M&A wrap: Penn National, Barstool Sports, Warren Buffett, Stanley Black, Comtech, CenterOak, M&A Mid-Market Award Nominations

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Casino operator Penn National Gaming Inc. (Nasdaq: PENN) is buying a 36 percent stake in digital media sports company Barstool Sports for $163 million. Under the deal, Penn will become Barstool's exclusive gaming partner for up to 40 years and will have the right to use the Barstool Sports brand for all Penn's online and retail sports betting products. Barstool is backed by the Chernin Group, and the investment firm is keeping a stake in the target. "This exciting new partnership with Barstool Sports reflects our strategy to continue evolving from the nation’s largest regional gaming operator, with 41 properties in 19 states, to a best-in-class omni-channel provider of retail and online gaming and sports betting entertainment," says Penn CEO Jay Snowden. Companies are looking to take advantage of online gaming opportunities after the Supreme Court legalized sports betting, and that is spurring dealming activity. For example, in 2019, Flutter Entertainment announced plans to buy the parent company of PokerStars for $6 billion. About 26 million Americans are expected to place some sort of wager on SuperBowl LIV, according to the American Gaming Association. That number is three million higher from 2019. SuperBowl LIV is taking place on Sunday. Feb. 2 with the San Francisco 49ers taking on the Kansas City Chiefs. "The chance to combine our content and fans with Penn National's massive footprint, and to develop a unique and compelling omni-channel approach together, was for us a no brainer," adds Barstool CEO Erika Nardini. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher is advising Chernin.

Mergers & Acquisitions has opened up the nomination process for the 13th Annual M&A Mid-Market Awards, which will honor leading dealmakers and deals that set the standard for transactions in the middle market in 2019. Last year’s winners included: Hollie Haynes, who took home Dealmaker of the Year for raising a second fund for Luminate Capital Partners. Nominations are accepted only through our electronic forms. The deadline is Friday, Feb. 7, 2020. There is no fee. For more information on the nomination process and what we seek in winning candidates, see Call for nominations: Submissions for the M&A Mid-Market Awards due Feb. 7.

DEAL NEWS
Warren Buffett is getting out of the newspaper business. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. agreed to sell its BH Media unit and its 30 daily newspapers to Lee Enterprises Inc., which owns papers including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, for $140 million in cash. Lee has been managing the papers for Buffett’s company since 2018, and Berkshire is loaning Lee the money for the purchase. Buffett, who got a job delivering papers as a teenager and invested in the industry to capitalize on its one-time local advertising stronghold, lamented last year that most newspapers are “toast.” Read the full story by Bloomberg News: Warren Buffett throws in the towel on his newspaper empire.

Stanley Black & Decker (NYSE: SWK) is buying aeropsace parts distributor Consolidated Aerospace Manufacturing for up to $1.5 billion. "Growing and diversifying our Industrial business through M&A is a key priority for the Company and a focus of our strategic capital deployment," says Stanley Black CEO James Loree. About $200 million of the purchase price is being held back pending regulatory approval of the Boeing 737 to return to service.

Comtech Telecommunications Corp. (Nasdaq: CMTL) is acquiring Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. (Nasdaq: GILT) for $533 million. The target offers satellite-based broadband communications services. "The acquisition better positions Comtech to take advantage of key marketplace trends, particularly the growing demand for satellite connectivity and the enormous long-term opportunity set that is emerging in the secure wireless communications market," says Comtech CEO Fred Kornberg. Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), Proskauer Rose LLP and Goldfarb Seligman & Co., are advising Comtech. Alnitak & Co. Inc., Jefferies LLC, Quilty Analytics LLC and Naschitz Brandes Amir & Co. are advising Gilat.

C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. (Nasdaq: CHRW) is buying Roadrunner Transportation Systems Inc.'s (NYSE: RRTS) prime distribution services business for $225 million. The target operates five logistics warehouses. Oppenheimer and Debevoise & Plimpton are advising Roadrunner.

CenterOak Partners-backed FullSpeed Automotive has acquired American LubeFast, a provider of quick lube services with 50 total locations in Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and Alabama.

Social media analytics company NetBase is merging with Quid, a provider AI-driven text data.

Interactive production company Thinkingbox has acquired digital media agency Welikesmall.

Arc70 has raised it seccond at $230 million. The investment focuses on the development of affordable housing. Eaton Partners served as placement agent.

DEAL TRENDS
Alpine Investors, a software and services-focused private equity firm, today announced that it has achieved Certified B Corp. status for meeting one of the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. The certification awarded by B Lab, a leading global non-profit organization focused on business as a force for good, demonstrates Alpine’s continued commitment to investing in a way that enables people and businesses to thrive.

PEOPLE MOVES
Joe Lawler has been promoted to manaaging director at private equity firm Wind Point Partners. He joined the firm in 2009, and focuses on the consumer and food sectors.

Pedro Guimaraes has joined PE Vestar Capital Partners as a senior advisor where is focusing on the testing, inspection and certification sector. Guimaraes was previously an executive with the Bureau Veritas.

FEATURED CONTENT
If there’s anything M&A professionals dislike, it’s uncertainty. And heading into 2020, there’s more than enough uncertainty to go around, including questions about the economy, international trade, impeachment, domestic politics and more. The funny thing is, the lack of clarity may actually make the first half of the year a great time for M&A, as dealmakers push to close transactions before the looming uncertainty of Election Day and its outcome. We conducted interviews with 8 investment bankers and other M&A advisors. Some said the first half of the year will be robust, while others said the uncertainty may have a negative impact throughout 2020. Read the full story, What’s ahead for M&A in 2020? We ask 8 advisors.

Mergers & Acquisitions has named the 2020 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. This marks the fifth year we have produced the list, which recognizes female leaders with significant influence inside their companies and in the wider dealmaking world. It’s been gratifying to watch the project evolve over the years – and become more influential itself. This year, we received more nominations than ever before. As a result, we expanded the number honored to 42 in 2020, up from 36 in 2019. Many dealmakers are new to our list, including Rockwood Equity Partners' Kate Faust, William Blair's Shay Brokemond and Avante Capital Partners' Ivelisse Simon. Read our full coverage of all the champions of change on our list, including Q&As with each individual.

Mergers & Acquisitions examines the impact of 7 technologies on M&A in the retail sector. Read the whole series:

Overview: Retail Tech M&A: 7 Technologies Driving Change
Retail Tech M&A #1: Nike, McDonald's, PayPal, add customization, IoT
Retail Tech M&A #2: Why Walmart and other retailers are buying artificial intelligence startups
Retail Tech M&A #3: Amazon leads race to build fulfillment centers
Retail Tech M&A #4: Do robots fill orders faster?
Retail Tech M&A #5: Voice recognition gives retailers more ways to communicate
Retail Tech M&A #6: Data improves customer service
Retail Tech M&A #7: Demand for convenience drives growth in mobile ordering

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 s for each, see Special reports overview: M&A Mid-Market Awards, Rising Stars, Most Influential Women.

EVENTS
The 8th Independent Sponsors Summit is taking place from Jan. 28-29 at the Harmonie Club In New York.

ACG New York is hosting the 12th annual healthcare conference and bourbon tasting at the Metropolitan Club in New York on Feb. 27.

InterGrowth 2020 is taking place at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas from April 20-22.

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