The private equity industry will focus on educating lawmakers newly elected in the mid-terms. “As an industry, we will work to educate the nearly 100 new members of Congress about private equity’s positive impact in their communities and their constituents’ lives,” Pam Hendrickson, the chief operating officer of middle-market private equity firm the Riverside Co., tells Mergers & Acquisitions in a Q&A. “We will be talking with them about jobs, investment, and retirement security. We need to make the personal case to each of the new members as well as top leadership in both the House and the Senate. As an example, the incoming chair of the Ways and Means committee Richie Neal is from the State of Massachusetts which had a 15.4 percent annualized return from its PE portfolio over 10 years.” Hendrickson is currently a member of the board of the American Investment Council and a member of the advisory board of the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. In the past, she has testified before Congress on behalf of the private equity industry. Read the full interview: Post-election priority for private equity: educating 100 new members of Congress. For more on how the mid-term election results are playing out in the middle market, including how former PE professionals Mitt Romney, Bruce Rauner and J.B. Pritzker fared Tuesday night, see Dealmaker’s post-election guide: Mitt Romney, J.B. Pritzker, Dodd-Frank, Pam Hendrickson, Gretchen Perkins.

Deal news
Kraft Heinz Co. (Nasdaq: KHC) is selling its Canadian natural cheese business to the Parmalat Group for about $1.6 billion. The deal includes the Cracker Barrel, P’tit Quebec and Amooza! brands. RBC Capital Markets and Fasken Martineau DuMoulin are advising Kraft.

Newell Brands Inc. (NYSE: NWL) is selling its Pure Fishing division, which makes fishing rods and reels, to Sycamore Partners. In Addition, Newell is also selling yearbook maker Jostens to Platinum Equity. The combined deals are valued at around $2.5 billion. The divestitures are part of Newell’s process to focus on core brands. J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Jefferies and Jones Day are advising Newell. Latham & Watkins is representing Platinum Equity.

Leggett & Platt (NYSE: LEG), a manufacturer of auto, bedding and industrial products, is buying mattress materials maker Elite Comfort Solutions from Arsenal Capital Partners for $1.25 billion. The deal leverages trends, including the “growth of the online mattress channel, the emergence of boxed bed brands, and those brands’ and traditional mattress manufacturers’ increasing use of hybrid and specialty grade foam technology in compressed and conventional mattresses,” says Leggett & Platt CEO Karl Glassman. J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (NYSE: JPM) is advising Leggett & Platt.

NewSpring Capital has invested in Messagepoint, a developer of customer communications management software.

Pamlico Capital has bought Polaris Partners’ stake in TRG Screen, a provider of enterprise subscription management software.

People Moves
Brian Demos has been hired as CEO at Brynwood Partners-backed Carolina Beverage Group. Demos previously held executive positions at TreehHouse Foods (NYSE: THS).

Raquel Palmer has been promoted to co-managing partner, and Ryan Baker and Kyle Mumford have been promoted to partners at KPS Capital Partners.

Veronica Rodriguez has joined AUA Private Equity Partners as vice president of investor relations. Rodriguez was most recently the head of U.S. investor relations at Markets Group.

Featured content
Sports betting is rapidly gaining traction in the U.S., and that is spurring mid-market deals.Scientific Games Corp. (Nasdaq: SGMS) is buying sports betting data provider Don Best Sports Corp. The deal comes on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning a 1992 federal law that barred most states from authorizing sports betting. The decision could pave the way for states to allow sports gambling. Read the full story, Why sports gaming M&A is about to take off.

The Carolina Panthers take on the Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday night to kick off NFL Week 10. Off the field, football stars team to 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, which has raised $3 million in venture capital funding from CourtsideVC and Advancit Capital. Many NFL players invest in companies. 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. Mergers & Acquisitions takes a look at star players who invest in companies through private equity, venture capital and other investment vehicles.

Mergers & Acquisitions identifies 15 cities as fertile communities for dealmaking. We look at metropolitan areas from Austin (where Michael Dell launched a PC business out of his dorm room back in the day and where thousands gather every year for SXSW) to St. Louis (home of private equity firm Thompson Street Capital Partners). Be sure to check out Milwaukee (with private equity firm Robert W. Baird & Co. and investment bank Clearly Gull) and Minneapolis (home of strategic buyers 3M, Best Buy, General Mills, Hormel and Target). And don’t forget Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles and more. See our list, Dealmaker’s guide to 15 cities where M&A thrives.

Why investors like diversity. “Companies that are inclusive and also diverse tend to outperform companies that aren’t,” says investor Lorine Pendleton of Pipeline Angels and Portfolia in this video interview shot at Exponent Exchange, a gathering of 200 female dealmakers. Watch the full video: M&A Insights: Inclusion investing.

Acknowledging today’s climate of amplified workplace challenges, private equity firms must consider potential risks, from liability to litigation, before investing, writes Seyfarth Shaw’s Gerald Maatman in this guest article. Read the full story: How to mitigate #MeToo risks before you buy.

ACG Chicago’s Family Office Conference, held Nov. 8, at the Westin Chicago River North, brings deamakers together for a “deep dive” into family offices. The event features a keynote by Laurent Roux, Gallatin Wealth Management, and panels, including: Current State of Family Office Direct & Co-Investment Activity, with Gary Levenstein, Nixon Peabody; and Impact of Millennial Generation on Family Office Investment Strategy including Social Impact Investing, with Adam Lieb and Tony Oommen, Fidelity Family Office Services.

ACG Florida Capital Connection, held Nov. 12-14, at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club, puts “sun and fun” into dealmaking for the middle market, bringing together hundreds of dealmakers. The keynote speaker is Forbes Media CEO Steve Forbes, and the featured speaker for the Women’s Forum is Valerie Crites Fowler, who served as a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service for over 29 years, reaching the rank of Minister Counselor in the Senior Foreign Service.

Middle Market Week, hosted by ACG New York and held Nov. 26-30 at various locations throughout New York, brings together leading global middle-market dealmaking professionals to develop and enhance their dealmaking activities, strengthen their long-term relationships, and provide numerous opportunities for networking all week long. Mark your calendar for the Private Equity Annual Wine Tasting Gala on Nov. 28 at Gotham Hall. The building was constructed in the 1920s as the headquarters of the Greenwich Savings Bank. The gala brings together the leading middle market private equity firms for an evening of fine wines and networking.