Luminate Capital Partners has purchased a majority stake in LiquidFrameworks from Houston Ventures and other early investors. The target offers cloud-based mobile field operations services for the oilfield, industrial and environmental services industries. LiquidFrameworks’ FieldFX product automates the lifecycle of a job from origination to billing, helping to generate more accurate price quotes and invoices, and allowing field service workers to process work orders even when in remote areas that do not have an Internet connection. “By focusing on customer needs, LiquidFrameworks has created a mission critical software application used daily by field services professionals across multiple verticals, and we look forward to finding ways to provide further value to the industry,” says Luminate founder Hollie Moore Haynes, who is a former managing director at Silver Lake Partners. Haynes is one of 36 dealmakers Mergers & Acquistions named as the 2019 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. Luminate recently raised its second fund at $425 million, and In 2018, the PE firm invested in AutoQuotes, a technology provider for the foodservice equipment industry. Kirkland & Ellis advised Luminate on the LiquidFrameworks deal.

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. Sixty-eight percent of the 350 U.S. middle market companies surveyed by TD Bank say they plan to engage in M&A activity within the next six to 24 months, and 85 percent said there are no barriers to M&A activity. The survey included companies generating between $50 million and $500 million in annual revenues. M&A thrived in 2018, with the aggregate value of announced global mergers and acquisitions reaching the highest level since 2015, according to information collected by Bureau van Dijk, a Moody’s Analytics company. The year yielded a bumper crop for private equity buyout deals, found Preqin. The research house reported that 5,106 PE deals were announced in 2018, making it the most active year the industry has ever recorded, as measured by deal volume.

Related: Companies confident about M&A in 2019 after great 2018.

Deal news
Vestar Capital Partners-backed Roland Foods has bought Albert Uster Imports Inc., an importer of pastry, bakery, and confectionary products to professional chefs and bakers. Kirkland & Ellis and SunTrust Robinson Humphrey advised Roland and Vestar. Arnold & Porter represented Albert Uster.

Platte River Equity has acquired a controlling stake in Sherrill Inc., a distributor and direct retailer of industrial tools and equipment. Bartlitt Beck LLP advised Platte River. BMO Capital Markets provided financing.

RiverGlade Capital has bought dental care practice Kids Care Dental & Orthodontics from Sterling Partners. Cain Brothers advised the sellers.

Guardian Capital Partners-backed Hyper Pet LLC has bought R2P Pet Ltd., a designer of private label and branded pet supplies. Cascadia Capital advised R2P.

Taglich Private Equity has acquired socks maker Fore Bare Freet Inc. Metronome Partners advised the target.

Outlook 2019
Mergers & Acquisitions asked leading dealmakers about their outlook for the middle market in 2019. View 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. Watch the full video: 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. Watch the full video: Outlook 2019: Excess capital to fuel M&A.

Rising interest rates and regulatory changes may increase volatility, cautions Mark Emrich of Murray Devine. Watch the full video: Outlook 2019: Keep an eye on rising interest rates.

People moves
Oliver Bradley has joined Macquarie Capital as a managing director where his is focusing on digital infrastructure. Bradley most recently served as corporate finance director at CityFibre Infrastructure Holidays plc.

Chris Brink has been promoted from COO to CEO at Peak Rock Capital-backed Hasa Inc., a producer of water treatment products.

Megan Gess was hired by law firm Haynes and Boone as a partner. Gess was previously with Troutman Sanders LLP, and she focuses on the food and beverage sector.

Kevin Krakora has joined middle-market advisory firm Getzler Henrich as a managing director. Krakora currently serves as the chairperson for TMA Global, and he focuses on restructurings and distressed M&A.

Ardiran Maguire has joined Kirkland & Ellis as a partner. He was most recently with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and concentrates on private equity and M&A.

Featured content
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.

Private equity firms are giving back – organizing groceries at food pantries, mentoring students in schools, running races for cancer cures and pitching in at animal shelters.Mergers & Acquisitions highlights the philanthropic and volunteering initiatives of 5 PE firms: the Carlyle Group LP (Nasdaq: CG), Frontier Capital, Huron Capital, the Riverside Co. and Star Mountain Capital. Read the full story, The Big Give.

GTCR managing director Phil Canfield learned the fundamentals of private equity investing at the Business Honors Program at The University of Texas at Austin. Now he and his wife Mary Beth are giving back to UT’s McCombs School of Business. In recognition of the $20 million gift, the program has been renamed the Canfield Business Honors Program. “Private equity investors are wired to look for opportunities to get the very best returns for their investment,” Canfield tells Mergers & Acquisitions in a Q&A. Read the full story: GTCR’s Phil Canfield donates $20M to UT’s McCombs School of Business.

Dealmakers share their thoughts on Giving Back in video interviews conducted by Mergers & Acquisitions at ACG Philadelphia’s M&A East. Check out our video with Reed Smith’s Jonathan Moyer: For millennial dealmakers, giving back is part of who they are. And watch our conversation with Baker Tilly Capital’s Judit Nagy-Eichelber: Volunteer work brings teams together.

Infrastructure investors can no longer afford to think about only concrete, glass and steel. Digitalization is transforming the role played by physical assets, and Paris private equity firm Ardian has identified five critical attributes, which form the foundation of a new approach to value creation called Augmented Infrastructure. For more, read: How digital disruption is transforming private equity investments in infrastructure.

With the rising number of cyberattacks, conducting due diligence on data is more important than ever in dealmaking. Read the full guest article by Neil Coulson and Cynthia Cole of Bakter Botts: Why mitigating data risk is crucial in M&A.

The NFL playoff field is narrowed to eight teams after Wild Card Weekend, and the Super Bowl is just two wins away. Off the field, football players build companies. New England 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.

ACG New York Women of Leadership Summit brings together women in the middle-market dealmaking community for a day focused on networking and knowledge sharing on Jan. 17 at the Intercontinental Barclay Hotel. Alexa Von Tobel, chief innovation officer of Northwestern Mutual, keynotes.

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.