PE Week Wire: 8.29.06

Make It Personal

The PE Week Wire’s news section is broken down by transaction type, but many readers have asked if there also could be a way to segment it by location or industry sector. In response, I’m pleased to announce the first in a series of functionality upgrades: News Personalization.

You now can pre-select which types of news items are of the most interest to you, and those items will appear at the top of your news section each morning. Don’t worry, the other blurbs will continue to appear in their regular sections.

We currently have 13 categories, including Asia, Western Europe, Web 2.0, Wireless, Energy and Medical Devices. You also can suggest a new category, which might get added as we move on.

To sign up, please go to the following form. Please note, you can only successfully access this form if you are reading this within your email browser. Those reading on the hosted HTML page will be unable to do so. This is for authentication purposes. If you later choose to modify your settings, just return to the form. Feedback is certainly appreciated.

*** I’ve also decided to add one additional feature: The most popular outgoing news-link. At the bottom of each day’s publication, I’ll tell you which company received the most click-love from the previous day’s news section (via the company URL at the end of each news item). For those who don’t want to scroll down, the first winner was TA Associates, with UsedCardboard Boxes coming in a close second.

Top Three

Apax Partners and KKR have abandoned their efforts to buy UK-based specialty jewelry retailer Signet Group PLC (NYSE: SIG). The two firms had been considering a £2.3 billion bid, but were facing stiff shareholder opposition. Signet shares had jumped on the original buyout talk, but today dropped on news that the firms had pulled out.

Domain Associates has closed its seventh fund with $700 million in capital commitments, as first reported in yesterday’s edition of PE Week.

Christopher Darby has been named president and CEO of In-Q-Tel, a venture capital group affiliated with the Central Intelligence Agency. He previously was vice president and general manager of Intel Corp.’s middleware products division. Before that, he was president and CEO of Sarvega Inc., a provider of XML networking and security products that Intel acquired in August 2005.

VC Deals

Force10 Networks Inc., a San Jose, Calif.-based provider of network routing and switching equipment, has raised $50 million in new VC funding commitments, according to Light Reading. The article suggests a post-money valuation of approximately $455 million. Force10 now has raised around $328 million in total VC funding.

Tekion Inc., a Champaign, Ill.-based provider of micro fuel cells to the portable computing markets, is raising up to $24 million in Series C funding, according to a regulatory filing. Existing shareholders include Motorola and Illinois Ventures.

MindShift Technologies Inc., a Fairfax, Va.-based managed service provider, has raised $18 million in Series C funding. TD Fund was joined by return backers Columbia Capital and Fidelity Ventures.

TrueDemand Software Inc., a Los Gatos, Calif.-based provider of supply chain management software, has raised around $8 million in Series B funding, according to a regulatory filing. CMEA Ventures was joined by return backers Bay Partners and Mayfield Fund.

Jumpstart Automotive Media Inc., a San Francisco-based automotive advertising network, has raised $10 million in first-round funding from Alta Communications.

PlayPhone Inc., a San Jose, Calif.–based provider of direct-to-consumer mobile content distribution, has raised $9.1 million in Series B funding. Menlo Ventures led the deal, and was joined by return backer Cardinal Venture Partners.

Solido Design Automation Inc., a Saskatchewan-based EDA company, has raised Cnd$6.45 million in Series B funding, according to a regulatory filing. Backers include Golden Opportunities Fund, Investment Saskatchewan and Business Development Bank of Canada.

Ario Data Networks Inc., a San Jose, Calif.-based provider of bladed storage solution and RAID controllers, has secured $4.3 million of a $5.9 million in Series A-1 funding, according to a regulatory filing. Shareholders include Clearstone Venture Partners, Evercore Partners, Mellon Ventures and Partech International. Ario Data previously had raised over $27 million in VC funding.

Groxis Inc., a San Francisco-based provider of visual search technology, has raised $4 million in Series B funding. Return backer Draper Fisher Jurvetson led the deal, and was joined by Jackson Boulevard Capital Management.

Picaboo Corp., a Palo Alto, Calif.-based provider of digital photo album services and solutions, has raised $1.95 million in Series B funding, according to a regulatory filing. Backers include CampVentures and Odyssey Capital.

JAlbum, a Sweden–based provider of software for creating and sharing photo and video albums, has raised an undisclosed amount of private funding from Nordic Venture Partners.

Buyout Deals

CITIC Capital Partners is sponsoring a management buyout of Narumi China Corp., a Japanese provider of tableware and hear-resistant glass tops for IH and gas stoves. No financial terms were disclosed for the deal, which is expected to close next month.

Apax Partners has agreed to acquire a 49.7% stake in Central European Media Enterprises Ltd. for approximately $190 million in cash from Ronald Lauder, the company’s non-executive chairman. CME operates television networks in six Central and Eastern European countries.

Journal Register Co. (NYSE: JRC) said that it will explore a sale of its New England newspapers, which includes 26 daily and weekly publications in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It has retained Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, which also advised Herald Media on its community newspaper sale earlier this year to GateHouse Media.

QLT Inc. (NASDAQ: QLTI), a Vancouver-based drug company, has rebuffed a buyout offer, according to The Globe and Mail of Toronto. The article says that current QLT shareholder Rodney O’Connor had led the offer, and that he was backed by undisclosed private equity firms. QLT is currently valued at around US$669 million.

PE Exits

Falconhead Capital has sold its stake in National Powersport Auctions (f.k.a. Cycle Express Inc.) to Transportation Resource Partners. No financial terms were disclosed. NPA is a Poway, Calif.-based auction company focused on the power-sport industry. It was acquired by Falconhead in February 2004, with William Blair & Co. and Watch Hill Partners advising on the sale to TRP.

DealerTrack Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: TRAK), a New York-based provider of software and data solutions for the auto retail industry, has filed to sell nine million common shares via a secondary public offering. The company’s stock price closed at $20.95 per share yesterday. Selling shareholders include JPMorgan Partners, GRP Partners and Wachovia.

FoxHollow Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: FOXH) has agreed to acquire Kerberos Proximal Solutions Inc., a Cupertino, Calif.–based provider of medical devices for the removal of blood clots from occluded arteries. The deal is valued at around $32 million, including $13 million in stock. The deal also includes the possibility of earn-out payments in either cash or stock (FoxHollow’s discretion). Kerberos has raised around $23 million in VC funding since its 2001 inception, from firms like RCT BioVentures, Three Arch Partners, Boston Scientific and Alta Partners.

Firm & Fund News

CGS Management of Switzerland has held a CHF 65 million first closing on its second private equity fund. The fund target is CHF 150 million, with an investment focus on small and mid-cap buyouts in European countries like Switzerland and Germany.

Thomas H. Lee Partners has received a limited partner commitment from Bear Stearns, as part of its sixth fund-raising effort.

Human Resources

Peter Thiel and his hedge fund Clarium Capital Management have been accused of fraud by investment firm Amisil Holdings. According to a suit filed in U.S. District Court, Clarium did not properly share its profits from the IPO of PayPal, and from its subsequent acquisition by eBay. Thiel is a PayPal co-founder, and also serves as a general partner for VC firm The Founders’ Fund.

William J. Stuart has joined Avici Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: AVCI) as senior vice president of finance and administration. He previously served as a general partner of venture capital firm Still River Funds.

Johannes Gabel has joined the New York office of Fulbright & Jaworski LLP as an international corporate partner. Gabel previously was with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.