PE Week Wire: Tues., Feb. 26, 2008

Greetings from Beaver Creek, where fresh powder just keeps falling. Yeah, I know, this really can be a thankless job…

No column this morning (spent most of yesterday on a plane), but I’ve gained my Mountain Time bearings (“4:30am wakeup call please”), and should have a bunch of scoopiness for tomorrow. I’ll also do some peHUB posting today (in between runs, of course), and should be getting some posts from my EVCJ colleagues out at Super Return in Munich. So far, the only news seems to be that Apollo’s Leon Black doesn’t think the market is distressed enough yet for distressed investing,.

Anyways, happy news reading, after a brief word from our sponsor:

Top Three

Axcelis Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: ACLS) has rejected an unsolicited $544 million buyout offer from TPG Capital and Sumitomo Heavy Industries. The $5.20 per share offer represented a 29% premium to the pre-bid closing price, but Axcelis says that it undervalues the company. Axcelis makes ion implantation devices for chip makers.

Novell has agreed to acquire PlateSpin Ltd., a Toronto-based server virtualization company, for $205 million in cash. PlateSpin had raised around $17 million in VC funding since 2001, from firms like Insight Capital Partners, Intel Capital, CastleHill Ventures, Raza Venture Fund and VentureLink Holdings.

First Nations Capital Partners has been formed as a $25 million private equity fund by Wells Fargo Community Development Corp., the Colusa Indian Tribe and the Rincon Indian Tribe. It is the first U.S. private equity fund with tribal governments as its primary investors, owners and managers.

VC Deals

Adconion Media Group, a Germany-based online advertising network, has raised €40.9 million (US$80m) in Series C funding. Index Ventures led the round, and was joined by return backer Wellington Partners.

Vaccinex Inc., a Rochester, N.Y.-based developer of antibodies, has raised $25 million in Series B-2 funding, according to VentureWire. Teva Pharmaceuticals and Pan Atlantic Bank & Trust co-led the round, and were joined by return backers like Biocon and Toronto Investment Group.

Wisair Ltd., a Tel Aviv-based provider of ultra wideband and wireless ultra wideband solutions, has raised $24 million in Series D funding. Susquehanna Growth Equity led the round, and was joined by Advent Venture Partners, Bridge Capital Fund and Yasuda Ventures. Return backers included Apax Partners, Broadcom, Intel Capital, Vertex Management and the Zisapel brothers. The company had previously raised around $45 million.

Keybroker, a Sweden-based provider of search advertising solutions for the European market, has raised €5 million from Investor Growth Capital.

Portico Systems Inc., a Blue Bell, Pa.-based provider of software solutions for health insurance plans, has raised $7.7 million in new VC funding. Edison Venture Fund led the round with $4.9 million, and was joined by return backer Safeguard Scientifics.

SellPoint Inc., a Pleasanton, Calif.-based provider of on-demand video product tours, has raised $7 million in Series C funding. Granite Ventures led the round, and was joined by return backer Menlo Ventures.

Outbrain, a New York-based, has raised $5 million in Series A funding. Gemini Israel Funds and Lightspeed Venture Partners co-led the round, and were joined by seed backer GlenRock Israel.

FriendFeed Inc., a Mountain View, Calif.-based social networking site focused on content sharing, has raised $5 million in Series A funding. Benchmark Capital led the round, and was joined by company co-founders Paul Buchheit and Sanjeev Singh.

Proficiency Inc., a Marlborough, Mass.-based provider of OEM and supplier product data integration, has raised $4.25 million in new VC funding. Catalyst Investment led the round, and was joined by return backers Carmel Ventures and Pitango Venture Capital. The company has now raised nearly $60 million in total VC funding since its 1998 inception.

Bluenog, a Piscataway, N.J.-based developer of application infrastructure software, has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by NewSpring Ventures.

Morpho Inc., a Japanese provider of imaging software for mobile devices, has raised $1.53 million from Nokia Growth Partners. The company was formed in 2004, and recently announced an investment from NTT DoCoMo.

