PE Week Wire: Tues., Feb. 20, 2007

As many of you have probably heard by now, venture capitalist Todd Brooks died last Thursday night from an apparent suicide attempt. He was 46 years old, and leaves behind wife Marilee and three young children.

An online forum has been set up for friends and colleagues to communicate with – and to help — the Brooks family during this difficult time. The site also is expected to provide memorial service information, once it has been finalized. People also have been leaving memories of Todd in this comment section on peHUB, and I’ll forward them on to the family soon (or at least most of them – more on that down below).

Brooks began his career as a senior equity research analyst with Franklin Templeton Funds, where he covered the communications equipment sector. He then moved on to JAFCO America Ventures (since renamed Globespan Venture Partners),to serve as a managing principal and back such companies as Brocade Communications.

Brooks later joined Mayfield Fund in 1998, before leaving in 2003 due to “differences in investment philosophy and over the direction of the firm.”

Two years later, Brooks teamed up with fellow ex-Mayfielder Peter Levine to form a new VC shop tentatively named BLX Partners. They set out to raise a $200 million fund, and were well on their way until Levine unexpectedly pulled out to accept a CEO role with open-source startup Xensource.

At the time, Brooks said: “I remain passionate and focused on the fund formation process and continue my discussions with several potential investment professionals who have been under consideration as team members throughout the fund-raising process.”

As of last August, he was reported to have been doing some informal recruiting, and also to have discussed some sort of partnership arrangement with Worldview co-founder James Wei. We had not reported on his activities since.

According to the Marin County Coroner’s Office, Brookswas witnessed jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge on Thursday night, but he was not discovered until Friday afternoon.

News of Brooks’ passing has been met with both shock and sadness by former friends and colleagues.BitGravity CEOPerry Wu wrotein a mass email on Saturday that Brooks was a “terrific friend to many of us,” but that most were unaware that he had “long suffered from depression.”

On a personal note: I met Todd only once in passing at an industry event, but had spoken to him about half a dozen time in the course of my work (part of which included covering his departure from Mayfield). He was a straight-talker who would take the time to help a layman like me understand the arcane intricacies of his latest optical networking investment. This really is a damn shame.

Let me also emphatically state that this is not an act of cowardice, as some peHUB readers have cruelly suggested in their comments. It was apparently the result of a mental illness, which is very real and has debilitating effects that most of us will thankfully never experience. The notion that someone with severe depression is capable of making “rational” decisions is to reject the science, and to publicly suggest otherwise at this time is to reject common decency.

Men have long been believed to suffer depression at lower rates than do women, but the reality is that they simply have had different symptoms. Sadly, this also is one cause for why men are four times more likely than are women to commit suicide. For more information on men and depression, please read the latest Newsweek cover story. And please keep the Brooks family in your prayers…

Top Three

Euroazeo has agreed to acquire European car park operator APCOA from Investcorp. The deal is expected to close next quarter, and would give APCOA an enterprise value of €885 million. Investcorp acquired APCOA in July 2004 from German utility conglomerate EnBW Group for €250 million.

BPL Global Ltd., a Pittsburgh, Pa.-based provider of “smart grid” technologies and broadband services over power-lines, has raised $26 million in Series C funding. Backers include Morgan Stanley, PA Early Stage, Al-Deera Holdings, International Financial Advisors, International Finance Co. and Kuwait Holding Company.

SV Life Sciences has closed its fourth fund with $572 million in capital commitments. The firm focuses on venture capital opportunities in the life sciences space, and had originally targeted $500 million.

VC Deals

ScanSafe, a London-based provider of Web security-as-a-service solutions, has raised $15 million in Series B funding. Scale Venture Partners led the deal, and was joined by return backer Benchmark Capital.

Sanarus Medical Inc., a Pleasanton, Calif.-based medical device company focused on minimally-invasive diagnosis and treatment of breast tumors, has raised $15 million in Series E funding, according to a regulatory filing. Easton Capital Partners was joined by return backers Alta Partners, Forward Ventures, Channel Medical Partners, Federated Kaufman Fund, Pequot Private Equity and U.S. Venture Partners. The company has now raised around $72 million in total VC funding since its 1999 inception.

ColorChip, an Israel-based maker of glass-based PLC chips and modules for the fiber-to-home market, has raised $7.4 million in new VC funding. Vertex Venture Capital led the deal, and was joined by return backers Bessemer Venture Partners, Eurofund, Motorola Ventures, Polytechnos and Walden Israel.

Fuji Food Products Inc., an Anaheim, Calif.-based manufacturer and distributor of pre-packaged Sushi, has raised $5.8 million in VC funding from Funk Venture Capital Ventures.

Avidence Inc., a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based provider of digital video software for the enterprise, has raised around $5 million in Series A funding, according to a regulatory filing. Backers include ArrowPath Ventures and Red Rock Ventures.

CoFluent Design, a France-based provider of software solutions for architecture exploration and performance analysis, has raised $2.6 million in Series A funding. Emertec Gestion led the deal, and was joined by BNP Paribas Private Equity and UFG Private Equity.

Preclick Corp., a Philadelphia-based provider of digital photo software for companies like Wal-Mart, Cosco and SanDisk, has raised $1.6 million in Series A funding. Backers include LORE Associates, Mid-Atlantic Angel Group, Robin Hood Ventures and SJF Ventures.

AdaptiveBlue, a Livingston, N.J.-based provider of a research and organization plug-in for the Firefox browser, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Union Square Ventures, according to VentureBeat.

