M&A wrap: Cox, Rivian, Amazon, Ford, Yelp, Groupon, Most Influential Women

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Joining previous investors Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), Cox Automotive has invested $350 million in electric vehicle specialist Rivian. Cox owns automotive-related websites Autotrader, Dealer.com, Dealertrack and Kelley Blue Book. “We are excited by Rivian’s unique approach to building an electrified future and to be part of the positive impact its products will bring to our roads and the world around us,” says Sandy Schwartz, president of Cox Automotive. “This investment complements Cox Automotive’s own commitment to environmental change through our Cox Conserves efforts." In addition to the investment, the two companies said they will explore partnership opportunities in service operations, logistics, and digital retailing. Rivian, which will remain an independent company, has developed electric vehicle technology that was originally designed on skateboards. The company's off-road electric SUVs target consumers who like outdoor adventures, such as camping. “We are building a Rivian ownership experience that matches the care and consideration that go into our vehicles,” adds RJ Scaringe, founder and CEO. “As part of this, we are excited to work with Cox Automotive in delivering a consistent customer experience across our various touchpoints." Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz advised Cox.

Mergers & Acquisitions seeks nominations for the fifth edition of the Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. The deadline is Oct. 14. To be considered, candidates must be women who are outstanding dealmakers both inside and outside of their firms. Evidence of influence in the broader M&A industry is essential. When nominating a candidate, please explain how she outperforms her colleagues at her firm and in the industry. Please provide examples of deals she has led, initiatives she has launched and other instances that show evidence of her influence in the middle market. An important guide to what we're looking for can be found in the dealmakers we've honored in previous years. See profiles of, and Q&As with, past honorees here.

TO NOMINATE A CANDIDATE, CLICK HERE.

DEAL NEWS
Groupon Inc. (Nasdaq: GRPN) could be pursuing an acquisition of Yelp Inc. (NYSE: YELP), according to the Wall Street Journal. “It is reasonable to conclude that a relatively large acquisition by Groupon is forthcoming,” Robert Chapman, founder of California investment firm Chapman Capital LLC, told the Journal.

Vector Capital has invested in real estate technology firm MoxiWorks. The target's software helps brokers manage the home buying and selling process.

Software-as-a-service company ASG has purchased Transcendent, an operations management software business that helps companies track assets, improve workflow and increase return on investment.

KCM Capital Partners has acquired Industrial Valve Sales & Services. The target repairs and inspects valve parts. Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP advised KCM. Financing was provided by Hancock Capital Management.

For more deal news, see Weekly Wrap: McDonald's, Swander Pace, Shopify.

For more on fundraising, see PE fundraising scorecard: Caprock, LNC, Thoma Bravo.

PEOPLE MOVES
Ronnie Bloom was hired by middle-market lender Great Rock Capital as a managing director of originations. He was previously with Royal Bank of Canada and Wells Fargo Bank.

Dan Glickman has joined private equity firm Harvest Partners as a partner where he is leading the firm's capital markets efforts. Glickman was most recently with Antares 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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