PE Week Wire: Friday, January 2, 2009

Not quite sure why I’m publishing today, as it seems that most everyone else believes we’re in the midst of a four-day holiday weekend (including my email techies). Actually makes reporting quite hard, as it’s unclear if people aren’t returning phone calls because: (A) They’re intentionally avoiding my questions, or (B) They aren’t checking their messages. It’s probably the former, but benefits of the doubt and all…

At least someone from AIG wrote in to confirm that Tom Rest has left the firm’s private equity funds group, which he joined in 2007 after having run PE for the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System. So there’s a small bit of scoopiness for you. And now onto a bunch of links from peHUB:

* peHUB’s Greatest Hits of 2008: To close out the year with a self-indulgent bang, we’ve unlocked our top ten most popular stories from the archives. Enjoy reminiscing…

* First Read, including arguments that zero is not the lower bounds for nominal interest rates, and that the U.S. will disintigrate next year (the two are not officially connected).

* Second Opinion, including a VC wishlist for ’09 and why Dow/Rohm is no Huntsman/Hexion.

* From Cerberus with Love: Cerberus Capital Management made some non-Chrysler/GMAC news last week, when CNBC reported that the firm would limit investor withdrawals from one of its hedge funds. The announcement was made in a confidential Dec. 19 letter to limited partners of Cerberus Partners LP, and peHUB has scored a copy for your downloading pleasure.

* Chris Bulger: What is my company worth today?

* Translating PE Speak: Like most industries, private equity has its own ridiculous language. Here’s a decoder.

* Erin reads Michael Wolff’s recent Vanity Fair piece on private equity, and considers if it’s finally time for private equity to freak out.

* Will PE-backed Univision be among the media industry’s next victims?

Top Three

Solyndra Inc., a Fremont, Calif.-based maker of photovoltaic systems for the commercial rooftop market, has raised $219.2 million in Series E funding, according to a regulatory filing. Backers include Argonaut Ventures, U.S. Venture Partners, CMEA Ventures and Redpoint Ventures.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM.N) was the world’s largest underwriter in 2008 as measured by issuance volume, helped by its acquisition of Bear Stearns Cos., according to Thomson Reuters data.

2008 was the slowest year for VC-backed liquidity events since 2003, according to new data from Dow Jones VentureSource. The year saw only $24.1 billion in IPO and M&A exit value, which was down 58% from the $57.6 billion produced in 2007. This included a fourth quarter without a single IPO.

VC Deals

Socialbomb, a social gaming company, has secured $240,000 of a $350,000 funding round from investors like First Round Capital, according to a regulatory filing.

Buyout Deals

Nordic Capital has invested approximately $64 million into existing portfolio company Thule AB, in order to preserve its majority equity position. The move came after certain Thule lenders swapped debt for equity. Nordic bought Thule, a Swedish maker of auto roof-racks, from Candover last year for around €1.3 billion.

PE Exits

CIVC Brazil and IIFIP have sold their stakes in Oeste Participacoes, operator of Rio de Janeiro’s subway system, to Megapar for approximately $430 million.

PE-Backed M&A

Atlantic Marine Holding Co., a portfolio company of J.F. Lehman & Co., has acquired two companies: Millennium Industrial and Marine Solutions Inc., a steel and pipe fabrication company specializing in on-site drill rig and offshore vessel repair and conversion, and Boston Ship Acquisition LLC, a dry dock operator and provider of maintenance, repair, overhaul and conversion services for non-U.S. Navy government vessels and cruise ships. No financial terms were disclosed.

Firms & Funds

Guggenheim Partners has secured $49.5 million so far for its inaugural early-stage fund, which is being placed by Moravia Capital.

Human Resources

Vanessa Indriolo, director of private equity at Fifth Third Bank, has been elected to the board of the Institutional Limited Partners Association (ILPA). She will serve as two-year term.

Verso Paper Corp. (NYSE: VRS) announced that Josh Harris of Apollo Management has resigned from the company’s board of directors, and that he will be succeeded by fellow Apollo partner Eric Press.