Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) agreed to pay $5.3 billion for Plaid, a fintech firm that connects popular apps like Venmo to customers’ data in the established banking system. Plaid’s software tools help power a range of popular financial apps, including Venmo, Coinbase Inc. and Acorns Grow Inc., by channeling the banking data they need for their apps and websites. Founded in 2012, the firm now has more than 200 million accounts linked on its platform, according to an investor presentation. That number underscores the demand from consumers to send their data to services that can move funds between accounts or into cryptocurrencies, give advice on personal finances or reimburse a friend after brunch. About a quarter of people with a U.S. bank account have used Plaid to connect to the roughly 11,000 financial institutions it works with, according to the two companies. “We don’t see changing Plaid’s model, we see helping them accelerate their growth,” Visa CEO Al Kelly told investors on a conference call. Plaid’s investors include Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), Mastercard (NYSE: MA) and Bond Capital founder and former Kleiner Perkins partner Mary Meeker. Read the full story by Bloomberg News: Visa pays $5.3B for Plaid, a fintech firm that connects Venmo and other popular apps to customer data and from PaymentsSource: Visa’s $5 billion Plaid deal takes a possible rival off the table.

Mergers & Acquisitions has opened up the nomination process for the 13th Annual M&A Mid-Market Awards, which will honor leading dealmakers and deals that set the standard for transactions in the middle market in 2019. Nominations are accepted only through our electronic forms. The deadline is Friday, Feb. 7, 2020. There is no fee. For more information on the nomination process and what we seek in winning candidates, see Call for nominations: Submissions for the M&A Mid-Market Awards due Feb. 7.

DEAL NEWS
Siguler Guff has raised its fourth small buyout fund at $1.575 billion. The fund will invest in lower middle-market U.S. businesses that have less than $100 million in revenue. The firm has invested about $4 billion in 650 million since it was founded in 2006. “With approximately 350,000 small and lower middle market businesses in the U.S., Siguler Guff believes that the market segment exhibits one of the greatest structural inefficiencies within domestic private equity, as the opportunity set attracted only 10 percent of total U.S. buyout capital raised in the last five years,” the firm says.

Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust and MGM Growth Properties have formed a joint venture to buy the real state assets of the MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas for $4.6 billion. MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) will continue to operate both properties. Morgan Stanley and Evercore are advising MGM Growth. Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP is representing Morgan Stanley. Citigroup and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett are advising BREIT.

Google (Nasdaq: GOOGL) has acquired Pointy, which helps traditional retailers compete against Amazon. The target’s services is designed to help consumers find the same products from Amazon in local stores. Pointy has a small device that business owners can connect to their bar code scanner. Each items gets scanned into inventory and uploaded onto Pointy’s website, making it easier for people to search.

Montagu Private Equity is acquiring RTI Surgical Holdings Inc.’s (Nasdaq: RTIX) OEM business for $490 million. Piper Sandler, Sidley Austin, Holland & Knight are advising RTI Surgical Holdings. Weil, Gotshal & Manges is advising Montagu.

Consulting and technology services provider ICF (Nasdaq: ICFI) is buying Incentive Technology Group, which offers cloud-based software to the U.S. Federal government, for $255 million. DLA Piper and PwC are advising ICF.

Milliken & Co. is purchasing additives and chemicals company Borchers Group Ltd. from the Jordan Co. Jones Day is advising Milliken. Moelis & Co. and Mayer Brown are advising the sellers.

EY has acquired people consulting firm PeopleFirm. The target offers companies advice on workforce and organization strategy, HR, culture, rewards and peformance.

Education technology companies ProctorU and Yardstick Assessment Strategies have mergers to create a new company called Meazure Learning.

DEAL TRENDS
Venture Capital firms have invested $136.5 billion in U.S. companies in 2019, surpassing the $130 billion-mark for the second consecutive year, according to the PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor. In the fourth quarter, VC firms have invested $34.2 billion across 2,215 deals. One factor contributing to the increase in investments is that VC-backed companies are staying private longer.

