M&A daily wrap: Shore Capital Partners, Waud Capital, P&G, Merck, BlackRock, Liberty Hall

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The U.S. healthcare M&A market began 2018 with almost $39 billion worth of deals announced in January — the strongest start in over a decade, according to Morgan Stanley. Many of the healthcare companies garnering attention from strategic acquirers and private equity firms have a few things in common: they are in subsectors where there is room for consolidation; they take pressure off hospitals; and most aim to give patients more specialized treatment, which is believed to lower the cost of care and improve outcomes. “As consumers, we are all used to having access to almost any product or service on our phone in minutes,” says Justin Ishbia, founder of Shore Capital Partners. “As healthcare becomes more retail-focused, we believe that the winners in healthcare are those who adapt to the demands of consumers, and those who rely solely on traditional models will be left behind." Companies spanning a wide range of subsectors from veterinary practices and vision specialists to revenue cycle management providers and pharmaceutical makers are attracting interest from both private equity investors and strategic buyers. In March, TA Associates completed the purchase of Ideal Cures Private Ltd., a supplier of ready-to-use coating products for tablets and capsules. On the strategic side, Cognizant (Nasdaq: CTSH) announced on April 19 the completion of its purchase of Bolder Healthcare Solutions, a privately-held provider of RCM software for hospitals and physician practices. Check out our in-depth feature on 6 healthcare sub-sectors that are consolidating.

Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG) agreed to buy Merck KGaA’s consumer-health business for $4.2 billion to bolster growth, betting that vitamins and decongestants can hasten its comeback. The deal gives the maker of Crest toothpaste a stable of products with sales growth of 6 percent in the past two years, double the pace of traditional consumer goods such as razors, diapers and tissues. P&G is one of several consumer conglomerates that are reshaping their portfolios through M&A. Read previous coverage of P&G's strategy here.

In the pharmaceutical world, middle-market private equity firm Waud Capital Partners formed a platform company called Pharmacy Partners Holdings LLC. Former Express Scripts Inc. (Nasdaq: ESRX) executive Sean Donnelly will serve as CEO of the company. “The specialty drug market continues to expand rapidly,” says Donnelly. “This growth creates a demand for services across multiple settings of care, including physician offices, patients’ homes and other locations. We believe there’s a tremendous opportunity to provide value-added solutions, built upon a foundation of exceptional patient care and customer service, to physicians, provider networks, pharmaceutical manufacturers, health plans and other stakeholders across the broader landscape.”

Investment behemoth BlackRock Inc. (NYSE: BLK) is acquiring Tennenbaum Capital Partners, a firm with about $9 billion of committed capital focused on direct lending and special situations for middle-market companies. BlackRock says its clients are increasingly drawn to private credit as a higher-yielding alternative to traditional fixed income. In recent years, private equity firms, such as the Riverside Co., have increasingly expanded into middle-market lending, with several making acquisitions. Read our full coverage here.

Madison Dearborn Partners has acquired Remote DBA Experts, a provider of remote database administration and cloud managed services. Financial terms were not disclosed. DH Capital, MVP Capital, and DLA Piper advised the target. Kirkland & Ellis represented Madison Dearborn.

Apax Digital Fund, the growth equity fund advised by Apax Partners, has a acquired a majority stake in Finnish digital transformation firm Solita from Vaaka Partners. Solita's management team will retain a minority stake in the business. The company provides strategic consulting, service design, artificial intelligence, analytics, and managed cloud services. Financial terms were not disclosed.

TriWest Capital Partners has invested in HPC Energy Services Inc., a Calgary-based provider of lithium cells and battery packs designed to withstand high temperature, shock and vibration environments for use in downhole oil & gas operations. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Orbis Corp. has purchased Response Holdings Corp. The target is a supplier of fabricated steel rack systems that are used for part protection in the automotive and industrial sectors. Angle Advisors advised Response.

Public relations and investor relations firm Lambert Edwards & Associates has acquired financial communications firm Owen Blicksilver Public Relations Inc. Financial terms were not disclosed.

United Talent Agency has acquired Circle Talent Agency, an electronic dance music agency. Skadden Arps Skate Meagher & Flom represented the buyer.

Aerospace-focused middle-market private equity firm Liberty Hall Capital Partners has closed its first fund at $226.5 million. The fundraise increases Liberty Hall's capital under management to $545 million. The firm invests up to $150 million in equity in aerospace and defense businesses. Liberty Hall recently acquired airplane engine parts supplier AeroCision. Moelis & Co. (NYSE: MC), CrossBay Capital, and Schulte Roth & Zabel advised Liberty Hall.

Stephen DeFalco was hired by Lindsay Goldberg as a partner. He will lead the firm's efforts in enhancing operational and technological resources to support growth across portfolio companies. DeFalco is the former CEO of Crane & Co., supplier of currency paper and anti-counterfeiting technology to the U.S. government.

Jeffrey Huddleston has joined Alvarez & Marsal as a managing director in Houston. Previously with Conway MacKenzie, Huddleston specializes in advising distressed companies, lenders and creditors on both in-court and out-of-court restructurings and turnarounds.

David Segre has joined Cooley as a partner in San Francisco. Most recently with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Segre focuses on M&A.

For more new hires, promotions and other dealmaker career news, including Baird's hiring Brett Skolnik as healthcare managing director and Tony Armand's joining Norwest Equity Partners as an operating partner, read People Moves.

As Americans begin to plan road trips and other summer vacations, car deals are thriving, especially in the nascent self-driving tech sector. Intel bought Israel's Mobileye for about $15 billion. Meanwhile, in a much smaller deal, Delphi bought NuTonomy. As the industry readies for autonomous driving, there's a big wave of consolidation going on among makers of traditional car parts, with several new deals announced this week. Investcorp acquired KSI Trading Corp., a supplier of aftermarket auto body parts that services 10,000 collision repair shop customers across 25 locations in 14 states. Woodward Inc. bought diesel parts maker L'Orange from Rolls-Royce. And Canadian automotive retailer AutoCanada has acquired 15 stores from the Grossinger Auto Group. Akerman represented the seller. Other car part buyers include CenterOakPartners, Clearlake Capital Group and Wabash National. Meanwhile, Carl Icahn is among the sellers. Check out our slideshow on the rush of activity.

Read full coverage of Mergers & Acquisitions' 11th annual M&A Mid-Market Award winners: Campbell Soup, Huron Capital, Idera CEO Randy Jacops, LLR Partners, McGuireWoods, Stryker, Twin Brook and William Blair.

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