PE Week Wire: Thurs., Dec. 20, 2007

It’s easy for journalists to stereotype private equity professionals. You read stories about venture capitalists building the world’s biggest yachts or buyout pros buying old manuscripts for tens of millions of dollars and it forms a certain picture.

But call on them to share ideas for good, charitable places to give time and money and you’ll get a long and detailed list:

***Vito Colombo, of RSM McGladrey, Inc., offers a program called the Junior Achievement Academy ( It’s similar to BizWorld, but gives high school students the opportunity to start their own companies with mentorship from an outside firm.

The students take a semester to identify a market, collect investment dollars from their mentoring organization, and run their businesses. They present to their mentors at the end of the semester and distribute profits. “It’s really impossible to find an excuse why one shouldn’t start their own company after seeing these kids do it successfully in five months,” Colombo writes. “I’m surprised associates and analysts from VC and LBO funds aren’t encouraged to be involved as company sponsored mentors.”

***Journalists work a lot with public relations executives and the people over at SparkPR are some of the best in the business for the fields I cover. Chris Hempel, one of the firm’s founders, recently discovered that her three-year-old twin girls have a chronic and currently incurable disease called Niemann-Pick Type C. The genetic disease causes progressive deterioration of the central nervous system due to an inability to metabolize cholesterol and is often called “Childhood Alzheimer’s.”

When Chris and Hugh Hempel learned of their daughter’s illness this fall, they did what any well-networked Silicon Valley power couple would do: launch a website and call for a cure. The site is named for their daughters, Addi and Cassi: There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer, donate, or send well wishes for the family at the site. Thanks to Spark’s Rachel Bremer for pointing it out.

***Adam Erlich, a second-year MBA at Wharton, suggests leveraging your efforts. Instead of just volunteering yourself, rally the people in your organization to volunteer beside you. Erlich, along with a few friends, manages 70 volunteers for the BizWorld program each year. (He’s probably going to be looking for a job this spring, by the way. Somebody please hire him.)

***Dean Schaffer, of the Pan American Capital Group, recommends the Andrew Glover Youth Program. The program fights juvenile crime by giving New York City kids an alternative to incarceration. The program fights criminal recidivism by appointing advocates to troubled youth, assigning an individual case worker to deal with the roots of criminal behavior and by establishing education centers. There is more information and opportunities to donate at

***David Linn, of Oak Point Partners, writes about Spin4Survival, an indoor “spin-a-thon” that will take place in various locations on January 27, 2008. Money raised by the event will go to cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “Yellow Jersey” designation goes to any team that raises $10,000. Check it out at

Linn writes that his wife Jennifer Goodman Linn started the program during her ongoing battle with sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. She’s now getting treatments that her program helped fund.

“It may sound a bit cheesy, but I believe that spinning saved my life,” Jennifer writes on her site. “A sport that enables you to compete against yourself and no one else is tremendously inspiring when your body is falling apart inside.”

***Paul Tufaro, of AlpInvest Partners, recommends Minds Matter. The program pairs underprivileged high school students with young professionals to work on getting accepted to summer programs and four-year universities. Students need help working through the SATs, writing essays and understanding financial aid. The Minds Matter program offers help to high school students in New York, Boston, Chicago, Denver and Portland. Check it out at

***Financial executive Bryan Noteboom recommends a program designed to unleash the artist inside each child by teaching them that everything is art. Be an Artist revolves around an interactive session with musician Darden Smith, who helps the children create their own music while showing them they ways they can see themselves as artists, no matter their interest.

“Back in 1982, I shared a series of undergraduate accounting and finance classes at UT-Austin with Darden Smith—in addition to his backpack, Darden would lug a guitar case to class,” Noteboom writes. “I would often catch him after class performing at a (pre-Starbucks) campus coffee shop. Twenty five years later, we’ve both achieved a measure of success in our chosen careers – I took the ‘easy route’ of entrepreneurship, while Darden has built a worldwide following as a singer-songwriter.”

The program doesn’t ask for any donations on its website (, but I’m sure there are opportunities to help.

***Andrew Radin writes in with advice on volunteering. He says people are generally scared off because they don’t know how to volunteer or feel they don’t have time to. But busy people often make the best volunteers, Radin writes: “If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person.”

***Joe offers his own case for charity: “My idea of how the VC/PE can return something: hire one additional person who is looking for a job in the VC/PE field.” Joe says he has more than 20 years of experience working at venture backed health care companies. I’ll waive my usual headhunting fee and give you his contact info for free:

Please consider giving your time and energy toward positive change in the lives of others during 2008.