KKR & Co. (NYSE: KKR) broke into the top 10 arrangers of new U.S. buyout loans last year, jumping ahead of rivals including Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and UBS Group AG, according to Bloomberg News. Until 2017, the firm didn’t even make the cut into the top 20 underwriters for such deals. Read the full story by Bloomberg: KKR breaks into Wall Street club of top buyout loan underwriters.

FHN Financial reports large strides in its public finance business amid a rebranding and bank merger with eyes on a larger piece of the pie. The firm changed its name to FHN Financial from FTN Financial on Oct. 25 in connection with the overall branding strategy of parent First Horizon National Corp. Ajay Thomas, who heads FHN’s public finance department, said the firm is making steady progress in becoming a major player on municipal bond deals. FHN was credited with $2.595 billion of business in 2019 compared to $1.611 billion in 2018, according to data from Refinitiv, with much of last year’s growth achieved in the second half as the merger took effect. Read the full story from the Bond Buyer: FHN Financial poised for public finance growth after merger.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) posted the best year for any U.S. bank in history. Fueled by a rebound in trading, especially in fixed income, the company said profit jumped 21 percent in the fourth quarter, pushing annual earnings to a record $36.4 billion. Read the full story by Bloomberg News: JPMorgan’s trading surge helps fuel most profitable year ever.

PEOPLE MOVES
Chris Allen, Leon Brujis, Caleb Clark, Justin Green, Daniel Ilundain and Adam Shebitz have been promoted from managing directors to partners at private equity firm Palladium Equity Partners. They have also been appointed to the firm’s management committee.

Kevin Kemmerer has been named executive chairman at Clearlake-backed software company Symplr. Kemmerer was most recently with iPipeline and also previously held roles MedeAnalytics and Portico Systems.

Anthony Kay has joined law firm Orrick is a partner where he is focusing on leveraged finance. He was previously with Latham & Watkins.

FEATURED CONTENT
If there’s anything M&A professionals dislike, it’s uncertainty. And heading into 2020, there’s more than enough uncertainty to go around, including questions about the economy, international trade, impeachment, domestic politics and more. The funny thing is, the lack of clarity may actually make the first half of the year a great time for M&A, as dealmakers push to close transactions before the looming uncertainty of Election Day and its outcome. We conducted interviews with 8 investment bankers and other M&A advisors. Some said the first half of the year will be robust, while others said the uncertainty may have a negative impact throughout 2020. Read the full story, What’s ahead for M&A in 2020? We ask 8 advisors.

Mergers & Acquisitions has named the 2020 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. This marks the fifth year we have produced the list, which recognizes female leaders with significant influence inside their companies and in the wider dealmaking world. It’s been gratifying to watch the project evolve over the years – and become more influential itself. This year, we received more nominations than ever before. As a result, we expanded the number honored to 42 in 2020, up from 36 in 2019. Many dealmakers are new to our list, including Rockwood Equity Partners’ Kate Faust, William Blair’s Shay Brokemond and Avante Capital Partners’ Ivelisse Simon. Read our full coverage of all the champions of change on our list, including Q&As with each individual.

Mergers & Acquisitions examines the impact of 7 technologies on M&A in the retail sector. Read the whole series:

Overview: Retail Tech M&A: 7 Technologies Driving Change
Retail Tech M&A #1: Nike, McDonald’s, PayPal, add customization, IoT
Retail Tech M&A #2: Why Walmart and other retailers are buying artificial intelligence startups
Retail Tech M&A #3: Amazon leads race to build fulfillment centers
Retail Tech M&A #4: Do robots fill orders faster?
Retail Tech M&A #5: Voice recognition gives retailers more ways to communicate
Retail Tech M&A #6: Data improves customer service
Retail Tech M&A #7: Demand for convenience drives growth in mobile ordering

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 s for each, see Special reports overview: M&A Mid-Market Awards, Rising Stars, Most Influential Women.

EVENTS
ACG New York is hosting the 12th annual healthcare conference and bourbon tasting at the Metropolitan Club in New York on Feb. 27.

ACG Boston is hosting The Big Deal at the Legal Harborside in Boston on Jan. 21.

InterGrowth 2020 is taking place at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas from April 20-22.