Buyout Deals

The Gores Group and Aquest Systems Corp. sent a letter expressing interest in acquiring Asyst Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: ASYT), a provider of automation technology for makers of semiconductors and flat panel displays. The letter suggests a buyout offer of between $5 and $6 per share, which could value Asyst at nearly $300 million – and sent the company’s shares up 13.7% to $14.4 per share. Gores is a private equity firm, while Aquest is a VC-backed provider of semiconductor equipment that has raised around $22 million from Global Catalyst Partners, Menlo Ventures and Walden International.

The Gores Group has agreed to invest up to $100 million in broadcast content producer Westwood One Inc. (NYSE: WON). The deal is subject to the closing of a deal between Westwood One and CBS Radio, whereby Westwood would pay CBS to broadcast its 150 programs through 2017.

KRG Capital Partners of Denver has acquired a control position in Universal Ensco Inc. and Pegasus International Inc., providers of engineering and project management solutions related to the onshore and offshore oil and gas industry. No equity terms were disclosed, but the deal did include a $225 million senior credit facility from RBS Greenwich Capital (lead), BMO Capital Markets, CIT Group and FirstLight Financial Corp. It also included $71 million in mezzanine financing co-led by Lehman Brothers Global Mezzanine Partners and PennantPark Investment Corp.

Sun Capital Partners has acquired the wet friction and aftermarket business of Raytech Corp., which makes friction and energy absorption components for wet transmission and brake systems. No financial terms were disclosed.

TPG Capital has completed its $1.3 billion take-private buyout of Axcan Pharma Inc., a Canadian-based developer of drugs for gastrointestinal disorders. Axcan stockholders received $23.35 per share, and the company’s stock ceased trading on the TSX and Nasdaq at close of business yesterday.

PE Exits

Cypress Bioscience Inc. (Nasdaq: CYPB) has agreed to acquire Proprius Pharmaceuticals Inc., a San Diego-based drug developer focused on rheumatology and autoimmune diseases. The deal includes a $37.5 million up-front cash payment, and up to $37.5 million in milestone-related earnouts. Proprius last year raised $11 million in Series A funding, which included an option that could have raised in to $17 million. Backers included Atlas Venture, Forward Ventures, CDIB BioScience Venture Management, Fog City Fund and Windamere Venture Partners.

Firms & Funds

Clarus Ventures has closed its second fund with $660 million in limited partner commitments. The Boston-based VC firm focuses on life sciences opportunities, and spun out of MPM Capital in 2005.

Target Partners, a Munich-based venture capital firm, has held a €61.5 million first close on its second fund. The fund target is €120 million. Limited partners include Morgan Stanley, LGT Capital Partners, Bayerische Beamten Lebensversicherung, RWB RenditeWertBeteiligungen AG and CS Strategic Partners. The firm’s debut fund closed on €112 million in 2000.

Incubation Venture Partners, the VC arm of Incubate Group Corp., has formed a venture capital fund to finance the development of original creative properties like video games, toys, television programs and graphic novels. It’s called the Azcatl Seed Capital Fund, and is capitalized with up to $20 million.

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Teachers’ Private Capital have agreed to each invest $200 million in FountainVest, a new private equity fund focused on China.

TLcom Capital, a London-based venture capital firm, has held a first close for its second fund, in excess of €50 million. The fund target is €150 million, and follows a €138 million debut fund that closed in late 2000. Limited partners include Access Capital Partners, European Investment Fund, IDeA Alternative Investments and Finlombarda Gestioni SGR.

Cambridge Associates has launched a Mission Investing Group for its clients, which will focus on such areas as community development and climate change. It is being advised by members of the “2% for Mission Campaign,” which encourages foundations to invest at least2% of their assets – above and beyond the charitable distributions – in mission-related investments.

Human Resources

Probitas Partners has promoted Adam Frieman to the position of partner, in the firm’s New York office. Prior to joining Probitas, Frieman served as deputy head of U.S. capital markets at UBS.

Frank Chaiken, a partner in Thompson Hine LLP’s Cincinnati office, has been named chair of the firm’s corporate transactions and securities practice.