M&A wrap: VMG, Popchips, Akamai, Thoma Bravo, Audax, Most Influential Women

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Consumer-focused private equity firm VMG has acquired better-for-you snacks brand Popchips from Verlinvest. Popchips makes mostly potato chips that aren't fried under its namesake, Nutter Puffs and Yes Peas brands. The deal coincides with VMG creating snacks platform Velocity Snack Brands. The latter will be led by CEO Amit Pandhi, who was most recently president and CEO of Arctic Zero, a better-for-you frozen desserts brand. VSB will focus on the salty, sweet and nutrition bar categories. "Building platforms in categories where VMG has been actively investing for nearly 15 years has been something we have been contemplating for some time and we are thrilled to kick off our first consumer products platform with Popchips as a partner," says VMG general partner Wayne Chu. Pandhi adds: “With Popchips as our anchor acquisition, we plan to grow brands that meet consumer demand and make better-for-you food more accessible." Advisors to the sellers include: Barclays and Morrison Foerster.

The New York Yankees advanced 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.

The deadline is coming up. 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.

TO NOMINATE A CANDIDATE, CLICK HERE.

DEAL NEWS
Cloud security company Akamai Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: AKAM) is buying ChameleonX. The target makes technogy that protects websites from cyberattacks, including credit card skimming. "Protecting websites from malicious client-side code is an area of paramount concern to customers, driven by significant, persistent and effective attack activity over the last year that has resulted in both detrimental incidents of data loss and fines," says Craig Adams, senior vice president and general manager of Akamai's security and performance business units.

Liberty Latin America is acquiring AT&T Inc.'s (NYSE: T) wiresless and wireline operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands for $1.95 billion. The acquisition will offer customers consumer mobile and business-to-business services in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, but doesn't include AT&T's DirecTV business.

Thoma Bravo has bought IDS, an asset finance software provider, from SV Investment Partners. Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati advised IDS. Thoma Bravo was represented by Kirkland & Ellis.

Audax Private Equity has purchased EIS Inc., a distributor, fabricator and converter of electrical process materials, wire, cable and assemblies

Rotunda Capital Partners-backed MacQueen Group has acquired Rescue Repair, a provider of fire and ambulance repair equipment.

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
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.

The 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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