One sector that private investors are increasingly turning to is packaging, which remains saturated with untapped opportunities. Changing consumer behaviors, sustainability demands and market fragmentation all create a significant opportunity for PE firms to partner with packaging companies looking to remain competitive. The packaging sector has many niche businesses that require special knowledge or equipment, or that may be too small or non-strategic for global enterprises. This means small and medium enterprises can build out scale and realize efficiencies through strategic acquisition. Few people realize how much innovation there is in packaging. Packaging is an increasingly important component of consumer goods. Technological innovations can significantly advance branding and visual appeal for products and simultaneously can increase the shelf-life of perishable goods and enhance customer convenience. Sun Capital has made a number of successful investments in the packaging sector including Albea and Coveris. In 2018, Sun Capital completed the successful sale of Coveris Americas, a manufacturer of flexible plastic packaging. Read the full guest article by Sun Capital's Jeremy Stone: Why private equity likes packaging. 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. Middle-market loans offer a potential growth path for PE firms, Including Adams Street, Balance Point. Carlyle Group (Nasdaq: CG) and VSS , many of whom view credit as a natural extension of their bread-and-butter operations. Read our full coverage: Private equity firms are becoming lenders. Here’s why. At Mergers & Acquisitions, we've begun work on one of our most popular projects of the year: the Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. The deadline for nominations is Oct. 14. Last year, we honored 36 women, including Marilyn Adler (Medley Capital), Jennifer Cotton (Madison Capital Funding), Nishita Cummings (Kayne Anderson), Venita Fields (Pelham S2K), Jeri Harman (Avante Mezzanine Partners), Pam Hendrickson (the Riverside Co.), Gretchen Perkins (Huron Capital) and Trisha Renner (Baird). Who will make it on this year's list? To be considered, candidates must be women who are outstanding dealmakers both inside and outside of their firms. Evidence of influence in the broader M&A industry is essential. When nominating a candidate, please explain how she outperforms her colleagues at her firm and in the industry. Please provide examples of deals she has led, initiatives she has launched and other instances that show evidence of her influence in the middle market. An important guide to what we're looking for can be found in the dealmakers we've honored in previous years. See profiles of, and Q&As with, past honorees here. DEAL NEWS Cloud-software provider Veeva Systems (NYSE: VEEV) is buying healthcare analytics company Crossix Solutions for $430 million. Crossix offers analytics and technology that connects health and non-health data for more than 300 million U.S. patients. New Mountain Capital has bought Emids from Council Capital and Baird Capital. The target offers technology and data services to healthcare payers and providers. Castik Capital has acquired a majority stake in AddSecure from Abry Partners. AddSecure provides secure communications and technology to help companies and individuals protect their data. GTCR is buying a majority stake in Cole-Parmer Instrument Co. from Golden Gate Capital. The latter is keeping a minority stake. Cole-Parmer is a manufacturer of temperature monitoring and environmental precision equipment to the enviromental, healthcare, industrials and life sciences sectors. Jefferies is advising Cole-Parmer. The advisor to GTCR is Latham & Watkins. Advisors to Golden Gate include: Baird, Kirkland & Ellis and Nob Hill Law Group. Core Industrial Partners-backed Midwest Composite Technologies has acquired Fathom, a 3D printer and additive manufacturer. Winston & Strawn is representing the buyers. Global Technology Group advised Fathom. Industrial Opportunity Partners-backed Union Corrugating Co. has bought Oakland Metal Buildings, a manufacturer and distributor of pre-engineered metal buildings. McDermott Will & Emery LLP represented the buyers. FEATURED CONTENT 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. Most recently, the New York firm announced on Sept. 11 the final close of its latest global real estate fund. 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, on the occasion of his new book, What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence, published by Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster, and released on Sept. 17. Schwarzman, who is speaking at the Economic Club of New York on Sept. 18, shared his perspective on the private equity model, its resilience during recessions and how the industry has evolved over three decades. Read the full story: "Complete control" is the beauty of private equity, says Blackstone's Stephen A. Schwarzman. Bank M&A has been soaring, creating the perfect backdrop for Piper Jaffray’s announced acquisition of Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP. “There has been a lot of consolidation in the bank space,” Piper Jaffray CEO Chad Abraham told Mergers & Acquisitions. “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 the renamed firm Piper Sandler will instantly become a leading investment bank in financial services, a sector Piper has sought to expand in for several years. For analysis of the deal, see Counting on bank M&A: Why Piper Jaffray bought Sandler O'Neill. That the payments landscape is dynamic is news to no one but the paradox at the core of it may escape the average observer. The demand for simplicity by consumers and businesses is making things more complex. More payment end points, payment types and disruptive innovation on the front end means a greater challenge in the back where the work is done to approve, clear and settle transactions. There have been a number of developments that have supported as well as attempted to mitigate the effects of this paradox. Read the full story: Payments M&A, mobile wave make negotiations harder. 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. Read the story: 8 M&A advisors urge closing deals now, while economy stays strong. 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 at EisnerAmper’s 4th annual Alternative Investment Summit. Among the topics discussed: 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. 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 Virginia Capital Conference is being held on Oct. 2 at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia. 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 Oct. 22-23. ACG Charlotte is hosting Deal Crawl at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina Nov. 6-7. Third Annual Women in Alternative Investments Career Forum is taking place at the New York Hilton on Nov. 8. ACG New York is hosting Middle Market Week in New York from Nov. 11-15.