PE Week Wire: Fri., Oct. 19, 2007

A big thanks to the more than 1,400 of you who have completed our Annual Reader Survey. My goal is to hit 2,000 by end of day. It’s an arbitrary goal to be sure, as I’d probably be aiming for 3,000 had 2,400 people responded. But I just like any time another thousand readers… well, whenever another thousand readers do anything.

So if you haven’t yet participated, it will only take a few minutes. Go here:

* Speaking of the Reader Survey, the following comment popped up a few times: “I would prefer links to additional information on deals, rather than links to company websites.”

It’s easier said than done, given the time constraints of a one-man effort (seems like a good time to hire – any of my journalistic readers interested?). But I nonetheless made a trial effort for this morning’s news section. Specifically, most of the news blurbs are followed by a link that says “Get more info.” These link to press releases announcing the deal, which I have posted to peHUB. There’s also one instance of “Get full story,” which is actual editorial content from AP.

It’s certainly not perfect, but it is a start. If this is something you’re interested in, make sure to click some of the links, as I’ll be using today’s traffic to help gauge whether the extra info is worth pursuing and perfecting…

* We recently broke down which presidential candidates were getting the most financial support from buyout pros. Now it’s time to analyze venture capitalist donations…

I spent a few hours yesterday searching the FEC database for 2007 presidential primary contributions from any VCs whose firms have raised at least $150 million in fund capital since 2000. The clear winner was Barack Obama, with $128,208 from 75 different VCs. Running second was Mitt Romney with $94,500 from 51 contributors, while Hillary Clinton ($45,950), Chris Dodd ($22,700) and Rudy Giuliani ($21,100) rounded out the top five.

Democrats raised nearly 60% more than did Republicans, compared to an 18% advantage for the GOP among buyout pros. If you add the two groups together (i.e., the entire private equity market), you get around $762k for the Republicans and nearly $749k for the Democrats. Basically a tie, which is what we’ve seen from past presidential polls of PE Week Wire readers. Big money red tempered by coastal residency blue…

You can get all the VC donation data here, including a spreadsheet of who gave what to whom.

Top Three

MacroGenics Inc. and Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE: LLY) have entered into a strategic agreement to develop and commercialize teplizumab, a humanized anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody. The deal could be worth in excess of $1 billion for MacroGenics, which has raised over $105 million in VC funding from Ventures West, Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, RiverVest Venture Partners, Biogen Idec New Ventures, TPG Ventures, Alta Partners, InterWest Partners, MPM Capital, Mithra Ventures, OrbiMed Advisors and Red Abbey Venture Partners. Get more info

Direct Flow Medical Inc., a Santa Rosa, Calif.–based developer of a minimally-invasive implant to treat heart valve disease, has raised $27 million in Series B funding. Johnson & Johnson Development Corp. and Foundation Medical Partners co-led the round, and were joined by fellow new backers VantagePoint Venture Partners and ePlanet. Returning shareholders included EDF Ventures, New Leaf Venture Partners and Spray Venture Partners. Get more info

SoundBite Communications Inc., a Burlington, Mass.-based provider of on-demand automated voice messaging solutions, has been hit with a patent infringement claim by Universal Recovery Systems Inc. The suit comes on the eve of SoundBite’s IPO, which is expected to sell six million shares at between $12 and $14 per share. SoundBite has raised around $30.4 million in VC funding since 2000, from firms like North Bridge Venture Partners (46.1% pre-IPO stake), Mosaic Venture Partners (20.8%), Commonwealth Venture Capital (16.4%) and Venture Capital Fund of New England (9.9%).

VC Deals

Tejas Networks, an India-based provider of optical networking products, has raised $24 million in fifth-round funding from Goldman Sachs. The company has now raised nearly $70 million in total VC funding since its 2000 inception. Past backers include Sandstone Capital,SUN Technologies, Battery Ventures, Intel Capital and Dr. Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande.

Ekinops, a French provider of optical transport and DWDM solutions, has raised $20 million in second-round funding. Odyssee Venture led the deal, and was joined by return backers Auriga Partners, Equitis, Siparex, Societe Génerale Asset Management and Ventech. Clipperton Finance advised Ekinops on the deal. Get more info

Direvo Biotech AG, a Germany–based developer bioengineered products and processes for industrial and pharmaceutical applications, has raised €12 million in Series C funding. Bankhaus Wolbern and TVM Capital co-led the round, and were joined by NRW Bank and return backers Danisco Venture AS, S-Equity Partner, Mulligan BioCapital, Signet Healthcare Partners and individual angels. Certain Series C buyers acquired all common shares held by the company’s founders, including Evotec AG, and former management. Get more info

Pellet-Art, a Poland-based wood pellet producer, has raised $9.5 million from Penton Partners. Get more info

Vocalocity, an Atlanta-based provider of hosted VoIP services to micro enterprises, has raised $8 million in Series A funding. Noro-Moseley Partners led the deal, and was joined by Pittco Capital Partners, Imlay Partners and company management. Get more info

United Dogs & Cats Ltd., an Estonia-based operator of social networks for pet-owners, has raised an undisclosed amount of VC funding from Ambient Sound Investments.

