Monroe Capital has raised a new collateralized loan obligation fund, Monroe Capital MML CLO IX, at $454 million, marking the middle-market lender’s fourth CLO fundraise since March 2018. “We continue to see strong demand from investors around the world as our middle market CLOs offer investors a unique entry point to access the U.S. middle market,” says Monroe portfolio manager Jeremy VanderMeid. CLOs offer attractive risk-return profiles compared with other forms of corporate debt, attracting lenders, along with other firms to raise new funds. Earlier in 2019, Hayfin Capital Management launched its first U.S. CLO. The Carlyle Group LP (Nasdaq: CG) is actively raising CLO funds, and Wellfleet Credit Partners, the credit advisory division of Littlejohn & Co., is fundraising.

Mergers & Acquisitions has launched a new weekly 7-part series on retail technology M&A. We’re kicking it off with an in-depth look at how the Internet of Things is transforming retail and how the trend is playing out in dealmaking. Nike (NYSE: NKE) is making acquisitions to enhance its customer experiences. Nike bought Zodiac and Invertex Ltd., a pair of innovative digital startups helping the athletic apparel maker get closer to customers. McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD), the world’s largest restaurant chain, is gobbling up digital startups to improve customer experiences by capitalizing on IoT innovations- a strategy new CEO Chris Kempczinski supports. The company is buying personalization company Dynamic Yield for a reported $300 million in its largest deal in more than 20 years, and will use the software to customize drive-thru menus. Check back every Friday throughout the holiday shopping season for a new installment.

Middle-market private equity firm Alpine Investors has raised its seventh fund at $1 billion. The firm targets deals worth up to $400 million in enterprise value. Alpine recently invested in ophthalmology platform Midwest Vision Partners, as well as HVAC, plumbing, and electrical services platform Apex Service Partners. Kirkland Ellis advised Alpine and Evecore (NYSE: EVR) served as placement agent.

Cloud communications company Ribbon Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: RBBN) is buying ECI Telecom Group, a network services provider to data center operators, for $324 million. The two companies say network providers need to upgrade their infrastructure with the rising demand for 5G.

Advent International is acquiring Mariana Tek, a software provider to fitness centers. The target’s technology helps businesses with membership management, e-commerce and promotions.

Pike Street Capital has invested in third party logistics provider QuickBox. The target offers fulfillment and inventory management services to businesses in the consumer, healthcare, personal and pet care sectors.

Tailwind Capital has bought Banner Solutions, a wholesale distributor of door hardware, from High Road Capital Partners.

FFL Partners has invested in Orthodontic Partners, an orthordontic services organization that has offices in Michigan and Connecticut.

Former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick joined the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential campaign Thursday amid growing concerns in the party that the existing field won’t produce a nominee strong enough. Patrick, now the managing director of Bain Capital, announced in a video that he is running “to build a better, more sustainable, more inclusive American dream for the next generation.” Bain was co-founded by Mitt Romney, another former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate. Read the full story by Bloomberg News: Bain Capital’s Deval Patrick joins crowded 2020 Democratic presidential campaign.

Carl Theobald has joined private equity firm Gryphon Investors as an operating partner and co-head of the firm’s software group. Theobald is a former Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) executive.

Esteemed M&A attorney Martin (“Marty”) Lipton was honored at a black-tie event hosted by the Institute of International Education at The Pierre in New York on Oct. 30. Called the “the king of M&A,” the co-founder of New York law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, is well known to dealmakers as the architect of the anti-takeover defense strategy known as the “poison pill.” Lipton was awarded the IIE Stephen P. Duggan Award for Mutual Understanding “in recognition of his lifetime of extraordinary achievement and his lasting contribution to international higher education. Read the full story: Martin Lipton, inventor of the “poison pill” anti-takeover defense honored by IIE.

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. The New York firm announced the final close of its latest global real estate fund recently. 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. Read the full story: “Complete control” is the beauty of private equity, says Blackstone’s Stephen A. Schwarzman.

The private equity model has held up very well over the decades, continuing to outperform the public markets, even as economic cycles come and go. But the rate of growth has slowed, leading PE firms to seek adjacent areas of business to expand. As PE firms face increased pressure to produce higher returns on their investments, many of them are turning to a familiar area of business: lending. Adams Street Partners, Balance Point Capital, Carlyle and VSS are all actively engaged in lending. Read the full story: Private equity firms are becoming lenders. Here’s why.

Prokanga is a unique recruiting firm that offers full-time and flexible recruiting services. Prokanga is managed by co-founders Jamie Cheney and Lesley Finer (pictured). Mergers & Acquisitions spoke with Finer, who has more than 10 years of recruiting for the finance industry and leads the finance practice at Prokanga. For more, see Why financial services pros need flexibility.

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.

Online retailers, including Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), are adding more fulfillment centers to meet consumer demands for faster shipping times. The owners of these properties along with the contractors that build them are becoming prime M&A targets. More local fulfillment centers means faster delivery times and lower last-mile costs to both retailers and customers. Read the full story: Amazon and Walmart open more logistics centers, driving warehouse M&A.

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.

In New York, it’s Middle Market Week. The 17th Annual Private Equity Wine Tasting Gala takes place on Nov. 13 at Gotham Hall. The PE roundtable series is being held on Nov. 14, and the breakfast program takes place on the same date at the Winston & Strawn offices.

Exponent Women is hosting a Family Office Event with Owens Group at LX Gallery in New York on Nov. 21. Mergers & Acquisitions editor-in-chief Mary Kathleen Flynn is moderating a panel.

The Annual Winter Conference AM&AA is taking place in Scottsdale, Arizon fron Jan. 8-10.

Deal Wave is being hosted by ACG Orange Country at the Ritz-Carlton-Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, California on Jan. 9.

ACG San Diego is hosting the Capital Conference 2020 at the Omni San Diego Hotel on Feb. 13.