Alexander Haislip

Top Three

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) could name Indian automaker Tata Motors Ltd. a “preferred bidder” for its Jaguar and Land Rover units as early as Friday, according to two people briefed on the negotiations. The Associated Press also reported that talks continue at present with all three potential suitors, and a final deal is not expected to be announced until early next year, one of the people said. Tata is vying with another Indian automaker, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., as well as U.S. private equity firm One Equity Partners LLC, for the units. Earlier this month the three companies submitted bids that ranged from $1.5 billion to $2 billion, said one of the people.

First Reserve Corp., a Greenwich, Conn.-based private equity firm, has agreed to acquire Abbot Group PLC for about $1.8 billion. First Reserve said the deal will be the largest private equity buyout ever accomplished in the drilling services industry and marks the first and largest European oil field services take-private. The acquisition would be made through Turbo Alpha Ltd., a new company formed for the purpose of implementing the transaction.

A syndicate of four buyers has emerged as the likely winner of a California Public Employees’ Retirement System’s private equity portfolio, ending a year-long saga for the largest portfolio to find its way to the U.S. secondary market to date. LBO Wire also reported that secondary shop Lexington Partners, fund-of-funds managers HarbourVest Partners and Pantheon Ventures, and asset manager Oak Hill Investment Management are in exclusive negotiations to acquire the lion’s share of th! e portfolio of private equity assets, people familiar with the deal said.

VC Deals

Santaris Pharma, a Danish biopharmaceutical company, has completed a €20.4 million ($30 million) private investment round. Gilde Healthcare Partners, a new investor, contributed €7.5 million of the financing, with the rest coming from an international syndicate of existing investors, including BankInvest, Forbion Capital Partners, Global Life Science Venture, Innovation Capital, Novo LD, Omega, Seventure, Sunstone Capital, and members of the company’s board and management.

Purfresh, formerly known as Novazone Inc., has raised a $25 million Series C financing round, including a new lead investment by Chilton Investment Co. along with existing investors Chrysalix Energy, Foundation Capital, Grauer Capital and one additional strategic investor to be named. Purfresh is a Livermore, Calif.-based provider of clean solutions for food and water.

GainSpan, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Wi-Fi sensor network technology company, has completed its Series B funding round, raising a total of $20 million. The round is being led by Opus Capital with participation from returning investors Intel Capital, New Venture Partners, OVP Venture Partners and Sigma Partners. Opus General Partner Carl Showalter will join the GainSpan board.

PlayFirst Inc., a San Francisco-based publisher of casual games, has raised $16.5 million in a Series C financing round led by DCM. Existing investors, including Mayfield Fund, Rustic Canyon Partners, and Trinity Ventures, also participated. Previously, PlayFirst raised a total of $10 million in its Series A and B rounds, bringing the current total of venture capital raised to $26.5 million.

Kyte Inc. has raised $15 million in a second round of funding. The round was led by Nokia Growth Partners (the venture capital management arm of Nokia), NTT DoCoMo Inc.’s DoCoMo Capital Inc. unit, and Telefónica. Other investors in this round include Draper Fisher Jurveston, Holtzbrinck Ventures and Swisscom.

Expansion Capital Partners LLC has made a $12.8 million investment in Element Labs, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based provider of creative light emitting diode solutions for entertainment, architecture and signage applications. Expansion Capital led the Series B preferred round, injecting $10 millionfrom its Clean Technology Fund II. Existing investor Sierra Ventures and lender Gold Hill also participated in the equity raise. Bernardo Llovera, general partner at Expansion Capital, will join Element Labs’s board.

Acquia Inc. has secured $7 million in a Series A financing led by North Bridge Venture Partners, with additional investments coming from O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and Sigma Partners. Acquia is a North Andover, Mass.-based open-source software developer.

Qsecure Inc., a Los Altos, Calif.-based payment platform company, has closed a Series C preferred stock financing round totaling $5 million. The financing was led by QSecure’s existing investors, which include Allegis Capital, Société Générale, UMC Capital, and Worldview Technology Partners.

Holochip Corp., an Albuquerque, N.M.-based maker of adaptive polymer lenses, has raised $2.7 million in series A financing. ITU Ventures of Los Angeles led the funding round. Holochip was founded in 2004 with initial funding from ITU Ventures and investment group New Mexico Angels, among others.

NeuroTrax, a manufacturer of the Web-based cognitive testing system called Mindstreams, has completed a Series B investment round. The Newark, N.J.-based company has raised more than $1.5 million from New Jersey Economic Development Authority and private sources.

Buyout Deals

British buyout shop 3i Group plc agreed to buy U.K. testing and inspection services group Inspicio plc, valuing the company at about £310 million ($626 million), including debt and options. reported that the offer represents a premium of 33 percent to Inspicio’s average closing price of 168.5 pence per share for the six months before the company first said it had received an offer in October.

