PE Week Wire: Fri., April 20, 2007

Wall Street may favor Barrack Obama, but buyout pros are firmly behind former colleague Mitt Romney.

The ex-Bain Capital chief raised approximately $257,525 from buyout pros in Q1 2007, according to data compiled by (go here to download the spreadsheet). This compares to just $85,350 for Obama, $47,900 for Hillary Clinton, $47,900 for Rudy Giuliani and $41,450 for John McCain. Much farther back in the pack are Chris Dodd ($14,600), Bill Richardson ($9,900) and John Edwards ($7,400).

Individuals are permitted to donate up to $2,300 to a single candidate for a single election cycle, which could mean a total of $4,600 if evenly spit between the primary and general elections. Over half of Romney’s private equity donors have hit the $2,300 limit, while all but a small handful have committed at least $2,100. Only one Romney donor — Charles Hanemann of H.I.G. Capital — has donated $4,600.

Other $4,600 contributors include: Chris Santana and Michael Weinstock of Quadrangle Group (both to Giuliani); Bradford Freeman of Freeman Spogli & Co. (McCain); Brooke Coburn and Bruce Rosenbloom of The Carlyle Group (both Obama); and John Canning and Paul Finnegan of Madison Deaborn (both Obama).

When it comes to some of the biggest LBO names, there is no consensus pick. David Bonderman and Henry Kravis support McCain, Leon Black is with Dodd, Tom Lee backs Clinton and Steve Schwarzman has funded both Romney and McCain.

This data was compiled from the Federal Election Commission’s disclosure database, and likely excludes certain donations made by smaller private equity investors, or by investors who did not identify their place of employment. I hope to soon compile a similar list of venture capitalists…

Oh, and if you have a good PE-specific reason to support on candidate over another, let me know (or post a comment on the site)…

*** Is your firm looking to hire summer interns from the current crop of first-year MBA candidates? If so, please let me know via email (you can just reply to the Wire). That’s right, we’re almost ready to launch our annual Desperate Interns Drive. It’s basically just like the Internship Rodeo we ran a few months back, except it’s a bit later in the game for both prospective employers and employees.

All postings will be put into the password-protected MBA Forum section of, and must include firm type (VC, LBO, I-Bank, etc.) and job location. Also, please feel encouraged to provide any additional information as you see fit, including firm name, special requirements, salary info, etc. There is no fee for this service. For context, MBA Forum currently has over 1,400 members.

*** Joanna has a final dispatch from the NVCA Annual Meeting in Washington DC.

*** GO SOX

Top Three

Terra Firma Capital Partners and Wellcome Trust have been joined by HBOS in their efforts to acquire British drugstore chain Alliance Boots PLC. The trio offered a revised 1,115 pence per share for Boots, just after the company’s board agreed to accept a 1,090-per share offer from KKR and Boots chairman/largest shareholder Stefano Pessina. The Terra Firma-led offer values Boots at approximately Gbp10.9 billion.

General Atlantic and Francisco Partners have some competition for Aeroflex Inc. (Nasdaq: ARXX), a Plainview, N.Y.-based provider of high tech solutions to the aerospace, defense, cellular and broadband communications markets. The two firms recently agreed to acquire Aeroflex for $13.50 per share, but the company announced yesterday that it has received a $14 per share conditional proposal led by Veritas Capital. The standing bid would value Aeroflex at approximately $1 billion.

Metabolex Inc., a Hayward, Calif.–based drug company focused on diabetes and other metabolic disorders, has raised $32 million in Series D funding. MPM BioEquities led the deal, and was joined by fellow new investors AllianceBernstein, Deerfield Management, T. Rowe Price. Return backers include Alta Partners, Bay City Capital, Biotech Turnaround Fund, Birchmere Ventures, Johnson & Johnson Development Corp., KBC Funds, Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch, Pictet Funds – Biotecho, Merlin Biomed, Novo Ventures, VantagePoint Ventures, Venrock Associates and Versant Ventures. Metabolex has raised around $196 million in total VC funding since 1996, including a 2003 financial restructuring.

