M&A wrap: Sabre, Pros, Harvest Partners, Charlesbank, Levine Leichtman

travelsoftware

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. (Even more will travel by car, with AAA putting that number at 49.3 million, the most since 2005). 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). The International Air Transport Association predicts that passenger growth will double in the next 20 years. Pros says airlines want to take ownership of the entire travel journey by converting window shoppers into booked customers. “To meet travelers’ changing expectations while increasing profitability, airlines need a technology partner that is ready to deliver tomorrow’s technological solutions today,” says Sabre CEO Sean Menke. Sabre bought airline technology companies Farelogix and Radixx, while Pros made a deal for digital services firm Travelaer SAS. Check out our full coverage: Heading to Grandma's house for the holidays? Travel companies are gobbling up software providers.

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.

DEAL NEWS
Harvest Partners has bought Service Express from Pamlico Capital. The target provides maintenance and hardware support for data centers. Rothschild, William Blair and Alston & Bird advised the sellers. Moelis & Co. (NYSE: MC), Harris Williams and Kirkland & Ellis advised Harvest.

Charlesbank Capital Partners-backed WolfePak Software has acquired DocVue, a provider of imaging, document management and workflow software. WolfePak offers accounting, regulatory compliance and automation software for the oil and gas industry.

Levine Leichtman Capital Partners has purchased Milton Industries. The latter offers engineered tools, such as gauges, blow guns and lubricators, for the aerospace and defense, agriculture and automotive sectors.

For more deal announcements, see Weekly wrap: Advent, CD&R, PayPal.

To see which firms are fundraising, see PE fundraising scorecard: Balance Point, Bregal Sagemount, Insight Partners, TA.

FEATURED CONTENT
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
The Annual AM&AA Winter Conference 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.

CB Insights hosts The Collective, featuring 39-plus fireside chats, at New World Stages Dec. 10-11. Mergers & Acquisitions editor-in-chief Mary Kathleen Flynn is slated to interview Lance Barton, head of corporate development for dating site developer Match Group.

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