PE Week Wire: Mon., Dec. 10, 2007

Just some quick notes to kick off Monday, as my fingers are still iced from an evening in Foxboro (Note to self: Never again forget gloves when attending a December football game):

*** Last Friday we introduced video over at peHUB, in a sacrifice of my dwindling time to the e-fashion gods. The first two “posts” are about the Carissa Project and the War on Greed — which were discussed in this space last week – including video from both. The Carissa footage is particularly powerful, and is different from what’s up on her website.

I’ve been kicking around a bunch of ideas on how to use video going forward, and hope to soon find some rhythm. Maybe a daily news/commentary piece, maybe in-studio interviews (if I can drag folks down to the home office), maybe taking the camera on the road. All thoughts are suggestions are welcome.

We’re using Brightcove for the hosting, so feel free to request syndication rights. I also plan to post them on YouTube, and promise that the sound/lighting quality will soon improve. In all candor, I had never owned a video camera before last week, so this is kinda a work in progress for me. A presumptive thanks for watching…

*** Quiz Time: Highland Capital Partners announced today that it has promoted Peter Bell and Richard de Silva to general partner. What it didn’t announce was that general partner Jon Auerbach – he of Amp’d Mobile infamy — has left, to become a managing partner elsewhere in, or around, Boston. Can you name his new address?

*** Answer Key: Following Buyouts West last month, I asked the following question: I shared the stage with seven people at the conference, but only one of them works at a firm that closed a fund yesterday. Can you name that firm? Someone finally got it right yesterday, so the answer is…

TA Associates, which has quietly closed its sixth Atlantic & Pacific fund with $1.75 billion. The A&P family of funds traces its roots back to the early 1980s, when tax laws made it difficult for private equity firms to raise funds that included both U.S. and foreign limited partners. So TA just created separate pools for each, which co-invest alongside with one another.

The prior A&P fund closed in 2004 with $800 million, compared to a $2 billion “general” fund. Like its predecessor, A&P VI is denominated in dollars, although don’t be surprised if LPs ask for euros the next go-around.

*** Draper Fisher Jurvetson closed its ninth early-stage fund late last year with $600 million, but apparently that wasn’t quite enough. I first saw it in a regulatory filing, and yesterday confirmed it with a DFJ partner.

*** Speaking of regulatory filings: Short-hand blog company Twitter just filed to say that it has raised $4.8 million of a $5.4 million Series B round. But don’t get all… well, atwitter. It’s the same round that got reported back in July, from Union Square Ventures and Charles River Ventures. But at least we now have a dollar amount. The company is not currently raising new capital, although could do so sometime next year.

*** I’ll be on CNBC tomorrow morning to give a 2008 buyouts market preview. Something about “when the deals will return.” For those keeping score at home, my previous prediction was late September of this year. Cable news has such great propensity to forgive and forget…

Top Three

The Blackstone Group has pulled out of buyout talks with Australian agricultural chemicals group Nufarm Ltd. (AX: NUF). The firm was reported to have an informal Au$3.4 billion offer on the table, along with partners Fox Paine & Co. and China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina). Nufarm shares dipped 12.1% today on the news.

Blink, a European air taxi startup, has raised $30 million in private equity funding from undisclosed investors. It also announced that it will launch operations in May, and that it has placed an order for 30 Cessna Citation Mustangs. The Blink service will be managed by European charter operator TAG Aviation.

The Draths Corp., an Okemos Mich.-based “green” bio-chemical engineering company, has secured $2.5 million of a $5 million Series A round from Khosla Ventures, according to a regulatory filing. The company aims to produce a key building block to anti-influenza drug Tamiflu, and also to develop new anti-influenza drugs to deal with potential viral resistance. Samir Kaul of Khosla Ventures has taken a board seat. The company previously had received a $1 million seed investment from Brad Greenspan, former chairman and CEO of Intermix Media (i.e., MySpace). Greenspan also sits on the Draths board of directors.

VC Deals

Fundamental Applied Biology Inc., a Menlo Park, Calif.-based developer of a cell-free protein synthesis technology used to produce drugs and vaccines, has raised $21 million in Series B funding. Return backer SV Life Sciences co-led the round, and was joined by Alta Partners. The company previously had raised around $2.3 million. In other FAB news, the company named Daniel Gold, former executive with Human Genome Sciences, as its new CEO.

Asuragen Inc., an Austin, Texas-based provider of molecular diagnostics for oncology, has raised $18.5 million in Series B fnding. PTV Sciences was joined by return backers Telegraph Hill Partners and Growth Capital Partners.

