M&A wrap: Prudential, Assurance, TPG, Luminate, GTCR, May River

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Prudential Financial Inc. (NYSE: PRU) is buying direct-to-consumer health and financial services company Assurance IQ for up to $3.5 billion. Prudential is paying $2.35 billion upfront and up to another $1.15 billion in earnouts. “Assurance accelerates the strategy and growth potential of Prudential’s financial wellness businesses, bringing us closer to more people across the entire socio-economic spectrum to better serve the full picture of their needs,” says Prudential CEO Charles Lowrey. Assurance uses data analytics to match customers with customized services when buying auto, life and health insurance. The target offers consumers options to buy entirely online or with the help of a technology-assisted live agent. "This approach is underpinned by an ongoing shift in consumer preferences, whereby individuals increasingly begin their research for personalized financial services online and then seek consultation with human experts to complete their purchase," the two companies added in a release. Companies are becoming more efficient, and businesses are relying on data to improve their operations, including offering more personalized services. Data management, data virtualization and artificial intelligence are among the software developments appealing to strategic buyers.

Bank M&A soared all summer, with dozens of deal announcements, creating the perfect backdrop for Piper Jaffray’s July news that it would acquire Sandler O’Neill. “There has been a lot of consolidation in the bank space,” Piper Jaffray CEO Chad Abraham told Mergers & Acquisitions. “Frankly that’s been very consistent over the last 10 years and has created a great opportunity for Sandler. But there are still 5,000 banks, and we expect the pace of consolidation to continue.” Piper Jaffray is determined to be the market leader in all the industries it does business in. The Minneapolis-based boutique investment bank currently dominates some of the sectors it serves, especially healthcare. With the acquisition of New York-based Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP, the renamed firm Piper Sandler will instantly become a leading investment bank in financial services, a sector it has sought to expand in for several years. “We’ve had conversations with Sandler for many years, and we’ve admired their franchise” Abraham explained. For analysis of the Piper Sandler deal, see Counting on bank M&A: Why Piper Jaffray bought Sandler O'Neill.

TPG Capital is buying CollabNet VersionOne from Vector Capital. CollabNet helps businesses develop software to assist them in producing better results and workflows. “We have studied the software delivery and devops space for several years. The space is highly fragmented with several smaller vendors addressing the low end of the market,” say Nehal Raj and Art Heidrich of TPG. Advisors to TPG include: Barcalys, RBC Capital Markets and Ropes & Gray. Advisors to the sellers include: KeyBank Capital Markets and Sidley Austin.

Luminate Capital Partners has invested in Thought Industries. The target's technology offers customer training and learning software services. ACG advised Thought. Luminate was advised by Kirkland & Ellis.

GTCR-backed Resonetics has completed its acquisition of Tru Tech Systems, a supplier of precision procession services for the medical device sector. GTCR invested in Resonetics in February 2018. GTCR managing director Sean Cunningham says: "We expect to continue to aggressively pursue tuck-in acquisitions as well as more transformative opportunities." Kirkland & Ellis and PwC advised GTCR.

May River Capital has formed Advance Material Processing, which will focus on investing in material processing equipment for the food and beverage, pharmaceuticals and chemicals sectors. May River has also acquired Kason Corp., a maker of processing equipment. Winston & Strawn advised May River. Advisors to Kason include: Hennepin Partners and Paul Hastings. Financing was provided by Abacus Finance and Northstar Capital.

Sedgwick has completed the acquisition of York Risk Services Group, a provider of claims administration, managed care, specialized loss adjusting, pool administration and loss control solutions. Advisors to Sedgwick include: BofA Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP and Clifford Chance US LLP. Advisors to York include: Jefferies, J.P. Morgan Securities (NYSE: JPM) and Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP. Financing was provided by BofA Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley Senior Funding.

HC Private Investments has acquired a majority stake in Epicurean Butter Co., a maker of finishing butters for the foodservice industry. Winston & Strawn is advising HC. The target is being advised by Integris Partners. Financing was provided by Signature Bank.

The Carlyle Group (Nasdaq: CG) has invested Euro Techno Com Group, a distributor of cable and telcom equipment and provider of telecom logistics services.

Genstar Capital-backed Mercer Global Advisors has acquired wealth management advisor Sage Future FInancial. The acquisition increases Mercer's assets under management to over $16.5 billion.

Tony Pulice has joined private equity firm Huron Capital as a partner. He was previously Rockbridge Growth Equity Management.

Justin Yi was hired by law firm Orrick as a partner. Yi was most recently with Klee, Tuchin, Bogdanoff & Stern, and focuses on private equity and M&A.