VC Deals

SurgRx Inc., a Redwood City, Calif.-based developer of laparoscopic vessel fusion tools for surgical hemostasis, has raised $20 million in Series F funding. Hedge fund Magnetar Capital Return was joined by return backers Alta Partners, New Enterprise Associates, California Technology Ventures, Prospect Venture Partners and Trellis Health Ventures. The company has raised around $63 million in total VC funding since 2003.

PodBridge Inc., a Mountain View, Calif.-based provider of ad placement inside of podcasts, has raised around $8.5 million in Series B funding, according to a regulatory filing. Sutter Hill Ventures was joined by return backers Mayfield and Worldview Technology Partners. Greg Sands of SHV will join the PodBridge board of directors.

Newforma Inc., a Manchester, N.H.-based provider of project software for the design and building industry, has raised $8 million in Series C funding. Return backers include Borealis Ventures, Kodiak Venture Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners. Newforma has raised over $21 million in total VC funding since 2004.

Emotive Communications Inc., an Encino, Calif.-based developer of interactive ringtone technology for 3G, 4G and VoIP services, has raised $7.7 million in first-round funding. Participants included D.E. Shaw, Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, Warner Music Group and unidentified angels.

Optinuity Inc., a Bethesda, Md.-based provider of IT process automation software for data center management, has raised $6 million in Series B funding. Edison Ventures led the deal, and was joined by Series A backers New Enterprise Associates, Venrock Associates and Mid-Atlantic Venture Funds. Optinuity has raised $12.5 million in total VC funding since 2004.

TripIt Inc., a San Francisco-based online travel startup, has raised $1 million in Series A funding from O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, according to a regulatory filing. One of the company’s executives is Hotwire co-founder Gregg Brockway.

Fintura Corp., an Atlanta-based company that helps financial institutions expand their consumer product lines, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding from Battery Ventures.

Buyout Deals

Formation Capital and JER Partners have increased their buyout offer for Genesis HealthCare Corp. (Nasdaq: GHCI), from $63 per share to $64.25 per share. The total deal is valued at $1.7 billion, including the assumption of around $475 million in debt. A shareholder vote is scheduled for today. GHC is a Kennett Square, Pa.-based long-term care provider with over 200 skilled nursing centers and assisted living residences in 13 eastern states.

Cerberus has agreed to acquire Option One Mortgage Corp. from H&R Block Inc. (NYSE: HRB). The cash purchase price will be the value of the tangible net assets of the business at the date of closing, less $300 million. As of January 31, the tangible net assets were $1.27 billion. Option One is an Irvine, Calif.-based national wholesale originator and servicer of non-prime residential mortgage loans.

The Stephens Group and Lake Capital have agreed to acquire a majority stake in Vestcom International Inc., a provider of retail marketing solutions, from Cornerstone Equity Investors and company management. No financial terms were disclosed.

Apax Partners has decided against bidding for a 25% stake in sports apparel company Adidas, according to AFX. A Financial Times Deutscheland report earlier this week suggested that Apax was considering a €50 per share offer.

Cerberus Capital has abandoned its efforts to acquire bankrupt car parts manufacturer Delphi for $3.4 billion, following reported difficult negotiations with the United Auto Workers Union. Other members of the Delphi consortium – including Appaloosa Management – are expected to remain.

National Home Health Corp. (Nasdaq: NHHC) has agreed to accept a $12 per share buyout offer from Premier Home Health Services Inc., thus triggering the termination of a prior $11.35 per share agreement with Angelo Gordon & Co. The NHHC board said that the move would “reasonable” prompt Angelo Gordon to submit a revised bid.

LaNetro Zed, a Madrid, Spain-based provider of mobile content and services, has received an undisclosed amount of private equity funding from Veronis Suhler Stevenson.

PE-Backed IPOs

Simcere Pharmaceutical Group, a Chinese generic drug-maker, priced 15.6 million American depository shares at $14.50 per share ($12.50-$14.50 range), for an IPO take of approximately $226.6 million. It plans to trade on the NYSE under ticker symbol SCR, with Goldman Sachs (Asia) serving as lead underwriter. Shareholders include Hony Capital.

