News briefs, May 21, 2007

Olympus breathes new life into Asthmatx with $50M

More than six-months after pulling its IPO, asthma device-maker Asthmatx Inc. announced last week it has raised $50 million in Series D financing from Japan’s Olympus Medical Systems Corp., which has taken a 15% stake in the company.

As with Asthmatx’s deal with investor Boston Scientific, Olympus receives board observer rights, but no additional window into specific products or option to buy additional shares.

Though the transaction is not as splashy as an IPO, the deal raises nearly as much cash than if the company launched an IPO, which probably would have netted about $65 million. Plus, the Series D pre-money valuation of about $280 million is double the IPO pre-money of $140 million.

Asthmatx previously had raised more than $42 million in VC funding, including a $27 million Series C infusion in late 2005 at a $65.5 million post-money valuation. Participants on that round included Polaris Venture Partners, Menlo Ventures, MedVenture Associates, HBM BioVentures, Montreux Equity Partners and Vanguard Ventures.

Asthmatx CEO Glen French said that he was not ruling out another stab at an IPO. But with the increased valuation, an acquisition might be more in the future for the Mountain View, Calif.-based company.

OPERS doubles fund investment

The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System announced at the end of last week that it is putting more money into the Ohio PERS/Credit Suisse Ohio-Midwest Fund, because of the fund’s success in helping to bankroll regional businesses.

The fund is growing to $102 million from $51 million. The fund of funds currently has $40 million invested in eight private equity groups that invest in Ohio and the Midwest. The fund, which was created in 2005, is managed by Credit Suisse Customized Fund Investment Group.

Among its invested funds are Blue Point Capital Partners II, Draper Triangle Ventures II, Reservoir Venture Partners II, Riverside Micro-Cap Fund, SFW Capital Partners, Stonehenge Opportunity Fund II, Strength Capital Partners II and Triathlon Medical Ventures, all of which have offices in Ohio.

Stern urges PE firm to change ways

Andy Stern

, president of the Service Employees International Union, the largest union of health care workers in North America, said that if private equity firms will not take steps to change, the U.S. Congress should legislate the industry. Stern spoke at a hearing on “Private Equity’s Impact on Workers and Companies” in the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services.

In his testimony, Stern raised concerns about certain private equity practices and their impact on workers, such as risky deals that put workers and companies at risk; quick flips and sell-offs; transparency and disclosure issues; and missed opportunities for workers. —PE Week staff