M&A wrap: Monroe Capital, Duane Morris, Fiat Chrysler, KKR, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo

Ted Koenig

While some of the firms that were instrumental in launching the middle market back in the 1980s and 1990s have long since been shuttered, their legacy lives on. They proved to be excellent training grounds for many successful dealmakers. Heller Financial certainly belongs in this category, and Mergers & Acquisitions featured its alumni a few years ago. Another firm with a far reach is Holleb & Coff, a Chicago law firm that closed in 2000, after a nearly 50-year run. Founded by Marshall Holleb and Morris Coff in 1951, the firm advised prestigious clients, such as American National Bank, Hollinger International Inc. and LaSalle Bank. Revenue topped $40 million in 1997. In its heyday, Holleb & Coff employed 130-plus attorneys; it was the law firm to work for in the Midwest. Drawn to the supportive culture, new associates and seasoned partners alike enjoyed working at the venerated firm. Many of the lawyers who worked at Holleb & Coff back in the day are making a significant impact on M&A today. including: John Corvino, general counsel to the Chicago White Sox; · Brian Kerwin, chair of Duane Morris’ global corporate practice; Theodore (Ted) Koenig, the founder and CEO of Monroe Capital; Kenneth Serota, president of Hu-Friedy Manufacturing Co., and Michelle Warner, general counsel, USG Corp. (NYSE: US). Read the full story: Holleb & Coff alumni: Where are they now?

Giants Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) and PepsiCo Inc. (Nasdaq: PEP) update their product lines with healthy offerings, while private equity firms, such as Brynwood Partners, breathe new life into tried and true brands, like Pillsbury. And lots of buyers experiment with meal kits and delivery methods, fueling M&A. Coca-Cola is buying a minority stake in sports drink company BodyArmor. The target counts former and current National Basketball Association players Kobe Bryant and James Harden among its investors. The deal expands Coca-Cola's beverage line beyond traditional soft drinks, while it gives Whitestone, New York-based BodyArmor access to Coca-Cola's bottling system. PepsiCo has agreed to buy fizzy-drinks dispenser maker SodaStream International Ltd. (Nasdaq: SODA) for $3.2 billion, sending the company synonymous with sugary sodas into the homes of more health-conscious consumers. Brynwood Partners is acquiring a portfolio of brands from the J.M. Smucker Co. (NYSE: SJM) for $375 million. The portfolio includes the exclusive U.S. rights to the well-known Pillsbury brand’s shelf-stable baking products, along with the Hungry Jack, White Lily, Jim Dandy and Martha White brands. Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) has agreed to acquire online meal kit maker Home Chef for up to $700 million. "We've long believed that the future of our industry is omni-channel and bigger than just meal kits sold online. We want to be where our customers are and want to help make cooking at home easier, more accessible and even more enjoyable," says Home Chef founder Pat Vihtelic. Read the full story: 9 food & beverage companies loved by consumers and dealmakers alike.

Deal News
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is seeking more than 6 billion euros ($7 billion) for its car-part unit Magneti Marelli SpA in exclusive sale talks with a supplier owned by KKR & Co., a private equity firm that’s eyeing a lower pricetag, according to Bloomberg News. The U.S. fund may aim to pay around 5 billion euros because conditions for Fiat’s alternative plan of spinning off the division have deteriorate. Read the full story: KKR in talks with Fiat Chrysler for car parts maker.

The Carlyle Group LP (Nasdaq: CG) is buying a majority stake in insurance company Sedgwick from KKR & Co. (NYSE: KKR), Stone Point Capital and CDPQ for $6.7 billion. KKR is exiting its stake while Stone Point and CDPQ are keeping minority stakes. Carlyle is making the investment out of its $18.5 billion fund. Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett are advising Sedgwick. Morgan Stanley, Sandler O'Neill + Partners and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz are advising Carlyle.

