M&A wrap: Cision, TrendKite, OEP, HGGC, AIMCo., Abraaj, Colony

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Cision Ltd. (NYSE: CISN) is buying TrendKite Inc. for $225 million. TrendKite uses artificial intelligence to help communications professionals assess the impact of their efforts. "TrendKite and Cision have a shared understanding of the communications industry's need to quantify the business value of earned media campaigns," says TrendKite CEO Erik Huddleston. "The combination of TrendKite's rich analytics platform and the Cision Communications Cloud platform will powerfully impact our joint customer base with the most robust, end-to-end Earned Media Management solution available." Buyers are hot on the trail of innovations, including artificial intelligence, that will drive sustainable value to customers and make companies more efficient, more effective and less expensive to run. CareerBuilder has acquired Textkernel, a provider of artificial intelligence and machine learning technology that matches people and jobs. Apax Partners is investing $200 million to acquire a minority stake in Fractal Analytics, which offers artificial intelligence to Fortune 500 companies, and Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) purchased Invertex Ltd., which uses 3D technology and mobile applications aimed at providing retailers with information to customize products to meet specific customer needs.

Mergers & Acquisitions seeks nominations for the 12th Annual M&A Mid-Market Awards, which will honor leading dealmakers and deals that set the standard for transactions in the middle market in 2018. The deadline for nominations is end of day Friday, February 8, 2019. Click here to submit nominations. To determine the winners, Mergers & Acquisitions considers a variety of factors. We look for companies and individuals who overcame the challenges the year brought, embodied the trends of the period and took their businesses to the next level. Market leadership and performance are important, but league tables aren’t everything. Growth counts for a lot, especially when the rate of growth outpaces peers and the overall industry. Innovation also counts. We value companies that businesses. Thought leadership in the industry is also relevant. Looking at past winners provides a good guide to what we’re seeking. Last year’s winners included Campbell Soup, Huron Capital, Idera, LLR Partners, McGuireWoods, Stryker, Twin Brook and William Blair. For more information, read the full story: Call for Nominations: 12th Annual M&A Mid-market Awards.

M&A activity was robust with in 2018, and most companies in the U.S. middle market say they are optimistic about M&A in 2019. The confidence comes following a record year for private equity-backed transactions. Strategic buyers and PE firms were active, putting excess cash in dealmaking. Sectors that saw a lot of activity included: software and data, retail and consumer, and healthcare. Read the full story: M&A soared in 2018; Autodesk, Hershey, Stryker closed notable deals.

Deal news
Alberta Investment Management Corp. is buying a minority stake in Davies Group from HGGC. The latter is keeping a majority stake in the company. Davies provides claims and insurance services. HGGC invested in Davies in 2017. AIMCo. is one of Canada’s largest institutional investment managers. ICG and Permira Debt Managers are providing financing.

Odyssey Investment Partners has purchased Barcodes Inc. from Cortec Group. The target offers products and services that help businesses digitally capture and act on data related to their assets, people, and transactions, including barcode scanners, mobile computers, label printers, point-of-sale systems.

Seeking Alpha has acquired data and analytics provider Cresscap. The deal strengthens Seeking Alpha's services of offering real-time stock analysis to consumers and retail investors.

One Equity Partners-backed Simplura Health Group has acquired home care services provider Personal In-Home Services. The deal is the seventh acquisition that Simplura has made under OEP’s ownership.

Colony Capital Inc. (NYSE: CLNY) is buying Abraaj Group’s private equity platform in Latin America. The new firm will be called Colony Latam Partners.

Provident Financial Services in has agreed to buy wealth management firm Tirschwell & Loewy. Read the full story: Provident Financial to buy New York wealth management firm.

People moves
Dominick DeRosa has joined Tritium Partners-backed DCS Global as chief growth officer. He most recently served as SVP of commercial strategy and partnerships at nThrive.

Brian Walker was hired by Huron Capital, where he will be in charge of strategic leadership at the portfolio company level. He was previously the CEO of Herman Miller.

Featured content
Technology permeates many of today’s private equity deals, and PE firms are hot on the trail of innovations that will drive sustainable value to customers and make companies more efficient, more effective and less expensive to run. Among the developments appealing to PE investors are: artificial intelligence, data management, data virtualization, digital marketing, healthcare IT, industrial automation, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine learning, payment processing and Software-as-a-Service. “Technology, in and of itself, is invading every end market, and it is driving companies to be more competitive than their peers,” points out Richard Lawson, CEO of tech-focused PE firm HGGC. As PE firms consider the tech landscape, they are watching Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) closely. “We are always thinking about how we can help companies that are going to get dislocated and disintermediated by Amazon,” says Lawson. “End markets everywhere are being changed by Amazon. As Amazon scales, it will challenge all kinds of industries and it will have a cascading effect across all sectors. You are already seeing more companies trying to connect their brands with consumers in new ways.” To gain more insights into what kinds of tech deals will dominate the field in 2019, Mergers & Acquisitions reached out to 10 private equity firms that are active investors in technology: Francisco Partners, Genstar, Great Hill, HGGC, Insight, LLR, Riverside, Silver Lake, TA and Vista.

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. "Actively lobby and ask from day one to work on deals, so you can gain dealmaking experience early in your career," advises Bradley. "Too often, women are steered into functions like marketing, business development, and investor relations – the 'softer side' where it is easier to place a female. The excuse often used is that the females don’t have the deal experience of their male counterparts. That is why you must be an advocate for yourself and work on deals from the very beginning."

Related: Meet the 2019 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A.

Mergers & Acquisitions asked leading dealmakers about their outlook for the middle market in 2019. Watch the video conversations, shot at ACG Philadelphia's M&A East: It is a seller's market, and deal activity is expected to remain steady, says Ramsey Goodrich of Carter Morse & Goodrich: Outlook 2019: Great time to sell. Private equity firms and strategic buyers will use their excess cash and capital to look for deals, says Bharat Ramprasad of Stifel Nicolaus: Outlook 2019: Excess capital to fuel M&A. Rising interest rates and regulatory changes may increase volatility, cautions Mark Emrich of Murray Devine: Outlook 2019: Keep an eye on rising interest rates.

The New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams will face off in the Super Bowl. Off the field, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady recently teamed with former Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, who is the co-host of ABC’s Good Morning America, to launch a sports media startup called Religion of Sports Media. Muhsin Muhammad, who played wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers and the Chicago Bears, is a managing director of private equity firm Axum Capital Partners. Steve Young, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, is a co-founder of private equity firm HGGC. Check out: NFL stars Tom Brady, Michael Strahan, Steve Young go PE.

Events
Exponent Women kicks off the new year with an evening of networking on Jan. 24 at The Campbell, at New York's Grand Central Terminal. Jazz Age financier John W. Campbell converted the space to his private office and reception hall in 1923, and it has recently been restored by design firm Ingrao Inc.

ACG Boston, ACG Connecticut, ACG New Jersey, ACG New York & ACG Philadelphia host ACG Northeast Dealmaking at the Mountain at Stowe Mountain Resort in Stowe, Vermont Jan. 27-29. The event provides a chance for middle-market M&A professionals from across the northeast to come together for two days of close knit networking, shared conversations and valuable time spent to deepen your relationships within the deal community.

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