Mergers & Acquisitions has opened up the nomination process for the fourth 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 Sarah Bradley, who co-founded private equity firm Kainos Capital and 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
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund signed an agreement to invest more than $1 billion in aspiring electric-car maker Lucid Motors Inc., months after building a stake in Elon Musk-led Tesla Inc. (Nasdaq: TSLA). The deal clinches crucial funding needed for Lucid to start making its first model, the Air sedan, in 2020. Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, has been diversifying its economy after the collapse in crude prices, according to Bloomberg News. O'Melveny is representing Lucid. Read the full story: Saudi wealth fund invests in Tesla rival Lucid.

Western & Southern Financial Group is buying Gerber Life Insurance Co. from Nestlé for $1.55 billion. The deal allows Western & Southern to sell insurance products under the Gerber Life brand. For Nestlé, the moves allows the company to focus on its core consumer businesses. "This move is part of the ongoing evolution of our portfolio," says Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider. "It will allow us to invest further in our core food and beverage business and in consumer healthcare." In 2018, Nestlé sold its U.S. chocolate division to Ferrero SpA. Mayer Brown is representing Nestlé on the Gerber Life deal.

Chemicals and ingredients distributor Univar Inc. (NYSE: UNVR) is buying Nexeo Solutions Inc. (Nasdaq: NEXEO) for $2 billion. The target is a provider of chemicals and plastic products. Goldman Sachs & Co. (NYSE: GS) and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz are advising Univar. Moelis & Co. (NYSE: MC) and Weil, Gotshal & Manges are advising Nexeo.

Marsh & McLennan Cos. (NYSE: MMC) is acquiring Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group plc, a provider of insurance, reinsurance and employee benefits related advice, brokerage and associated services, for $6.4 billion. Goldman Sachs, Slaughter and May and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz are advising Marsh & McLennan. J.P. Morgan Chase and Clifford Chance Rogers & Wells are advising Jardine Lloyd.

Recreational vehicle manufacturer Thor Industries Inc. (NYSE: THO) is buying Erwin Hymer Group for €2.1 billion ($2.45 billion). The German-based target produces recreational vehicles that are sold through 1,200 dealerships. J.P. Morgan (NYSE: JPM), Barclays and Baker McKenzie are advising Thor. Macquarie Capital and Hengeler Mueller and Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP are advising Erwin Hymer. J.P. Morgan and Barclays are providing financing.

Privately-held rail system Brightline has purchased XpressWest, a high-speed rail company that has the rights to develop a rail project that will connect to Southern California to Las Vegas. Cravath, Swaine & Moore represented Brightline.

Genstar-backed energy analytics company Drillinginfo has acquired a majority in Oildex, an oil and gas financial automation software firm, from Accel-KKR. The latter will keep a minority stake in the company. The energy industry is teeming with M&A activity, as companies seek to improve operations. Read the full story: 14 smart energy deals.

Center Rock Capital Partners has acquired American Piping Products, a distributor of steel pipe, fittings and valves. The deal marks Center Rock's first investment out of the PE firm's inaugural $580 million that closed in 2018.

Cold Chain Capital, a Fayetteville, N.Y. -based PE firm that focuses on the heating, ventilation, air condition (HVAC) and refrigeration industry has launched. The firm will seek businesses that have between $50 million and $500 million in revenue. Cold Chain is led by industry veteran Greg Deldicque, who previously held roles with United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) subsidiary Carrier, the Boston Consulting Group and Goldman Sachs International.

Audax-backed CoolSys, an operator of HVAC companies, has acquired Ron’s Refrigeration & HVAC LLC, which provides refrigeration and HVAC engineering, service and installation to customers throughout Wisconsin. The acquisition expands CoolSys' services throughout the Midwest.

Investcorp is investing up to $150 million in the second round of the China Everbright Limited New Economy Fund LP, a cross-border asset manager. Investcorp also has an additional co-investment right of up to $100 million. The deal marks Investcorp's first PE investment in China since the firm's inception in 1982.

Westhook Capital has invested in Metco Landscape, a provider of landscaping and maintenance services in Colorado. Los Angeles-based lower middle-market private equity firm Westhook recently raised its inaugural fund at $140 million. Westhook was founded by Michael Hooks, who previously co-founded Black Canyon Capital. Westhook focuses on the business services, consumer, healthcare and industrial sectors. Ceibass Venture Partners LLC advised Metco.

For ongoing coverage of private equity firms that have recently raised funds, see our weekly column, PE fundraising scorecard: Hellman & Friedman and Pine Brook.

People moves
Jennnifer Zhao was hired by Genstar Capital as vice president of investor relations. Zhao was previously a vice president in TPG's fundraising group.

For more on hires and promotions, see CRG promotes Scott Li to managing director.

EY Transaction Advisory Services has published a new book, “The Stress Test Every Business Needs" (Wiley, 2018), which advises companies on their capital agendas, as they face digital disruption, activist investors, recessions and geopolitical threats. The book was written by more than 20 EY leaders, including Americas vice chair Bill Casey.

Featured content
Networking season kicks off with the ACG New England Fall Conference & Clambake, hosted by ACG Boston and ACG Connecticut, held Sept. 17-18, at the Newport Marriott and Newport Vineyards. The event brings together 200 M&A professionals from across the region to foster new relationships and reconnect after the summer. The gathering also provides opportunities to hear updates from seasoned executives on hot industry specific topics, such as disruptive technologies. Featured speakers include: Brian Cooke of Thomas H. Lee Partners; Matthew Hamilton of Summit Partners; Jay Hernandez of Moelis & Co.; Andy O'Brien of Augmenteum Inc.; and Stuart Rose of Mirus Capital Advisors. A private sailboat ride shows off the beauty of Newport Harbor and the Narragansett Bay. For more on other upcoming conferences, see ACG New England Clambake kicks off fall networking.

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.

Meet Mergers & Acquisitions 11 Rising Stars of Private Equity, including John Kos, GTCR; Ethan Liebermann, TA Associates; Jennifer Roach, Yellow Wood Partners; and Afaf Ibraheem Warren, Siris Capital. See: Meet Mergers & Acquisitions' 11 Rising Stars of Private Equity.