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. Mergers & Acquisitions has opened up the nomination process for the 13th Annual M&A Mid-Market Awards, which will honor leading dealmakers and deals that set the standard for transactions in the middle market in 2019. Nominations are accepted only through our electronic forms. The deadline is Friday, Feb. 7, 2020. There is no fee. For more information on the nomination process and what we seek in winning candidates, see Call for nominations: Submissions for the M&A Mid-Market Awards due Feb. 7. DEAL NEWS Goldman Sachs' merchant banking division is buying retail technology company Aptos from Apax Partners. The target's software helps retailers with data, merchandise management and e-commerce services. Some of the company's clients include: Adidas, Bed Bath & Beyond, Build-A-Bear and Michael Kors. “With the strength of Aptos’ executive team, the company is uniquely positioned to help retailers develop resilient and thriving enterprises that can adapt to shifting consumer trends and market conditions,” says managing director Will Chen. For more on M&A trends in retail tech, see Retail Tech M&A: 7 Technologies Driving Change Woodward Inc. (Nasdaq: WWD) and Hexcel Corp. (NYSE: HXL) are combining in a merger of equals to create a new systems provider for the aerospace and industrials sectors. "This merger accelerates our technology investments and creates greater benefits and growth opportunities than either company could have achieved alone," says Woodward CEO Tom Gendron. Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) and Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz are advising Hexcel. J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati are advising Woodward. Cerberus Capital Management-backed Kellermeyer Bergensons Services is buying Hospitality Staffing Solutions from Littlejohn Capital. The target provides housekeeping, foodservice, laundry and groundskeeping services to resorts, hotels, and casinos. BB&T and Morrison Cohen LLP are advising HSS. Middleby Corp. (Nasdaq: MIDD) has acquired Ram Fry Dispensers, a maker of automated frozen fry dispensing equipment. Centre Partners-backed MacNeill Pride Group has purchased cooler manufacturer Outdoor Recreation Company of America (ORCA). 3i has acquired Cellon, Silicone Altimex and TBL Performance Plastics to a create a new platform in the biopharmaceutical sector. For more deal announcements, see Weekly wrap: Colony Capital, Yum!, Warburg Pincus. To see which other firms are fundraising, check out PE fundraising scorecard: Aegis, Blackstone, Great Point, May River. DEAL TRENDS Walmart Inc.’s (NYSE: WMT) robot army is growing. The world’s largest retailer will add shelf-scanning robots to 650 more U.S. stores by the end of the summer, bringing its fleet to 1,000. The six-foot-tall Bossa Nova devices, equipped with 15 cameras each, roam aisles and send alerts to store employees’ handheld devices when items are out of stock, helping to solve a vexing problem that costs retailers nearly a trillion dollars annually, according to researcher IHL Group. The new robots, designed by San Francisco-based Bossa Nova Robotics Inc., join the ranks of Walmart’s increasingly automated workforce which also includes devices to scrub floors, unload trucks and gather online-grocery orders. Read the full story by Bloomberg News: Walmart expands robotic workforce to 650 additional stores. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has spoken publicly only in broad strokes about its strategy for capitalizing on China's 2017 announcement that it would allow Wall Street banks to expand. But inside the firm, a massive effort is taking shape. Three months ago, a team of executives presented a five-year plan for China to the board, calling for the bank to take control of a joint venture it set up with a Chinese securities firm in 2004. Infused with hundreds of millions of dollars in new capital, the unit would embark on a hiring spree to double its workforce to 600 and ramp up a wide variety of businesses. Read the full story by Bloomberg News: Goldman readies hiring spree and capital to meet its China ambitions. PEOPLE MOVES Andrew Schwartz was promoted to partner at private equity firm Levine Leichtman Capital Partners. Schwartz joined the firm in 2011, and he is a member of U.S. investment team where he is responsible for leading the execution of new investments and portfolio company management. Jonathan Klein has been named chair and Drew Baldinger has been named vice chair of M&A at law firm DLA Piper. Joe Alexander and Joseph Silver has been named co-chairs of private equity at the same firm. Parthiv Rishi has joined law firm Sidley Austin where he is focusing on private equity and M&A. Rishi was most recently with Linklaters. Christopher Reenock was hired by middle-market investment bank Carter Morse & Goodrich as a director. He was previously with Sonenshine Partners. FEATURED CONTENT If there’s anything M&A professionals dislike, it’s uncertainty. And heading into 2020, there’s more than enough uncertainty to go around, including questions about the economy, international trade, impeachment, domestic politics and more. The funny thing is, the lack of clarity may actually make the first half of the year a great time for M&A, as dealmakers push to close transactions before the looming uncertainty of Election Day and its outcome. We conducted interviews with 8 investment bankers and other M&A advisors. Some said the first half of the year will be robust, while others said the uncertainty may have a negative impact throughout 2020. Read the full story, What’s ahead for M&A in 2020? We ask 8 advisors. 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 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 s for each, see Special reports overview: M&A Mid-Market Awards, Rising Stars, Most Influential Women. EVENTS ACG New York is hosting the 12th annual healthcare conference and bourbon tasting at the Metropolitan Club in New York on Feb. 27. ACG Boston is hosting The Big Deal at the Legal Harborside in Boston on Jan. 21. InterGrowth 2020 is taking place at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas from April 20-22.