaged in lending. Read the full story: Private equity firms are becoming lenders. Here’s why.

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.

During the holiday season, Mergers & Acquisitions is covering the philanthropic and volunteer initiatives underway in the private equity industry. At Mergers & Acquisitions, we’re covering the philanthropic and volunteer initiatives underway in the private equity industry. Last year, we published The Big Give, an in-depth look at how private equity firms are contributing. Efforts have continued to flourish, fueled by younger Millennials seeking to build a better future and by mature partners considering the legacy they will leave behind. Read our full coverage: Private equity gives back: Vista’s Robert F. Smith, Clearlake’s José E. Feliciano, Riverside employees.

The Annual AM&AA Winter Conference is taking place in Scottsdale, Arizona Jan. 8-10.

Deal Wave is being hosted by ACG Orange Country at the Ritz-Carlton-Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, California on Jan. 9.