PE Week Wire, Jan. 29, 2007

The latest set of private equity performance data is out, and it looks a lot like the previous set. The only real changes come in one-year returns for both venture and buyouts, with the former dropping from 13.7% to 10.8%, and the latter dropping from 26.2% to 23.6 percent. Also notable is the short-term rebound of mid-market buyout funds ($250m-$500m), with one-year returns of 37.2 percent. Of course, it would probably be more accurate to refer to this as the rebound of small-market funds, given that today’s $250m-$500m won’t really let you play in today’s mid-market. The $0-$250m category in this revised categorization would be micro-market… But I digress.

I’ve also posted the performance stats online.

Top Three

Laureate Education Inc. (Nasdaq: LAUR), a Baltimore-based provider of on-campus and online higher education, has agreed to be acquired for $3.8 billion by a consortium that includes Laureate chairman and CHO Douglas Becker, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Citigroup Private Equity; S.A.C. Capital Management, SPG Partners, Bregal Investments, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Sterling Capital, Makena Capital, Torreal SA and Southern Cross Capital. Laureate shareholders would receive $60.50 per share, and the agreement includes a 45 day go-shop provision.

LinkedIn Corp., a Mountain View, Calif.-based social networking company for businesspeople, has raised $12.8 million in Series C funding from Bessemer Venture Partners and European Founders Fund. Existing backers Sequoia Capital and Greylock did not participate in the deal, which reportedly came with a $250 million post-money valuation. LinkedIn previously had raised $15 million over two rounds of funding in 2004 and 2004.

Paige Daly has joined LNK Partners as a managing director. She previously was with Apax Partners as a partner in the firm’s retail and consumer group.

VC Deals

BlueTarp Financial, a Charlotte, N.C.-based provider of financial services to the building materials and supply industry, has raised $18.5 million in Series B funding. Trinity Ventures led the deal, and was joined by return backers Highland Capital Partners, IDG Ventures Boston and Village Ventures., a Guangzhou, China-based information classification platform, reportedly has raised $5 million in VC funding from an undisclosed Dutch venture capital firm.

Shiny Media, a UK-based blog publisher, has raised $4.5 million from Bright Station Ventures.

Sentrigo Ltd., an Israel-based provider of enterprise database security, has raised $3.5 million in first-round funding from Benchmark Capital, according to Globes Online.

Skinkers Ltd., a UK-based provider of P2P technology for live content delivery, has raised £2 million led by a £1.75 million infusion from existing backer NewMedia Spark.

Ratepoint, a Boston-based provider of a user ratings toolbar, has raised just over $1 million in first-round funding from Prism VentureWorks, .406 Ventures and company management.

Buyout Deals

The Carlyle Group has agreed to acquire organic residuals recycler Synagro Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: SYGR) for $5.76 per share. The total deal is valued at $772 million, including the assumption of $310 million in debt. Lehman Brothers managed the auction.

Educate Inc. (Nasdaq: EEEE), a Baltimore–based provider of supplemental education products and services to the pre-K-12 market, has agreed to be acquired for $8 per share by Sterling Capital Partners, Citigroup Private Equity and members of company management. The total deal is valued at approximately $535 million, including assumed debt. Selling shareholders will include Apollo Management, which holds a majority stake in Educate via its position in Sylvan Learning.

Baird Capital Partners Europe has sponsored a €156 million management buyout of Zarges Tubesca Group, a European manufacturer of aluminum-based platform and elevator systems for industry, airports and wind power systems, from AlpInvest. Zarges Tubesca has dual headquarters in Weilheim, Germany and Ailly, France.

Leonard Green & Partners has sponsored a recapitalization of The Brickman Group, a Gaithersburg, Md.-based provider of commercial landscape maintenance services. No financial terms were disclosed for the deal, which represents an exit for CIVC Partners.

Aramark Corp. has been taken private via a $8.3 billion buyout led by CEO Joseph Neubauer, and including private equity firms GS Capital Partners, CCMP Capital Advisors, JPMorgan Partners, Thomas H. Lee Partners and Warburg Pincus. The deal provided Aramark shareholders with $33.80 per share.

The Blackstone Group has agreed to acquire an undisclosed stake in Indian media company Ushodaya Enterprises Ltd., in exchange for a $275 million equity infusion. The deal also includes $190 million in bank financing, and is subject to regulatory approval. Kotak Investment Banking advised Ushodaya Enterprises on the deal. Ushodaya Enterprises owns India’s third-largest newspaper and fourth-largest private television broadcasting network.

Levine Leichtman Capital Partners has acquired Wetzel’s Pretzels LLC, a Pasadena, Calif.-based franchisor of soft pretzels and pretzel-based snacks category. No financial terms were disclosed. BB&T Capital Markets advised Wetzel’s on the deal.

PE-Backed IPOs

Monotype Imaging Holdings Inc., a Woburn, Mass.-based provider of text imaging software, has filed for a $135 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol TYPE, with Banc of America Securities serving as lead underwriter. TA Associates holds an 81.2% pre-IPO ownership position, with D.B. Zwirn holding a 3.9% stake.

Oncogenex Technologies Inc., a Vancouver-based drug company focused on cancer therapeutics, has set its proposed IPO terms to 4.5 million common shares being offered at between $10 and $12 per share. It plans to trade on both the Nasdaq and TSX, with RBC Capital Markets serving as lead underwriter. Shareholders include Ventures West, BDC Venture Capital, GrowthWorks, HIG Capital and Milestone Medica Corp.

PE Exits

Baird Capital Partners Europe has sold Hahl Group GmbH to Lenzing Plastics GmbH, a subsidiary of Austrian Lenzing AG, for an undisclosed amount. Hahl is a Munderkingen, Germany-based manufacturer of monofilaments for synthetic brushes, bristles and canvas. It wasc acquired by Baird as part of a management buyout in April 2003.

PE-Backed M&A

Perimeter eSecurity, a Milford, Conn.-based provider of on-demand security solutions, has acquired Message Secure Corp., a Lowell, Mass.-based provider of managed security solutions to financial institutions and other businesses. No financial terms were disclosed. Perimeter eSecurity shareholders include Total Technology Ventures, The Astri Group, Connecticut Innovations, 1to1 Venture Partners and Message Secure was backed by Baker Capital.

Nutilux, a company controlled by Permira, is in talks to acquire a 74.05% stake in animal nutrition company Provimi from PAI Partners and CVC Capital Partners. The deal would be valued at around €580 million.

Firms & Funds

Abingworth, a UK-based venture capital firm focused on life sciences, has closed its eighth fund — Abingworth Bioventures V — with Gbp300 million. MVision served as placement agent.

ePlanet Ventures is targeting $500 million for its second fund, according to The Economic Times.

Merrill Lynch has agreed to acquire First Republic Bank for $1.8 billion in cash and stock. First Republic shareholders would receive $55 per share.

Vintage Fund Management of Los Angeles has closed its inaugural private equity fund, which will focus on middle-market companies with annual revenue of between $20 million and $200 million. The fund is capitalized with $150 million, including capital from the SBIC and from limited partners like New York State Common Retirement Fund, Aldus Equity Partners, GKM Generation Funds, Pacific Western Bank and First Republic Bank.

Human Resources

Hassan El-Khatib has joined The Carlyle Group as a Cairo-based managing director focused on opportunities inc Egypt and Northern Africa. He previously was with EFG-Hermes Private Equity.

Ben Choi has joined Storm Ventures, after spending the past year and a half with CIA venture arm In-Q-Tel. In an email announcing his move, Choi jokes: “Please don’t hesitate to drop me a line. (They aren’t watching me anymore.)”