Looking for a glimpse of what’s to come in the private equity industry? Meet the 10 dealmakers named by Mergers & Acquisitions as the 2019 Rising Stars of Private Equity:

Austin Collier, Branford Castle Partners
Kevin Cunningham, LNC Partners
Shawn Domanic, Sterling Partners
Stephen Jeschke, GTCR
Danielle Lalli, Huron Capital
Jason Mironov, TA Associates
James Oh, Transom Capital Group
Sophia Popova, Summit Partners
Pavan Tripathi, Bregal Sagemount
Christine Wang, Francisco Partners

The Rising Stars share a common set of core values. They are passionate about building companies. They are naturally curious and interested in changing things for the better. They enjoy working with portfolio company managers, investment bankers and other deal team members. They appreciate the responsibility and autonomy their firms have given them. They are grateful for the leaders who have helped shape their careers, and they are generous with their own time when it comes to nurturing the next generation. As the PE industry goes through a generational shift and many firm founders retire, it's well worth getting to know these emerging leaders. They represent the future of private equity. 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.

The New York Yankees are in first place in the American League East division and have one of the best overall records in Major League Baseball. Alex Rodriguez is best known as the former Yankees star who hit 696 home runs over the course of his 22-year baseball career, but today he’s making a name for himself as an investor as the founder and CEO of A-Rod Corp. One recent example: While serving as a guest judge on CNBC’s Shark Tank, Rodriguez backed Ice Shaker, an insulated bottle maker founded by former National Football Leaguefullback Chris Gronkowski. Rodriguez talked about his life off the field as a savvy investor since his 20’s as the keynote speaker at EisnerAmper’s 4th annual Alternative Investment Summit at the The Museum of Modern Art on June 19. Among the topics discussed in a conversation led by Charles Weinstein, CEO of EisnerAmper: Rodriguez’ childhood as the son of a single mom; his investment thesis, which shares much with other middle-market investors; how he’s helping singer/dancer/actress Jennifer Lopez (to whom he became engaged in March) transition her business initiatives from licensing her brands to owning them; and how one day he just might buy a baseball team. Read the full story: A-Rod talks Ice Shaker, NRG eSports, J. Lo & maybe buying a baseball team.

Activity and urgency characterize the current dealmaking environment, say investment bankers and other M&A advisors interviewed by Mergers & Acquisitions. After a record-breaking 2018, forecasts for 2019 remain bullish. Advisors point to a lot of cash that must be deployed by strategic buyers and private equity firms alike; a healthy U.S. economy; and low interest rates. Competition for high-quality targets has never been more intense, especially for technology providers, they report, which means sellers are commanding high prices. It all adds up to a sellers' market. A mood of urgency prevails, as dealmakers seek to close deals quickly, while conditions remain favorable. The advisors interviewed for this story say they don’t see signs of a recession this year; however they are closely monitoring bellwethers, including corporate earnings, wage pressure, global supply chains and slowdowns abroad. They are recommending that clients be prepared for an economic slowdown in the next two years. Specialization is the name of the game, and investment bankers advise clients to seek targets with business-model stability, limited cyclical exposure and a recurring revenue business model. Technology, business services, healthcare, consumer and manufacturing are among the most promising sectors. Read the story: 8 M&A advisors urge closing deals now, while economy stays strong.

“We know that different people from different walks of life make us a better firm,” said Adam Miller, director of global talent management at the Riverside Co., which employs more than 200 people across four continents, including two female co-fund managers and a female chief operating officer. “We’re creating more opportunities for broader demographics.” Indeed, just about every private equity firm you talk to these days seems intent on becoming attractive to diverse candidates—whether it’s by hiring a chief diversity officer and loosening its dress code (KKR); giving employees flexible hours to spend more time with children (Riverside); offering up to 12 weeks of paid maternity leave and 16 weeks off altogether (ParkerGale); hosting weekly wine-and-cheese gatherings in the summer (Kinzie Capital); or providing on-site professional development and training (Riverside and ParkerGale). Check out: 5 hiring trends in private equity.

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.

BC Partners has joined the growing group of private equity firms selling a minority stake to another PE firm to fuel expansion plans. Earlier in August, the firm, which is headquartered in London with additional offices in New York, Paris and Hamburg, announced it had sold an interest in the firm to New York’s Blackstone Alternative Asset Management for undisclosed terms. PE firms increasingly are selling minority stakes to fund expansion plans. For more see, Why private equity firms sell stakes to other firms.

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.

The Association of Asian American Investment Managers (AAAIM) is holding its annual conference from Sept. 4-5 at Convene at 730 Third Avenue in New York.

The Great Lakes ACG Capital Connection is being held at the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit Hotel in Detroit from Sept. 4-6.

ACG Boston and ACG Connecticut are hosting the 5th Annual ACG New England Fall Conference at Gurney's Newport Resort & Marina in Newport, Rhode Island from Sept. 17-18.

Exponent Women is hosting a fall rooftop networking session at RSM in New York on Oct. 7.

M&A East is taking place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia from Oct. 22-23.

Third Annual Women in Alternative Investments Career Forum is taking place at the New York Hilton on Nov. 8.

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