At Mergers & Acquisitions, we've begun work on one of our most popular projects of the year: the Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. The deadline for nominations is Oct. 14. Last year, we honored 36 women, including Marilyn Adler (Medley Capital), Jennifer Cotton (Madison Capital Funding), Nishita Cummings (Kayne Anderson), Venita Fields (Pelham S2K), Jeri Harman (Avante Mezzanine Partners), Pam Hendrickson (the Riverside Co.), Gretchen Perkins (Huron Capital) and Trisha Renner (Baird). Who will make it on this year's list? 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. KeyCorp chairperson and CEO Beth Mooney, the first woman in history to lead a top-20 U.S. bank, is retiring next year and will be replaced by Key’s president of banking, Chris Gorman. The Cleveland company said that Gorman has been elevated to president and chief operating officer and will serve in those roles until taking over for Mooney on May 1. Mooney, who is 64 years old, joined KeyCorp in 2006 and ran Key’s community banking business until 2011, when she replaced Henry Meyer as chairman and CEO. Four years later, Key struck the largest deal in its history when it said it would acquire $40 billion-asset First Niagara Financial Group in Buffalo, N.Y., for $4.1 billion. The sale closed in late 2016. Key had roughly $87 billion of assets when Mooney took the helm eight-and-a-half years ago and has nearly $145 billion of assets today. Read the full story: KeyCorp's Beth Mooney to retire; Gorman named successor. 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. Most recently, the New York firm announced on Sept. 11 the final close of its latest global real estate fund. 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, on the occasion of his new book, What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence, published by Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster, and released on Sept. 17. Schwarzman, who is speaking at the Economic Club of New York on Sept. 18, shared his perspective on the private equity model, its resilience during recessions and how the industry has evolved over three decades. Read the full story: "Complete control" is the beauty of private equity, says Blackstone's Stephen A. Schwarzman. DEAL NEWS Lovell Minnick Partners is buying U.K.-based insurance services provider Charles Taylor for $325 million. “As a private company with Lovell Minnick’s backing, I believe Charles Taylor will continue to capitalize on opportunities in its markets and ensure the future success of Charles Taylor for employees, partners and clients," says chairman Edward Creasy. Wind Point Partners has acquired a controlling stake in U.S. Nonwovens, a manufacturer of personal care, over-the-counter, cosmetic, laundry and household cleaning products under the Ajax, Breeze and Dynamo brands. Reed Smith LLP and KPMG LLP advised Wind Point. Kirkland & Ellis advised the sellers. The Riverside Co. is investing in German e-commerce cycling company Bike24. The target, which is owned by Bridgepoint's WiggleCRC, sells bicycle parts, accessories and clothing. Riverside said the deal is part of the "underlying megatrend of cycling as a healthy sport and ecologically friendly mode of transportation, particularly in urban environments." Tegna has completed its acquisition of 11 local television stations from Nexstar Media Group. Nixon Peabody advised Tegna. For more deal announcements, see Weekly wrap: Grupo Nutresa, Mosaic, U-C Coatings. For more on fundraising, see PE fundraising scorecard: Brightstar, Capital Z, Insight Partners. FEATURED CONTENT Bank M&A has been soaring, creating the perfect backdrop for Piper Jaffray’s announced acquisition of Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP. “There has been a lot of consolidation in the bank space,” Piper Jaffray CEO Chad Abraham told Mergers & Acquisitions. “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 the renamed firm Piper Sandler will instantly become a leading investment bank in financial services, a sector Piper has sought to expand in for several years. For analysis of the deal, see Counting on bank M&A: Why Piper Jaffray bought Sandler O'Neill. 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. Read the story: 8 M&A advisors urge closing deals now, while economy stays strong. 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 at EisnerAmper’s 4th annual Alternative Investment Summit. Among the topics discussed: 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. 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. 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 The Virginia Capital Conference is being held on Oct. 2 at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia. 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 Oct. 22-23. ACG Charlotte is hosting Deal Crawl at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina Nov. 6-7. Third Annual Women in Alternative Investments Career Forum is taking place at the New York Hilton on Nov. 8. ACG New York is hosting Middle Market Week in New York from Nov. 11-15.