PTC Therapeutics Inc., a South Plainfield, N.J.-based drug company focused on post-transcriptional control mechanisms, has withdrawn its $86.25 million IPO filing, citing “market conditions.” The company had originally filed in March 2006, with Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan serving as lead underwriters. PTC has raised over $143 million in total VC funding since its 1998 inception, including a $10 million Series F round earlier this year (according to a regulatory filing). Backers include CSFB Private Equity, HBM BioVentures, Vulcan Ventures, Novo A/S, Delphi Ventures, Bay City Capital, Novartis BioVentures, Amgen Ventures and HealthCap.

Imperium Renewables Inc., a Seattle-based biodeisel producer, is planning to file for an IPO later this year, according to VentureWire. The $200 million-$300 million offering would value the company at over $1 billion. Imperium is run by former venture capitalist Martin Tobias, and has raised funding from such firms as Nth Power, Technology Partners, Vulcan Capital, BlackRock Investment Management, Capricorn Management and Silver Point Capital.

PE-Backed M&A

Bioniche Pharma Group Ltd., an Ireland–based maker of injectable generic drugs, has agreed to acquire Aloprim for Injection from Nabi Biopharmaceuticals for $3.7 million. AfI is a branded injectable drug for patients with leukemia, lymphoma, and solid-tumor malignancies who are receiving cancer therapy that cause elevations of serum and urinary uric acid levels. Bioniche Pharma is a portfolio company of RoundTable Healthcare Partners.

Empire Education Group Inc., a beauty schools operator that counts Key Principal Partners as a minority shareholder, has agreed to merge with 51 accredited cosmetology schools from Regis Corp. (NYSE: RGS). Empire will hold a 51% stake in the newly-formed company, while Regis will retain 49 percent. No financial terms were disclosed for the deal, which is expected to close on July 1.

PE Exits

The Wicks Group of Cos. has retained Credit Suisse Securities to explore strategic alternatives for horse-racing content provider Daily Racing Form LLC, including a possible sale.

Agribusiness Partners International has agreed to sell Russian poultry processor Chicken Kingdom to the Cherkizovo Group (LSE: CHE). No financial terms were disclosed. API is a $100 million private equity fund formed in 1996, with the support of OPIC.

Hachette Filipacchi Media US, publisher of such magazines as Car & Driver, has agreed to acquire Jumpstart Automotive Media, a San Francisco-based vertical advertising network focused exclusively on the automotive industry. The deal includes an initial cash payment of $84 million, plus up to $26 million in earnouts in 2008 and 2010, based on the reaching of certain specified earnings targets. Jumpstart Automotive Media raised $10 million last summer from Alta Communications, at a post-money valuation of approximately $40 million.

Experian Group Ltd. (LSE: EXPN) has acquired Hitwise Pty Ltd., an Australia-based provider of website performance monitoring, for approximately $240 million in cash. Hitwise had seed backing from Allen & Buckeridge and later-stage capital from Insight Venture Partners.

Investcorp has completed its sale of Harborside Healthcare Corp. to Sun Healthcare Group Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNH). The deal includes $349.4 million in cash for Harborside’s equity, while Sun also entered into a new $485 million senior secured credit facility led by Credit Suisse. Harborside is a Boston-based operator of 73 skilled nursing facilities, one assisted living facility and one independent living facility with approximately 9,000 licensed beds in ten states.

Human Resources

Susan Balloch has joined The Blackstone Group as an executive director, where she will focus on firm management and administrative activities. She previously was in the investor relations group of Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe.

Alexandra Gardiner has joined EMAlternatives as chief financial officer. She previously served as vice president of finance for The Rock Greek Group, a $3.5 billion hedge fund-of-funds manager.

Misti Ushio has joined Harris & Harris Group Inc. as an associate in the firm’s New York office. She previously managed nanotech and materials science invention and patent portfolios for Columbia University.

Wachovia Corp. has implemented a reorganization, which includes financial sponsors chief Jonathan Weiss now also overseeing corporate finance.