M&A wrap: PayPal, Honey, Minute Media, Derek Jeter, Players' Tribune, Nike, Bumble Bee

paypal

PayPal Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: PYPL) is acquiring Honey Science Corp. for about $4 billion, its largest ever acquisition, adding a startup that amasses valuable data on consumer buying habits and doles out coupons for online bargains. About 17 million people use Honey apps or web browser extensions to find discounts at online shopping sites. Honey services include a browser extension that automatically applies coupons at e-commerce sites. In a statement, PayPal says that Honey’s capabilities will give its customers a better shopping experience, and help merchants drive sales, partly with more timely and personalized offers. As a shopping-focused browser extension, Honey has access to large amounts of customer data. CEO Dan Schulman has signaled that PayPal, with more than $10 billion in cash, is on the hunt for more deals after a string of takeovers last year that included Hyperwallet and Simility. Read the full story by Bloomberg News: Paypal acquires online coupon site Honey.

The holiday season represents one of the busiest travel times of the year. Air travel will see the biggest increase in volume during the Thanksgiving holiday with 4.45 million Americans expected to fly, according to the American Automobile Association. With the rise of low cost carriers, airlines are competing to gain more passengers and are looking for ways to make their flying experiences standout. Travel-related technology companies that offer rewards and other services to airlines are attracting buyers, such as Sabre Corp. (Nasdaq: SABR) and Pros (NYSE: PRO). Check out our full coverage: Heading to Grandma's house for the holidays? Travel companies are gobbling up software providers.

DEAL NEWS
Digital media company Minute Media has acquired the Players' Tribune, which was started by former New York Yankees star and Miami Marlins co-owner Derek Jeter. The Players' Tribune is a platform that allows athletes to tell their stories and connect to fans without going through traditional media. The deal will give the target more technology capabilities while expanding its global reach. “When we led this category of athlete-driven stories five years ago, we couldn’t imagine the Players’ Tribune would transform the landscape the way it did,” says Jeter.

Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) is buying an undisclosed stake in Handsfree Labs Inc. The company specializes in step-in shoes, which are popular with consumers who prefer laceless footwear and those with disabilities who have trouble tying them. Nike has made it a priority in recent years to develop products for a wider set of athletes, releasing items that cater to underserved groups. Nike has been using M&A to push its digital strategy. Nike earned Mergers & Acquisitions' 2018 M&A Mid-Market Award for Strategic Buyer of the Year. Read the full story by Bloomberg News: Nike looks to reinvent the loafer with step-in-shoe investment.

Canned tuna producer Bumble Bee Foods is in talks with seafood industry peer FCF Fishery to buy the company during a bankruptcy reorganization, according to Bloomberg News. FCF Fishery, which calls itself the largest tuna supplier in the Western Pacific, has discussed a bid for about $925 million comprised of $275 million of equity and $650 million of debt. Read the full story from Bloomberg News: Bumble Bee in talks with FCF Fishery for bankruptcy sale.

Bregal Sagemount has made a minority investment in SurePrep. The target offers tax automation software mainly to accounting firms. Vista Point Advisors and Inflection Point Law advised SurePrep. Goodwin Procter advised Bregal Sagemount.

Branford Castle Partners-backed Drew Foam Cos. has purchased foam shape molder Davis Core & Pad. Akerman advised Branford Castle.

Rotunda Capital Partners has bought a majority stake in education technology company Trinity3.

Weatherford Capital has invested in CloudFactory, a data provider to artificial intelligence and machine learning businesses.

Salt Creek Capital-backed King Tester Corp. has acquired Cianflone Scientific Group, a manufacturer of testing and measuring equipment.

Gen Cap America has bought Griffin Gear, which makes gearing and gearbox products.

PEOPLE MOVES
Frank Ballantine has joined law firm Dykema as a member. Most recently with Clark Hill, Ballantine advises management teams and boards on M&A, private equity and debt financing.

Jay Gavigan has joined law firm Morrison & Foerster as a partner where he is concentrating on lending and financing.

Christopher Huss was hired by private equity frim Waud Capital as director of portfolio operations. He was most recently with Platinum Equity.

Nozomi Oda was hired by law firm Morrison & Foerster as a partner. Previously with Japan's Financial Services Agency, Oda focuses on private equity and cross-border M&A, particularly in the life sciences sector.

FEATURED CONTENT
As the retail industry's busiest season begins, Mergers & Acquisitions is covering many M&A trends in the sector. We've launched a weekly series on the 7 technologies retailers are investing in: The Internet of Things enables enhanced personalization, such as custom drive-thru menus. Artificial intelligence applications predict customers’ needs. Modern data centers and warehouses fill orders quickly. Robots assist with sorting and packing consumer goods. Voice- and text-assisted technology provides customers with hands-free shopping experiences. Analytics give retailers a better understanding of consumer behavior and habits. Mobile payment processing provides consumers with on-the-go convenience. This week, we're focusing on AI and Why Walmart and other retailers are buying artificial intelligence startups. We've also written about the role warehouses are playing. See: Amazon and Walmart open more logistics centers, driving warehouse M&A. Check back each Friday from now until Christmas for another installment.

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.

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.

EVENTS
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.

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