peHUB Wire: Monday, August 9, 2010

Each summer, advertising firm Deutsch Inc. has dozens of interns scurrying around its Manhattan offices. Most are in their early 20s, unpaid and (so far) relatively unaccomplished. But two years ago, the group also included a 34 year-old whose bank account might rival that of firm boss Donny Deutsch.

That intern was Steve Nash, the future basketball Hall of Famer who still slings passes for the Phoenix Suns. His boss that summer was Mike Duda, Deutsch’s chief strategy officer (and occasional peHUB contributor). The pair kept in touch after the internship ended — including work on an annual charity event — and late last year began discussing the creation of a new type of firm: One that would meld brand consulting with venture capital.

The result is Consigliere, a New York-based group that has been meeting with potential investors and partners for the past several months (it also was the answer to a recent bli! nd item).

“There are a lot of guys who finish playing and then have no idea what to do with themselves,” Nash told me during a recent phone call. “I’m not done yet but, when I am, I do not want to become one of them.”

Consigliere plans to invest in seed-stage, consumer-oriented companies with “scalable, large-growth brand potential.” It also will do select Series A and Series B deals, and occasionally sign on as a strategic partner (i.e., the consulting piece) for larger transactions. Those latter deals are designed, in part, to help forge partnerships with large brands that can help out Consigliere’s younger investments.

Here is how the firm explains its strategy, from some marketing materials:

We will invest in consumer sectors such as ecommerce, sports, durables and performance categories. Our marketing consultancy prowess can exist in tandem with investments or as stand-alone engagements derived from relationships with innovation-seeking established brands or financial institutions who might purchase them. In essence, our marketing consultancy provides us with a “sharper blade” approach in making more knowledgeable investments with the fund.

“A lot of VC firms are extremely good at identifying the next great technology or entrepreneur, but don’t necessarily have great networks when it comes to building brand for consumer-focused startups,” Duda explains. “That’s what we’re offering, and really plan to be a partner to the VC community rather than just a new competitor.”

Duda is slowly transitioning out of Deutsche, but on very amicable terms. We hear that a lot, but there seems to be some actual evidence in this case: Donny Deutsch is among the expected investors in Consigliere’s debut fund, which is targeting $20 million…

Top Three

Skype, a Luxembourg-based online communication platform, has filed for a $100 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq, with Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan serving as co-lead underwriters. Last November, eBay sold a 65% stake in Skype for $1.9 billion, to an investor group that included Silver Lake Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB). For the six months ending June 30, 2009, the company reports $41 million in net income on $551 million in revenue.

First Reserve and Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE: ANR) reportedly are considering a $2.75 billion buyout bid for Australia’s Whitehaven Coal (AX: WHC).

Solazyme Inc., a South San Francisco, Calif.-based developer of biofuels through the us! e of microalgae, has raised $52 million in Series D funding. Morgan Stanley and return backerBraemar Energy Ventures co-led the round, and were joined by insiders Lightspeed Venture Partners, The Roda Group, Harris and Harris Group, VantagePoint Venture Partners, Zygote Ventures, CTTV Investmentsand San-Ei Gen. The company previously raised over $76 million.

VC Deals

MedNetworks Inc., a Newton, Mass.-based provider of technology for analyzing real-life social networks of physicians and patients, has raised $5 million in Series A funding from Excel Venture Management.

My Damn Channel, a New York-based online entertainment studio, has raised $4.4 million in Series B funding. Intuitive Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by return backers Okapi Venture Capital and Sunshine Wireless Company.

Attero, a Noida, India-based developer of an e-waste recycling facility, has raised $3.3 million in Series B funding. Granite Hill India Opportunities Fund led the round, and was joined by return backers IndoUS Ventures and Draper Fisher Jurvetson. The company previously raised $6.3 milli! on.

Basho Technologies Inc., a Cambridge, Mass.-based provider of distributed data store solutions, has raised $2 million in Series C funding from undisclosed angel investors.

BringMeTheNews, a Minneapolis-based online news producer and aggregator, has raised $1 million from The Dolan Co. and Padilla Speer Beardsley.

Buyouts Deals

China Media Capital has agreed to acquire control stakes in three China television channels from News Corp. No financial terms were disclosed. CMC is backed by Shanghai Media Group, China Development Bank and China Broadband Capital.

CVC Capital Partners has agreed to acquire a 26% stake in Spanish infrastructure group Abertis from ACS (Madrid: ACS), for approximately €3 billion.

PE-Backed IPOs

Demand Media, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based provider of distributed social media, has filed for a $125 million IPO. It plans to trade on the, with Goldman Sachs, Allen & Co. and Morgan Stanley serving as co-lead underwriters. The company has raised nearly $400 million in VC funding, from Goldman Sachs, Generation Capital Partners, Oak Investment Partners, Spectrum Equity Investors and 3i Group (whose shares are now held by W Capital Partners).

Panther Expedited Services, a freight transportation company backed by Fenway Partners, has filed for a $100 million IPO.

Yashili Group Co Ltd., a Chinese infant baby food maker, reportedly plans to go public later this year. The Carlyle Group owns a 17.3% stake.

PE-Backed M&A

The Egyptian Refining Co., a portfolio company of Citadel Capital, has secured $2.6 billion in financing for a refinery project in the Cairo area.

Green Sky Energy, a UK energy management group, has acquired a pair of energy management systems businesses from DWEC Group. No financial terms were disclosed. Green Sky raised £10 million earlier this year from LDC.

Wyle Inc., a portfolio company of Court Square Capital, has agreed to buy CAS Inc., a Huntsville, Ala.-based provider of systems engineering and technical assistance services to the U.S. Department of Defense. The seller is ITT Corp. (NYSE: ITT). No financial terms were disclosed.

PE Exits

3i Group is planning to sell a pair of German portfolio companies: Norma Group, a maker of metal and plastic engineered joining products, that it hopes will go for more than €800 million; and engine maker Motoren-Werke Mannheim, which could garner €500 million.

Allied World Assurance Holdings Ltd. (NYSE: AWH) has bought back $250 million worth of stock from GS Capital Partners and other Goldman Sachs funds.

Firms & Funds

Gobi Partners and Singapore’s Media Development Authority have formed a $74 million VC fund focused on digital media and IT startups in China and Singapore.