Stanley Black & Decker (NYSE: SWK) is acquiring a 20 percent stake in outdoor power equipment manufacturer MTD Products Inc. for $234 million. Stanley Black has the option to buy the remaining 80 percent beginning on July 1, 2021. MTD makes lawn tractors, chain saws and snow throwers. Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP is representing Stanley Black & Decker. BakerHosteler represented MDT.

High Road Capital-backed U-C Coatings has acquired Contechem, a manufacturer of woods protection products. Madison Capital provided financing.

Huron Capital-backed InterVision Systems has bought Infinity Consulting Group, an IT consulting firm.

MidOcean Partners has acquired Questex, a business-to-business information services company that serves the beauty, hospitality, healthcare and technology sectors. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher advised MidOcean. Jefferies and Kirkland & Ellis advised Questex.

Shore Capital Partners-backed Innovia Medical has acquired medical instruments maker Eagle Laboratories.

People moves
Katherine Forrest has joined Cravath Swaine & Moore as a partner, where she focuses on antitrust, intellectual property, general commercial and digital media. Forrest is a former deputy assistant attorney general in the antitrust division of the United States Department of Justice and a U.S. District judge for the southern district of New York.

Stefan Hoefer was hired by Crayhill Capital Management as a managing director. Previously with BB&T Capital, Hoefer sources, underwrites, structures and manages private credit investments.

David Mastrangelo was hired by KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc. as a managing director in the firm's technology group. Mastangelo was most recently with Jefferies.

Richard Zhu has joined Alantra as a managing director, heading the investment bank's Chinese M&A activities. Linda Wang has also joined the firm as a director. They were both previously with Lincoln International.

Featured content
"Companies that are inclusive and also diverse tend to outperform companies that aren't," says investor Lorine Pendleton of Pipeline Angels and Portfolia in this video interview shot at Exponent Exchange, a gathering of 200 female dealmakers. Pendleton looks to invest in companies led by diverse entrepreneurs, which she defines as entrepreneurs of color, LGBT entrepreneurs, women, veterans, and disabled entrepreneurs. She also backs companies that have products and services that cater to those markets. "People think that they are niche markets, but they're actually growing in terms of spending dollars and market size." Pendleton spoke on a panel moderated by Mergers & Acquisitions editor-in-chief Mary Kathleen Flynn at Exponent Exchange. For more, see Exponent drew 200 women dealmakers to event featuring Sallie Krawcheck.Watch the full video: M&A Insights: Inclusion investing.

The energy industry is teeming with M&A activity, as companies seek to improve operations. Hubbell and Ingersoll Rand are among the strategic buyers. Private equity firms acquiring include AE Industrial Partners, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and Genstar Capital. Companies in the energy industry are focused on improving operational efficiencies and analytical capabilities. The issues are urgent for oil and gas companies, because depressed prices mean profits are hard to come by, says Caroline Blitzer Phillips, who advises clients on energy deals as a partner at law firm Vinson & Elkins. They are also essential for renewable energy, which “has been quite expensive in some cases, because the infrastructure is not in place.” From providers of “smart grids” to developers of energy management software, Mergers & Acquisitions looks at recently acquired targets. Read the full story: 14 smart energy deals.

If you’ve had a beer and chicken wings while waiting for a flight at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, or grabbed a smoothie while shopping at the Federal Plaza in Rockville, Maryland, or enjoyed a steak dinner at New York’s Grand Centralterminal, you’ve got a sports celebrity athlete to thank. Among the athletes investing are Dale Earnhardt Jr.,LeBron James, Michael Jordanand Greg Norman. View our slideshow: Danica Patrick, LeBron James, Serena Williams invest in food & wine.

Mergers & Acquisitions has announced 11 Rising Stars of Private Equity, including John Kos, GTCR; Ethan Liebermann, TA Associates; Jennifer Roach, Yellow Wood Partners; and Afaf Ibraheem Warren, Siris Capital . The up-and-coming investors are expected to play significant leadership roles in the future. See: Meet Mergers & Acquisitions' 11 Rising Stars of Private Equity.

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