M&A wrap: Pfizer, Therachon, Digital Colony, EQT, Zayo, Wind Point, Audax

pfizerhq
Signage is displayed at the Pfizer Inc. Kendall Square Research and Development Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., on Monday, Nov. 23, 2015. Pfizer Inc. and Allergan Plc agreed to combine in a record $160 billion deal, creating a drugmaking behemoth called Pfizer Plc with products from Viagra to Botox and a low-cost tax base. Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) is buying biotechnology company Therachon Holding AG for up to $810 million. Pfizer is paying $340 million up front and up to another $470 million based on future milestones. Therachon focuses on developing potential treatments for achondroplasia and short bowel syndrome. Achondroplasia is a genetic condition and the most common form of short-limbed dwarfism. It can result in serious cardiovascular, neurological and metabolic complications for approximately 250,000 people worldwide, and there are currently no approved treatments for achondroplasia, according to the two companies. “Through the acquisition of Therachon, we believe that we have a significant opportunity to transform the lives of young people with achondroplasia who courageously endure lifelong complications from short-limb dwarfism,” says Seng Cheng, senior vice president and chief scientific officer of Pfizer’s rare disease research unit. “Pfizer’s existing research programs for pediatric growth disorders provide a complementary setting for this potential breakthrough therapy.” In 2018, Pfizer and Bain Capital formed Cerevel Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company that is focused on developing drug candidates to treat disorders of the central nervous system. Also in 2018, Pfizer announced plans to invest $600 million into its venture capital arm Pfizer Ventures to back early-stage neuroscience companies, particularly those that focus on neuro-degeneration, neuro-inflammation and neuro-metabolic disorders. Advisors to Therachon include: Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), Cooley and Homburger AG. Advisors to Pfizer on the Therachon deal include: Arnold & Porter and Lenz & Staehelin.

Healthcare companies are spending more on information technology than ever before. Private equity firms including Bain Capital, Great Hill Partners, GTCR, New Heritage Capital and the Riverside Co., are investing in the innovations most in demand, including big data, SaaS and artificial intelligence. See 5 private equity-backed healthcare technology deals.

DEAL NEWS
Digital Colony Partners and EQT have agreed to acquire fiber network owner Zayo Group Holdings Inc. for $14.3 billion in a deal that will take the fiber-network owner private. Read the full story from Bloomberg News: EQT, Digital Colony, buy Zayo.

Meritor Inc. (NYSE: MTOR), a maker of automotive parts, is buying AxleTech from the Carlyle Group (Nasdaq: CG) for $175 million. AxleTech is a technology company that designs, engineers, manufactures, sells and services drivetrain systems and components, with a focus on off-highway applications. Latham & Watkins is advising Carlyle.

Wind Point Partners has acquired A&R Logistics, a provider of dry bulk logistic services for the chemicals and plastic sectors, from Mason Wells. Advisors to A&R include: RBC Capital Markets and Quarles & Brady. Advisors to Wind Point include Kirkland & Ellis and KPMG. Financing was provided by: Antares Capital, Bain Capital, First Eagle Investment Management and Varagon Capital.

Audax Private Equity has acquired Chartis, an advisory firm for academic medical centers, integrated healthcare delivery networks and hospitals, from Riordan, Lewis & Haden | Equity Partners. Advisors to Chartis include: Lincoln International and Winston & Strawn.

Apax Partners has purchased Trade Me Group Ltd. in a deal that values the target at around $1.7 billion. Trade Me is a online marketplace and classified advertising platform in New Zealand.

Coupa Software (Nasdaq: COUP) has purchased Exari for $215 million. The target allows customers to manage contract lifecycle management services, including contract request, creation, approvals and negotiations.

Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) has acquired a stake in Earthport, a company that offers cross-border payment services to banks, money transfer service providers and businesses.

Center Rock Capital Partners has invested in Signature Systems Group, a manufacturer of ground protection products.

CJ Foods America Corp., a subsidiary of CJ CheilJedang, has acquired frozen foods company Schwan's Co. Piper Jaffray (NYSE: PJC) advised Schwan's.

PEOPLE MOVES
Bryan Yeazel has been named CEO at Littlejohn & Co.-backed outdoor recreational products maker PlayPower. Yeazel was previously the CEO of logistics and distribution company World and Main LLC.

David Arnold and Gavin Gordon have joined law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP as partners. They were both previously with Kirkland & Ellis, and they focus on private equity and M&A.

FEATURED CONTENT
Call for nominations: Mergers & Acquisitions has opened up the nomination process for the second annual 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. For the Rising Stars of Private Equity, 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. As a general rule of thumb, we are looking for candidates beyond entry-level investing but before making partner. 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 TO NOMINATE A RISING STAR OF PRIVATE EQUITY
Click here for the 2018 Rising Stars of Private Equity.

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, which recently won Mergers & Acquisitions’ 2018 M&A Mid-Market Award for Investment Bank of the Year. “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.

The potential for merger-related disruption has banks and credit unions eyeing Denver. Seven banks based in the market have been sold in the last two years, including Citywide Banks, Guaranty Bancorp and CoBiz Financial. Those deals have competitors eager to hire lenders and bring in new customers. Read the full story: Mergers stir up competition in Denver banking market.

Technology permeates dealmaking today. “Tech is, more or less, touching everything,” as the authors of the 2019 BDO Technology Outlook Survey put it. You can see the impact of tech throughout the 2018 winners of Mergers & Acquisitions’ M&A Mid-Market Awards, especially Luminate Capital Partners founder Hollie Hayne scoring Dealmaker of the Year for raising a second fund to invest in enterprise software companies and TA Associates winning Private Equity Firm of the Year for investing a record $2.8 billion in new portfolio companies, most of which are infused with technology.

Related: Why private equity firms still love technology
Related: 10 private equity firms share strategies for tech M&A.

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.

Genstar Capital, Audax, 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 and HarbourVest.

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

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.

EVENTS
InterGrowth 2019 takes place May 6-8 at the Waldorf Astoria & Hilton Bonnet Creek in Orlando, Florida.

Innovation Works holds its second annual AI/Robotics Venture Fair in Pittsburgh May 15-16.

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 & 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.

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