PE-Backed IPOs

Applied Precision Inc., an Issaquah, Wash.-based manufacturer of equipment for the semiconductor and life sciences industries, withdrew its initial public offering and said it has elected to pursue an alternative transaction. It also agreed to sell the assets of its semiconductor business to Rudolph Technologies Inc. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Prometheus Laboratories Inc., a San Diego-based pharmaceutical company, has filed an initial public offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission. VentureWire also reported that Prometheus plans to sell up to $100 million in common stock. Details about the number of shares offered and estimated price range for the IPO were not disclosed. According to the SEC filing, DLJ Merchant Banking Partners III LP holds a 21.4 percent pre-IPO stake in Prometheus, Split Rock Partners LLC holds a 17.4 percent stake, New Leaf Ventures holds 12.5 percent, Apax Partners and Wachovia Capital Partners both hold 11 percent, and Brentwood Venture Capital has a 7.5 percent stake.

Verso Paper Corp., a Memphis, Tenn.-based producer of coated papers, registered its initial public offering plans with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All of the shares being offered will be sold by Verso Paper, which is owned by Apollo Management LP.

PE-Backed M&A

Centre Partners Management LLC, a mid-market private equity firm based in New York, has completed the acquisition of Liberty Waste Services LLC in partnership with members of Liberty’s senior management team and Centre Environmental Partners Inc., an affiliate of Centre Partners led by environmental services industry veterans Ross M. Patten and Scott Bernstein. Liberty, which has been renamed Environmental Logistics Services LLC , provides solid waste transportation and disposal services for customers throughout the Northeast and Midwest.

Puget Energy Inc.’s (NYSE: PSD) Puget Sound Energy unit and a consortium of North American infrastructure investors filed an application with Washington state’s utilities and transportation commission seeking approval for a proposed merger. In October, Puget Sound Energy agreed to be taken private through a $7.4 billion merger. The buying consortium includes Alberta Investment Management, British Columbia Investment Management Corp., the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Macquarie Bank Ltd., Macquarie-FSS Infrastructure Trust and Macquarie Infrastructure Partners.

Firms & Funds

Energy Spectrum Capital plans to wrap up its newest fund this week with about $600 million, hitting the partnership’s hard cap, said Jim Benson, a managing partner with the firm. About 37 limited partners, including 20 first-timers, have signed on to the fund, known as Energy Spectrum Partners V LP, Benson told LBO Wire in an email. Dallas-based Energy Spectrum didn’t use a placement agent.

Gerson Lehrman Group, has reached a definitive agreement to accept an investment from Silver Lake, an investment firm focused on large scale investments in technology, technology-enabled and related growth industries. Silver Lake will make a capital investment of approximately $200 million in GLG. Additional terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to close in January.

Fairborne Energy Trust and Fairborne Energy Ltd. have completed the conversion of the trust into a growth oriented exploration and production company. Fairborne Energy also issued approximately 13.4 million of its shares to Denham Commodity Partners Fund IV LP, a U.S.-based private equity fund advised by Denham Capital Management LP for aggregate proceeds of approximately C$100 million.

Private Advisors LLC, a fund-of-funds manager focusing on buyout funds backing small companies, has collected $150 million so far for its third specialized fund of funds, according to a person familiar with the effort. LBO Wire also reported that the target for Private Advisors Small Company Buyout Fund III LP is $300 million. However, the firm is likely to cut its fundraising short and wrap up the fund of funds early next year at around the $200 million mark as it seeks to shift its fund-raising model to smaller offerings on a more frequent basis, this person said.

Human Resources

Lux Capital Management, a New York-based venture capital firm, has named David Sinclair a partner. Sinclair is a co-founder of both Sirtris Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: SIRT) and Genocea Biosciences.

Avid Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: AVID) has named Gary Greenfield chairman and chief executive officer to succeed Nancy Hawthorne, who has served as interim CEO since Aug. 1. Hawthorne assumes the role of lead director for the Tewksbury, Mass.-based company. Greenfield serves as CEO of GXS, a provider of business-to-business integration, synchronization and collaboration solutions, as well as an operating partner with Francisco Partners, a technology-focused private equity firm.

Lawrence Golub, president of Golub Capital, Jeffrey S. Halis, president of private equity firm Tyndall Management, and John Levin, president of asset management company Levin Capital Strategies, were confirmed by the New York State Senate as private members of the New York State Financial Control Board. The control board has powers and responsibilities of review and oversight with respect to the financial management of the New York City government and certain related public authorities