NeuroVasx Inc., a Maple Grove, Minn.-based developer of catheter and implant technologies to treat acute stroke, has raised $8.5 million in new funding. Backers include Miller Johnson Steichen Kinnard and the Stephens Group.

Music Intelligence Solutions Inc., a San Francisco-based provider of digital music and media discovery, has raised $7 million. No investor information was disclosed.

EdgeCast Networks, a Los Angeles-based rich media content delivery network, has raised $6 million in Series B funding. Steamboat Ventures led the round, and was joined by Series A backers like ConemaNow chairman Mark Amin and Lionsgate Films CEO Jon Feltheimer.

LogiXML Inc., a McLean, Va.-based provider of Web-based reporting and analysis products for the enterprise, has raised $5 million from Updata Partners.

MixerCast (fka NanoCast Labs) has called down $4.25 million of a $5.57 million Series B round, according to a regulatory filing. Intel Capital was joined by return backer ComVentures. According to the ComVentures website, MixerCast is “developing a service that allows the creation, publication and distribution of all types of rich-media expression and enables users to easily create mixed-media objects – video, audio, image and text.”

Scrapblog, a Miami, Fla.-based provider of an online service for creating and sharing multimedia scrapbooks, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A-1 funding from Steamboat Ventures. Earlier this year, the company had raised around $2.5 million from Longworth Venture Partners.

Buyout Deals

Code Hennessy & Simmons and The Edgewater Funds have acquired American Laser Centers, a national chain of facilities that provide laser hair removal and other noninvasive aesthetic services. No financial terms were disclosed. As part of the deal, former La Petite Academy CEO Gary Graves has been appointed to succeed American Laser Centers founder Rich Morgan as CEO.

Exponent Private Equity has acquired a majority stake in UK handbag and luggage firm Radley + Co. from Phoenix Equity Partners, for an equity value of £130 million.

Wind Point Partners has acquired the gas technologies business group of Harsco Corp. (NYSE: HSC), which has been renamed Taylor-Wharton International. The deal was valued at $300 million, plus up to $40 million in earnouts. GE Capital Partners served as lead arranger for the leveraged financing, with Merrill Lynch Capital serving as syndication agent. Mezzanine notes were provided by Audax Mezzanine, Carlyle Mezzanine Partners and Partners Group, while Stockwell Capital co-invested in the equity.

Hotter Shoes, a UK-based provider of branded comfortable footwear for the gray market, has raised £21 million in private equity funding from Gresham Private Equity.

PE Exits

The Providence Service Corp. (Nasdaq: PRSC) has completed its acquisition of LogistiCare Inc., an Atlanta-based coordinator of non-emergency transportation services to Medicaid recipients, from Charterhouse Group, Summit Partners and AlpInvest Partners. The deal was valued at approximately $220 million in cash and converted employee stock options, which is around 9x estimated 2007 EBITDA. The sellers also could receive a $40 million earn-out in 2004. LogistiCare was acquired by the sellers in 2004 for approximately $155 million.

Volcano Corp. (Nasdaq: VOLC) has agreed to acquire CardioSpectra Inc., a San Antonio, Texas-based developer of a fiber optic-based cardiac catheter to produce real-time, high-resolution images of vulnerable plaque. The deal includes a $25 million up-front cash payment, plus earn-outs. CardioSpectra has raised around $4 million in VC funding from firms like ATP Partners, Scientific Health Development Ltd. and the University of Texas.

PE-Backed M&A

Adknowledge, a Kansas City-based provider of behavioral online advertising solutions, has acquired Cubics, an online advertising network created to focus on the Facebook developer community. No financial terms were disclosed. Adknowledge raised $48 million in funding last year from Technology Crossover Ventures.

U.S. HealthWorks Medical Group, a provider of outpatient occupational healthcare services in California, has acquired Inland Industrial Medical Group of Ontario, California. No financial terms were disclosed. U.S. HealthWorks has raised around $131 million since 1996. Current shareholders include Three Arch Partners, Salix Ventures, AIG Altaris Health Partners and Dynamic Healthcare Solutions.

Human Resources

Radius Ventures has promoted David Stoffel to partner. He had joined the firm in 2003, after having worked in the healthcare I-banking group of Credit Suisse.

Trevor Turbidy has joined Avista Capital Partners as an energy industry advisor. He previously was CEO of Trico Marine Services, a provider of marine support vessel services to the offshore oil and gas industry.