Buyout Deals

Marwit Capital Partners has acquired Boot Barn, an Orange, Calif.-based retailer of western footwear and apparel, in partnership with company management. No financial terms were disclosed.

Sentinel Capital Partners has sold Nivel Holdings LLC to Audax Group for an undisclosed amount. Nivel is a Jacksonville, Fla.–based distributor of golf cart aftermarket replacement parts and accessories.

Swander Pace Capital has acquired a control stake in Kooba, a New York–based designer of women’s luxury handbags, accessories and apparel. No financial terms were disclosed. The Sage Group advised Kooba on the deal.

TMB Industries has acquired Stainless Foundry & Engineering Inc., a Milwaukee–based provider of steel and other high-alloy composition castings. No financial terms were disclosed for the deal, which is TMB’s second foundry acquisition of 2007.

Steven Madden Ltd. (Nasdaq: SHOO), a New York-based footwear designer, said that it has received” inquiries from third parties with respect to an acquisition of the company.” No additional information was disclosed, except that the company has retained Peter J. Solomon & Co. as a financial advisor. Steve Madden has a market cap of approximately $400 million.

Shanghai New Sihe Word Co., a Chinese furniture manufacturer, has raised $20 million from Legend Capital, according to Xinhua.

PE-Backed IPOs

Noah Education Holdings Ltd., a Shenzhen, China-based provider of interactive education content in China, raised $137.9 million in its IPO. The company priced 9.85 million American depository shares at $14 per share, which was significantly above its $9.80-$11.80 per share offering range. It will begin trading on the NYSE under ticker symbol NED, while Deutsche Bank Securities served as lead underwriter. Shareholders include Baring Private Equity Partners, Lehman Brothers Commercial Corp. Asia Ltd. and Dynamic View Investments.

Agria Corp., a Chinese provider of upstream agricultural solutions like corn seeds, sheep breeding products and seedling products, has filed for a $175 million IPO. It plans to trade on the NYSE under ticker symbol GRO, with Credit Suisse serving as lead underwriter. Shareholders include Brothers Capital Ltd. (84.6%), TPG (8.4%) and Dubai Investment Group (6.4%).

PE Exits

Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. (Nasdaq: CTSH) has agreed to acquire MarketRx Inc., a Bridgewater, N.J.-based provider of analytics and related software to life sciences companies. The deal is valued at approximately $135 million in cash, and is expected to close later this year. MarketRx has raised over 48 million in VC funding, from firms like WestBridge Capital Partners. Get more info

Insulet Corp. (Nasdaq: PODD), a Bedford, Mass.-based maker of wireless glucose pumps for diabetics, has filed for a secondary public offering of around 4.77 million shares. It would raise just over $113 million, based on yesterday’s closing stock price of $23.77 per share. Selling shareholders include Alta Partners, SV Life Sciences, Pequot Capital, Prism VentureWorks, TIAA-CREF, MedVentures and Silicon Valley Bank. Each of those firms, with the exception of MedVentures, will retain shares following the offering.

PE-Backed M&A

MeeVee Inc., a Burlingame, Calif.-based provider of online video entertainment search solutions, has acquired Top Ten Sources, an Internet aggregator of rich media content from blogs, podcasts, video and mainstream media. No financial terms were disclosed. MeeVee has raised around $27 million in VC funding, from firms like Bay Area Equity Fund, Defta Partners, FCPR Israel Discovery Fund, Labrador Ventures, Rothschild Ventures and WaldenVC. Get more info

Firms & Funds

Syncom Venture Partners has closed its fifth fund with $275.4 million in capital commitments. The Silver Springs, Md.-based firm focuses on early-stage media and communications opportunities, plus select later-stage opportunities.

Sequel Venture Partners of Boulder, Colo. has decided to delay raising its fourth fund, according to VentureWire. Sequel partner Tim Connor said: “The feedback we heard is ‘you’re doing great, we like the team, we like the strategy, we just want to see some more realizations.'”

Human Resources

Francisco Rey has joined The Blackstone Group as a senior managing director in the firm’s corporate advisory group. Rey will be based in London, and previously spent 15 years with Merrill Lynch. Get more info

Marshall Kiev has rejoined Family Management Corp. as president of alternative investments. He previously was with Main Street Resources, where he will continue to source and evaluate investments, and serve on the board of directors. Family Management Corp. is a New York-based private wealth management firm with over $1.5 billion in assets under management.

Scott Halsey has joined I-banking boutique Livingstone as a managing director, where he will head the firm’s specialty chemicals and janitorial/sanitary supply practices. He previously was a principal with Piper Jaffray.