M&A wrap: William Blair, DuPont, Intel, Francisco Partners, Avante, Rockwood, Most Influential Women

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Mergers & Acquisitions has named the 2020 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. This marks the fifth year we have produced the list. 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. We’re also pleased to welcome many newcomers to the list, such as Shay Brokemond, managing director, industrials, William Blair, who recently closed five transactions in five months. “Change starts at home,” Brokemond says. “I’m deeply committed to developing diverse talent, as well as creating a culture where everyone — regardless of their background or position — feels empowered to bring their full and authentic selves to the office each day.” Read our full coverage of all the champions of change on our list, including Q&As with each individual.

DEAL NEWS
International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (NYSE: IFF) has reached a $26.2 billion deal for DuPont Inc.’s (NYSE: DD) nutrition division, prevailing over Ireland’s Kerry Group Plc as it continues to expand in the fast-growing food-ingredients business. The deal is the biggest ever for New York-based IFF, which makes flavors and fragrances for food, personal-care and household products. Read the full story by Bloomberg News: IFF buys DuPont's nutrition unit to expand in food ingredients.

Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) is buying Habana Labs, a developer of artificial intelliegence training technology for data centers, for $2 billion. The acquisition strengthens Intel's AI business.

Cineworld Group Plc is on track to become North America’s biggest operator of movie theaters with its plan to buy Canada’s Cineplex Inc. for C$2.15 billion ($1.64 billion). Movie-theater operators have been combining to squeeze costs so they can afford facility upgrades and counter the risk that on-demand services such as Netflix Inc. will hit attendance. Read the full story by Bloomberg News: Cineworld acquires Cineplex to become North America's largest movie theater operator.

Apax Partners is buying cybersecurity company Coalfire from the Carlyle Group (Nasdaq: CG) and the Chertoff Group. William Blair and Latham & Watkins are advising Coalfire. Kirkland & Ellis is representing Apax. PwC is advising Carlyle.

Aurelius Equity Opportunties has acquired a majority stake in airplane seat maker ZIM Flugsitz GmbH. Seabury Capital, Ebner Stolz and Oppenhoff & Partner advised Aurelius.

Bruin Sports Capital is buying a majority stake in Two Circles from WPP. Two Circles provides data on sports fans. The target's include: the National Football League, Premier League and Formula 1.

Thoma Bravo-backed J.D. Power has merged with Autodata Solutions. The target offers transactional data, valuation tools, vehicle feature information and consumer analytics to the automotive industry.

FEATURED CONTENT
With the holiday shopping season in full swing, all eyes are on the retail industry, which is undergoing transformational changes. 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

During the holiday season, Mergers & Acquisitions is covering the philanthropic and volunteer initiatives underway in the private equity industry. At Mergers & Acquisitions, we're covering the philanthropic and volunteer initiatives underway in the private equity industry. Last year, we published The Big Give, an in-depth look at how private equity firms are contributing. Efforts have continued to flourish, fueled by younger Millennials seeking to build a better future and by mature partners considering the legacy they will leave behind. Read our full coverage: Private equity gives back: Vista's Robert F. Smith, Clearlake's José E. Feliciano, Riverside employees.

Albertsons, Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR), Stop & Shop and Walmart (NYSE: WMT) are building automated mini-warehouses and "dark stores" to make deliveries and prepare pickup orders. Mini-warehouses are usually attached to existing stores, and in most cases, "dark stores" are completely separate. Both formats are closed off to customers, and are mostly automated. They use the assistance of robots for speed, save on labor, and get orders out faster. Kroger bought a five percent stake in robotics firm Ocado. Read our full coverage: Smart supermarkets become popular, as Kroger, Walmart add them.

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. The New York firm announced the final close of its latest global real estate fund recently. 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.

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. Adams Street Partners, Balance Point Capital, Carlyle and VSS are all actively engaged in lending. Read the full story: Private equity firms are becoming lenders. Here’s why.

Prokanga is a unique recruiting firm that offers full-time and flexible recruiting services. Prokanga is managed by co-founders Jamie Cheney and Lesley Finer (pictured). Mergers & Acquisitions spoke with Finer, who has more than 10 years of recruiting for the finance industry and leads the finance practice at Prokanga. For more, see Why financial services pros need flexibility.

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 Annual AM&AA Winter Conference is taking place in Scottsdale, Arizon fron Jan. 8-10.

Deal Wave is being hosted by ACG Orange Country at the Ritz-Carlton-Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, California on Jan. 9.

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