Japanese meal-kit company Oisix ra daichi Inc. is buying counterpart Purple Carrot in a move to expand in the U.S. Purple Carrot, based in Needham, Massachusetts, offers plant-based meal-kits. “We have been looking for the right opportunity to expand our reach and capabilities, and are thrilled to be joining forces with Purple Carrot,” says Oisix CEO Kohey Takashima. “This acquisition gives us the chance to make a global impact. At the same time, it represents an exciting step in our growth trajectory to expand our operations and bring the first plant-based meal kits to Japan.” The deal is valued up to $30 million. Oisix has about $580 million in revenue. The company has seven seven distribution centers throughout Japan, and works with a network of more than 4,000 farmers to provide fresh produce to consumers. “By partnering with this Japanese powerhouse, we’ll bring Purple Carrot plant-based meals to even more consumers and significantly increase the positive impact of our business well into the future,” says Purple Carrot CEO Andy Levitt. Demand for quicker, easier and healthier food options is driving M&A activity in the meal-kit delivery sector.

Rising Stars deadline is tomorrow. Deadline approaches for Mergers & Acquisitions’ 2019 Rising Stars of Private Equity. Last year, we named 11 PE investors to the list, including Ethan Liebermann, who was recently promoted from principal to director of TA Associates, and Jennifer Roach Pacini, a vice president of Yellow Wood Partners. We look for individuals who are full-time private equity investors and whose best days are yet to come. These are the folks you predict will one day play a key leadership role at your PE firm – or will head up their own. There is no age cutoff. We publish the list online in July and in the July/August issue of the magazine. The deadline for nominations is end of day Thursday, May 23, 2019. Nominations will be accepted only through our online form. There is no fee.

Click here for the 2018 Rising Stars of Private Equity.

Nascar Holdings Inc. agreed to buy International Speedway Corp. (Nasdaq: ISCA) for about $2 billion in cash, more tightly combining two companies already controlled by the France family. Read the full story by Bloomberg News: Nascar buys International Speedway.

JAB Holding-backed Pret A Manger is buying U.K.-based vegetarian restaurant chain Eat. “The purpose of this deal is to serve a growing demand of vegetarian and vegan customers who want delicious, high quality food and drink options,” says Pret CEO Clive Schlee.

Cove Hill Partners has invested in online auction house LiveAuctioneers. Advisors to the target include: Harris WIlliams and DLA Piper. Advisors to Cove Hill include: Ropes & Gray and PwC.

Frontier Capital has invested in Phone2Action, a digital platform that allows citizens to connect to lawmakers through social media, e-mail, text and phone. Lightning Partners advised the target.

ParkOhio (Nasdaq: PKOH), a provider of supply chain management services and highly-engineered manufactured products, is buying Erie Press Systems, a maker of hydraulic and mechanical presses.

Canopy Growth Corp. is acquiring U.K. skincare brand This Works for 43 million pounds ($54 million) in cash, the world’s largest cannabis producer’s latest move to expand in Europe. Read the full story by Bloomberg News: Canopy buys skincare company in European expansion.

Private investment firm Granite Creek Capital Partners has raised its second fund at $200 million that will provide equity and debt capital to lower middle-market companies. The fund will focus on the agribusiness, business services, healthcare and manufacturing sectors, and will invest between $10 million to $20 million per transaction.

Tracy Harris has joined private equity firm Siris as a partner and head of investor relations and product strategy. Harris was most recently with Stepstone Group.

Mark Panico has been named CEO at Huron Capital-backed power cord and cable manufacturer StayOnline. Panico was most recently president of the data communications division at Legrand.

Corey Peters has been promoted from CFO to COO at middle-market mezzanine firm Yukon Partners. Peters joined Yukon in 2012.

Technology is revolutionizing the healthcare industry and fueling an explosion of transactions. Some of the most promising areas of innovation are: big data, medical devices, revenue cycle management, Software-as-a-Service and payment processing. “Healthcare IT is the largest cottage industry in the world,” says Sam Hendler, who leads healthcare IT deals at Harris Williams. “Healthcare IT is a highly fragmented, multi-billion-dollar market with thousands of companies focused on different $250 million to $500 million sub-markets. Savvy investors see there is an opportunity to aggregate assets and build platforms of scale. It’s an incredibly exciting time in healthcare IT.” For an in-depth look at five technologies driving M&A in healthcare, see Healthcare’s must-have technologies. And for recent transactions that showcase the trends, see 5 private equity-backed healthcare IT deals.

For more on how technology is driving M&A and private equity investments see:
Smart cities, IoT, AI, robots, edge computing will fuel next wave of tech M&A.
Why private equity firms still love technology
10 private equity firms share strategies for tech M&A.

Genstar Capital, Audax and HarbourVest ranked as the top U.S. private equity firms of 2018, based on volume of completed deals, according to PitchBook. Check out Mergers & Acquisitions’ profiles of 21 firms that led the league tables. Top private equity firms: Genstar, Audax, HarbourVest.

Also see: Top investment banks in PE-backed deals: KPMG, Houlihan, GS, William Blair.

At least two-thirds of U.S. homes have at least one pet, and people are spending more money on their pets than ever, driving M&A across the entire pet care sector. Read the full story: Demand for animal health products and services rises, driving deals.

One of the most significant opportunities to impact the success of due diligence is understanding how to leverage data. In today’s market, the ability to tap into the volume and variety of big data can provide private equity stakeholders with the competitive edge in operational due diligence. Read the full guest article by Maine Pointe’s Mark McTigue and Nathanael Powrie: How data can help PE accelerate value at due diligence.

Visa’s recent green light from U.K. regulators to complete its Earthport acquisition was more than just the clearing of a regulatory hurdle — it was a revealing look at how important it has become for the card networks to diversify. Read the full story: Small cross-border deals play a big role for Visa, Mastercard.

Excelled. Innovated. Inspired. That’s what the eight winners of Mergers & Acquisitions’ 12th Annual M&A Mid-Market Awards did in 2018. Our awards honor the leading dealmakers and deals that set the standard for transactions in the middle market. In addition to Nike, award winners include: Fortive, TA Associates, the Riverside Co., Harris Williams, Monroe Capital, Goodwin and Luminate Capital Partners’ Hollie Haynes. Read our full coverage: Meet the winners of the M&A Mid-Market Awards: Nike, Fortive, TA, Harris Williams.

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. Related: Meet the 2019 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A.

Read more about Mergers & Acquisitions’ three annual special reports, including the M&A Mid-Market Awards, the Rising Stars of Private Equity, and the Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A.

ACG Chicago hosts the Midwest Capital Connection, at The Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, May 21-22.

ACG New York, ACG Boston and ACG Philadelphia are holding the Industrial Conference with Value Creation at the Infor in New York on June 6. The event is part of the Northeast Industry Tour.

ACG Minnesota hosts the the Upper Midwest ACG Capital Connection at the Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, The Depot, June 10-11.

ACG Boston brings together 700-plus dealmakers for DealFest Northeast and DealSource Select 2019 at the Cyclorama and the State Room, June 12-13.

Exponent Women hosts the Annual Exchange, which brings a trusted network of women dealmakers together for a focused day of robust content and networking, at Second in New York, on July 11. The Exchange provides attendees with opportunities to establish new connections, reinforce existing ones and absorb timely and relevant knowledge from industry leaders.