M&A wrap: Molex, Advent, Connected Vehicle, Most Influential Women

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young man driving a connected car showing on-board screen computer. All screen graphics are made up.

Molex Electronic Technologies LLC is acquiring Connected Vehicle Solutions from Laird Ltd., a portfolio company of private equity firm Advent International, in a deal that underscores the dramatic technological transformation taking place on the way to self-driving cars. The target makes connected devices and other electronic wireless systems for automobiles. “There is tremendous demand for seamless end-to-end network integration across hardware, software and services in the automotive industry,” says Tim Ruff, senior vice president, Molex business development. “Laird CVS expands our geographic reach and strengthens our ability to support automotive OEMs seeking to introduce future-ready vehicles with critical functionality while still containing costs. Molex makes electronic products for connected devices for the auto, consumer and industrials sectors. For more on auto tech deals, check out our slideshow: Car parts makers fuel M&A, as industry readies for self-driving vehicles. Jones Day and Evercore (NYSE: EVR) are advising Molex. Weil Gotshal, Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) and Citibank are advising Advent.

With football season underway, Mergers & Acquisitions takes a look at star players who invest in companies through private equity, venture capital and other investment vehicles. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady recently teamed with former New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan (pictured), 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. 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 PE firm HGGC. For more, read the full story: Tom Brady, Muhsin Muhammad, Michael Strahan, Steve Young also build companies.

Mergers & Acquisitions has opened up the nomination process for the 2019 edition of The Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. Efforts to recruit and retain women in the financial services industry have increased in recent years; nevertheless, women still make up only about 14 percent of dealmakers in the middle market. By identifying and featuring dozens of influential women, Mergers & Acquisitions nurtures the community of female leaders and provides role models for women who are at earlier stages of their careers. 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. While considering the merits of candidates, it’s helpful to read about women who have met our criteria in the past, such as Kainos Capital co-founder Sarah Bradley, who graced our 2018 cover. See the profiles of 35 women in our previous edition. Nominations must be received by Monday, October 15, 2018. Click here to learn more about the criteria and to submit a nomination.

Deal news
AlixPartners is acquiring independent financial advisory and interim management firm Zolfo Cooper. Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP is representing AlixPartners and Wollmuth Maher & Deutsch LLP is representing Zolfo Cooper.

Clearlake Capital Group is buying ASP Unifrax Holdings from American Securities. Unifrax is a supplier of high-performance fibers and inorganic materials used in emission control, thermal management, filtration, battery and fire protection systems. Goldman Sachs and William Blair are advising Unifrax. Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, UBS Investment Bank, RBC Capital Markets and Stifel are providing financing.

Online photo printer Snapfish is buying CafePress (Nasdaq: PRSS), an online retailer of personalized gifts. Needham & Co. and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP are advising CafePress. Arent Fox LLP is representing Snapfish.

H.I.G. Capital has invested in Iron Bow Technologies, an IT services for the government and healthcare industries.

Slack, a messaging app, has purchased Astro, which allows workers to view their messages in one place. Slack also recently bought Missions, which allows users to automate tasks, and agreed to buy messaging programs Hipchat and Stride.

For more deal announcements, see The weekly wrap: Inspire Brands, Kettle Cuisine, Sirius XM.

For ongoing coverage of private equity fundraising activities, see our weekly column: PE fundraising scorecard: Three Hills Capital and Triton Fund.

Featured content
Food & beverage M&A offers plenty of mouth-watering deals. Giants Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) and PepsiCo Inc. (Nasdaq: PEP) update their product lines with healthy offerings, while private equity firms, such as Brynwood Partners, breathe new life into tried and true brands, like Pillsbury. And lots of buyers experiment with meal kits and delivery methods, fueling M&A. Read the full story: 9 food & beverage companies loved by consumers and dealmakers alike.

Strategic buyers leverage data, sell more snacks and cater to seniors. Mergers & Acquisitions outlines the M&A strategies of 8 corporations, including Best Buy, Energizer, Fortune Brands, Hershey, Nike, P&G, Stanley Black & Decker and Tyson Foods. See the full story: Best Buy, Hershey, Nike, P&G and more wield M&A to grow.

Tyson Foods Inc. (NYSE: TSN), the owner of Hillshire Farm, wants to “feed the world” with its protein brands and will seek acquisitions to help. How Tyson is focusing on what it does best through M&A.

Between 70 and 80 percent of all M&A integration projects fall short of delivering anticipated value. This isn't because the acquisition target is somehow subpar, it's because the acquiring firm lacks a strong integration strategy. Read the full story: How to accelerate value in the first 100 days after an acquisition.

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.

Events
M&A East, hosted by ACG Philadelphia and held Oct. 24-25, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, brings together 1,300 top strategic and financial dealmakers and leading middle-market advisors for deal sourcing and networking. Featured speakers include Walter Robb, former CEO Whole Foods, and Chris Voss, former FBI lead hostage negotiator. The Women in Dealmaking session will focus on Women in the Board Room.

Exponent Evening with Tequila Casa Dragones, hosted by Exponent Women LLC, a networking group for female dealmakers, held Oct. 25 at The Dream Downtown in New York, features tequila, food and a conversation between Bertha Gonzales Nieves, co-founder and CEO of Tequila Casa Dragones, and Mary Kathleen Flynn, editor-in-chief of Mergers & Acquisitions. For more on networking group’s previous event, see Exponent drew 200 women dealmakers to event featuring Sallie Krawcheck.

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.

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