M&A wrap: Thoma Bravo, Apttus, NY Yankees, RLDatix, 3i, VSS, Vestar

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In the fourth quarter of 2018, Thoma Bravo, LLC acquired Apttus, a middle-office solution that automates, optimizes and applies artificial intelligence to revenue generation and management of commercial relationships. Founded in 2006, Apttus was originally built to be used with the cloud-based software company Salesforce. Apttus provides contract lifecycle management and quote-to-cash technology as well as other middle-office solutions. Its customers include hundreds of Global 2,000 companies. Prior to its sale to Thoma Bravo, Apttus was once on track for an initial public offering and, at another point, thought Salesforce would be a logical buyer. "There are three main ways for us to exit – sale to a strategic player who wants to enter or strengthen its position in a market space, IPO or sale to another PE firm," Apttus CEO Frank Holland tells Mergers & Acquisitions in an interview. "Right now, we are focused on building a strong company that is the standalone leader of the middle-office space for a very long time to come." Read the full story: Thoma Bravo-backed Apttus wants bigger piece of middle office technology market.

The New York Yankees are favored to advance to the American League Championship Series this week. 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 and 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 League fullback Chris Gronkowski. Rodriguez talked about his life off the field at EisnerAmper’s 4th Annual Alternative Investment Summit. Read the full story: A-Rod talks Ice Shaker, NRG eSports, J. Lo & maybe buying a baseball team.

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
RLDatix has acquired Quantros' healthcare patienty safety business from Francisco Partners. The buyer is backed by TA Associates, Five Arrows Capital Partners and Susquehanna Growth Equity. Raymond James and Paul Hastings advised Quantros. Kirkland & Ellis advised RLDatix.

Family office Avalt has purchased Ned Stevens, which provides gutter cleaning and other exterior home services. Twin Brook Capital Partners, Audax Private Debt and Carlyle Group's Global Credit Opportunities Fund provided financing. Ropes & Gray and Alvarez & Marsal advised Avalt.

3i-backed Q has acquired TBL Performance Plastics, a manufacturer of fittings, tubing and fabrication parts.

VSS and Trivest Partners today have completed their investment in Quatrro Business Support Services, a provider of tech-enabled business process outsourcing services.

Vestar Capital Partners is buying a minority stake in Simple Mills. The target offers baking mixes, crackers, cookies, bars and frostings that are free of gluten, grain, dairy, soy and genetically modified organisms.

PEOPLE MOVES
Lee Cooper has joined private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe as an operating partner. Cooper was the CEO of GE Healthcare Systems in the U.S. and Canada.

Thomas Philippe was hired by law firm Shearman & Sterling as a partner. He was previously with Mayer Brown and focuses on private equity and M&A.

FEATURED CONTENT
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 to. 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.

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 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. 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.” For analysis of the deal, see Counting on bank M&A: Why Piper Jaffray bought Sandler O'Neill.

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
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.

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