MEDirect Latino Inc., a Pompano Beach, Fla.-based distributor of diabetic diagnostic testing supplies and related products, has raised an undisclosed amount of VC funding from Granite Creek Partners.

Buyout Deals

3i Group has made a new bid for UK utilities infrastructure maintenance company Enterprise PLC, after its initial 575 pence-per-share bid was rejected last month. The revised bid is 605 pence per share, which would value Enterprise at approximately £486 million. Various press reports suggest that Enterprise’s board already has accepted the increased offer.

LogicaCMG has sold its Telecom Products business for £265 million in cash to a private equity consortium led by Atlantic Bridge Ventures. The business, to be renamed Acision, provides converged mobile messaging solutions for text and multimedia messaging for 300 network operators and service providers, who serve over 1 billion consumers worldwide. It generated £254.7 million in 2005 revenue. Other buyers include Larry Quinn, former chairman and CEO of Logica Mobile Networks, and Investment & Underwriting.

The Container Store has retained JPMorgan to help it explore strategic alternatives, including a possible company sale. The privately-held storage and organization retailer said that the its primary shareholder — the Boone family – has expressed an interest in selling a large portion of their ownership position. The company’s 2006 sales were nearly $500 million.

Hunt Special Situations Group has completed its acquisition of Castwell Products Inc. from Citation Corp. No financial terms were disclosed. Castwell is a Skokie, Ill.-based ductile and gray iron foundry, specializing in the production of precision castings encompassing a broad array of alloy and dimensional tolerances.

The Stephens Group has sponsored a partial recapitalization of Spitzer Industries Inc., a Houston, Texas–based custom fabricator for oil and gas production equipment, structural weldment fabrication and ASME Code pressure vessel fabrication. No financial terms were disclosed.

Compass Partners has acquired the bankrupt assets of USA Commercial Mortgage Co.’s (USACM) First Trust Deed Fund for $67 million.

PE-Backed M&A

Argos Utilities Corp., a Bethesda, Md.-based provider of transmission and distribution services to utility customers, has completed its acquisition of Contracting Enterprises Inc., a Roanoke, Va.-based provider of utility construction services to electric and gas utilities in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee. Cadent Energy Partners provided equity to support the acquisition, while a senior note facility came from Orix Leveraged Finance.

PE Exits

LSI Logic Corp. (NYSE: LSI) has agreed to acquire SiliconStor Inc., a Fremont, Calif.-based provider of silicon solutions for enterprise storage. The deal is valued at around $55 million in cash, and is expected to close later this quarter. SiliconStor has raised over $17 million in VC funding from firms like APV Technology Partners and VSP Capital.

SunGard has acquired Aceva Technologies, a San Mateo, Calif.-based provider of enterprise applications for revenue and receivables management. No financial terms were disclosed. SunGard was acquired in 2005 by seven private equity firms, while Aceva had raised over $50 million in VC funding since its 1999 inception, from firms like Sequoia Capital, Accel Partners and Clearstone Venture Partners.

Nordic Partners has agreed to sell Denmark-based Dangaard Telecom AS to Brightpoint Inc. (Nasdaq: CELL) for approximately $300 million in Brightpoint stock. The total deal is valued at around $600 million, including $300 million in assumed debt and the 30 million Brightpoint shares.

Doughty Hanson & Co. Real Estate has sold Maximilianhöfe, a flagship property on Munich’s Maximilianstrasse, for €270 million to Quinlan Private. The site was cleared and redeveloped into 20,000 square metres of office space, retail space and a build-to-suit rehearsal stage facility for the State Opera.

Firms & Funds

Bear Stearns has expanded its private funds group via the acquisition of Crane Capital Associates’ fund placement business. The enlarged group will be co-led by London-based Leo van den Thillart, formerly senior managing partner of Crane Capital, and New York-basedPaul Sanabria, a senior managing director of Bear Stearns Asset Management. No financial terms of the acquisition were disclosed.

New Enterprise Associates has opened an office in Mumbai, India – as part of its plan to invest up to $200 million into Indian technology companies. The office will be lead by vice president Ben Matthias, who joined the firm last year after having been a vice president with supply chain software startup E2open.

Partners Group has acquired the discretionary real estate asset management unit of Pension Consulting Alliance. No financial terms were disclosed.

Milestone Capital Management, a Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm, has changed its name to Blackstreet Capital Management. This is considered the final step in the firm’s separation from Milestone Merchant Partners, which was initiated in January 2005. The firm also has relocated to Bethesda, Maryland.

The Teachers’ Retirement System of Illinois has made the following fund commitments: $100 million to Leonard Green Equity Investors V; $100 million to Silver Lake Partners III; $50 million to Carlyle Venture Partners III; $50 million to Lehman Brothers Merchant Banking Partners IV; and $25 million to Providence Equity Partners VI (in addition to earlier $100m commitment).

Adam Chinn has agreed to join startup M&A advisory boutique Centerview Partners, according to VentureWire. He currently is a partner with law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

Human Resources

Elka Nir has joined Giza Venture Capital as a managing director in charge of the firm’s life sciences practice. She previously served as COO and development & operations manager of Biosense Webster, a J&J subsidiary.

Steve Swad reportedly has resigned as CFO of AOL, in order to join a private equity firm. An Associated Press report on the matter does not specify the firm, but says that he will remain at AOL until a replacement is found.

Morgenthaler Partners has promoted Karen Tuleta to partner. She oversees the firm’s capital markets group, and has been the Morgenthaler for 12 years.

Francis deSouza, founder of IMlogic, and MIT microbiology professor Anthony Sinskey have joined the advisory board of Kodiak Venture Partners.