Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM), the owner of the KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell chains, is buying fast-casual restaurant brand the Habit Restaurants Inc. (Nasdaq: HABT) for $375 million. Habit is known for making burgers, grilled chicken and ahi tuna sandwiches that are chargrilled over an open flame. Habit operates about 300 restaurants in the U.S. and China. “We’ve emerged from our three-year transformation stronger and in a better position to accelerate the growth of our existing brands and leverage our scale to unlock value from strategic acquisitions,” says Yum! CEO David Gibbs. “The Habit Burger Grill is a fantastic addition to the Yum! family and has significant untapped growth potential in the U.S. and internationally.” One acquisition that Yum! made came in 2018 when Pizza Hut bought online restaurant ordering and delivery company QuikOrder. “Over the past few years, we’ve focused on becoming a total access brand by growing our delivery business, expanding our online ordering and mobile channels and enhancing the in-store experience by introducing drive-thrus, kiosks and technology-centric solutions for operations,” says Habit CEO Russell Bendel. “We’re proud these and other actions have made the Habit Burger Grill an attractive candidate for a transaction of this kind.” BofA Securities and Mayer Brown are advising Yum! Piper Sandler Cos. and Ropes & Gray are advising Habit. Read the full story by Bloomberg News: Taco Bell Owner adds burgers with Habit deal.

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.

Xerox Holdings Corp. has arranged a $24 billion loan with a group of banks as it continues a pursuit of HP Inc. It’s the largest-ever bridge loan in the technology sector, surpassing IBM’s $20 billion facility in 2018 for its acquisition of Red Hat Inc. Read the full story by Bloomberg News: Xerox lines up $24 Billion M&A loan in pursuit of deal with HP.

Amazon.com Inc. signed pacts with the Future Group to sell products from India’s second largest brick-and-mortar retailer on its online marketplace, as they fend off rivals in the world’s last big untapped retail market. Amazon will become the authorized online sales channel for Future Retail Ltd.’s stores, which sell everything from groceries to cosmetics and apparel, according to an exchange filing Monday. Read the full story by Bloomberg News: Amazon, Future Group boost ties to fend off Asia’s richest man.

Colony Capital (NYSE: CLNY) has made a $185 million in investment data center operator DataBank. Allstate and Nuveen will keep their stakes in Databank, while Edgewater Funds will exit its investment.

John Wiley & Sons Inc. (NYSE: JW-A) has bought education services provider Mthree from ECI Partners for $129 million. Mthree trains students for tech careers. Jefferies and Osborne Clarke advised Mthree. Addleshaw Goddard advised ECI.

Levine Leichtman Capital Partners has acquired Resolution Economics. The latter is a consulting firm that offers statistical analysis and testimony to law firms and businesses in labor and employment and commercial litigation matters. Kirkland & Ellis advised Levine Leichtman and Houlihan Lokey advised Resolution.

One Equity Partners has completed its investment in Computer Design and Integration, a provider of IT Infrastructure hardware, software and consulting services.

Bain Capital-backed Dealer Tire is buying Dent Wizard from Gridiron Capital. Dent Wizard is a provider of reconditioning services and vehicle protection products. J.P. Morgan Securities (NYSE: JPM), Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and Kirkland & Ellis LLP are advising Dealer Tire. Jefferies, Baird and Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP are advising Dent Wizard.

Warburg Pincus is buying Sundyne from BC Partners and Carlyle. Sundyne designs, manufactures and offers aftermarket support for engineered pumps and compressors. Morgan Stanley and Latham & Watkins are advising Sundyne. Citi and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.

HCI Equity Partners-backed MSI Expreess has acquired Power Packaging. The target offers contract manufacturing and packaging services. Kirkland & Ellis advised MSI and Finnea Group advised Power Packaging.

Aurelius Equity Opportunities has acquired the Distrelec and Nedis businesses from Dätwyler Group. The target is a distributor and wholesaler of electronic parts. PwC, OC&C, Lenz & Staehelin, Linklaters, Deloitte, Digatus and Euro Transaction Solutions advised Aurelius.

PowerPlant Ventures has made a growth investment in plant-based protein beverage maker Owyn. PowerPlant joines exisiting investors Clearlake Capital and Halen Brands.

For more deal news, see Weekly wrap: Bimbo Bakeries, Blue Point, HMB Holdings.

To see which firms are fundraising, check out PE fundraising scorecard: Accel-KKR, TPG, Trivest.

Craig Culbertson has joined law Blank Rome as a partner. He was previously with McGuireWoods, and focuses on M&A in the energy and financial services sectors.

Ben Fogle has joined private equity firm MidWest Growth Partners as a partner and a member of the firm’s investment committee. Fogle most recently a managing director of capital markets for Farm Credit Services of America.

Johanna Schmidtke was promoted from principal to managing director at private equity firm Ara Partners. Schmidtke joined the firm in 2018.

Shibeer Ahmed, Christopher Skipper and Campbell Steedman have joined law firm’s Squire Patton Boggs’ Dubai office as partners. They were previously with Winston & Strawn.

Lance Phillips was hired by law firm Eversheds Sutherland as a partner where he is focusing on M&A. Phillips was most recently Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.

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

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.

2019 was 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.

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.

Mergers & Acquisitions is 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.

The Annual AM&AA Winter Conference is taking place in Scottsdale, Arizona 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.

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