peHUB Wire: Thursday, August 20, 2009

In the panoply of scumbaggery, there’s a special place reserved for four Chicago-area cemetery workers indicted earlier this month for digging upbodies in order to resell their grave-plots.

The case has captivated and horrified the Midwest, and received national attention when it wasbelievedthat the desecrated corpses may have included that of civil rights-era lynching victim Emmett Till (his grave was not actually disturbed, but his original casket was found surrounded by garbage in a storage room).

What has been largely overlooked, however, is that the cemetery is managed by a company whose investors include at least two private equity firms: Pacesetter Capital Group (Richardson, Texas) and Milestone Growth Fund (Minneapolis). And you thought your portfolio had problems…

Both ! firms focus on small-cap, minority-owned businesses, and have received funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration. (Our database also includes investments from Opportunity Capital Partners and Banc of America Capital Investors, but it’s unclear if either are still shareholders.)

Pacesetter and Milestone’s joint portfolio company is Perpetua Holdings, a Tuscan, Ariz.-based outfit whose phone number and website have been disabled. According to Milestone’s website, however, Perpetua is a “national funeral home and cemetery acquisition/development company.”

Perpetua’s CEO is Melvin Bryant, a former Charter Communications executive who currently serves as an operating partner with Pacesetter Capital. Directors include Felix Villaba,vice president and CFO of Pacesetter Capital, and Judy Romlin, an executive vice president with Milestone Growth Fund.

Bryant has been named as a defendant in at least two civil lawsuits, including one in which Pacesetter! is also named. Perpetua and its affiliates also are named in both sui ts, but Milestone is completely absent (as are any other investors). I spoke briefly with a couple of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, who said that they had not yet heard of Milestone (cases are still in their discovery phases). Don’t be stunned to see an amended defendant’s roster, although Pacesetter seems to be the shareholder with the most managerial pull.

I’ve put in calls to both Pacesetter Capital and Milestone Growth, but so far have only heard back from a Pacesetter spokesman who was unable to provide any info by press-time. We’ve posted one of the lawsuits here.

*** Before going on CNBC yesterday to discuss IPOs, I asked our data folks to run some aftermarket performance numbers. It was my sense that the typical 2009 IPO had performed well since pricing (and my certainty that most of them priced at the upper ends of their ranges), but I felt it best to be! safe.

Through market close Tuesday (a very poor trading day), the average IPO’d company was trading 23.1% higher than its initial offering price. This includes all 18 offerings that priced on U.S. exchanges, including foreign issuers like Avago.

Venture-backed offerings did even better, trading at 38.1% above their initial offering price. This includes a negative figure for LogMeIn, which has quietly sunk since its first-day pop.

You can download the data run here.

*** Reminder: It’s great that so many of you use our anonymous tip button to pass on information. BUT, please remember that it truly is anonymous, which means that I cannot respond if you use the button to submit questions. You’ve got my email address (just hit reply), so please sen! d all querying correspondence via that method. For the rest of you, ke ep those dimes a’ dropping.

Top Three

The FDIC will vote next Wednesday on its proposed rules governing private equity investments in banks. Some modifications are expected.

Fortinet Inc., a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based network security provider, has acquired certain assets and IP of Woven Systems, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based developer of 10 gigabit Ethernet fabric solutions. No financial terms were disclosed. Fortinet is in registration for a $100 million IPO, and has raised around $83 million in VC funding since 2002, from firms like Redpoint Ventures (15.5%) and Meritech Capital Partners (10.9%), Acorn Campus Ventures, DCM, Defta Partners and WI Harper Group. Woven Systems raised $35 million from Mohr Davidow Ventures, Goldman Sachs and Palomar Ventures.

Richard Baker, former CEO of UK pharmacy chain Alliance Boots, has joined Advent International as an operating partner.

VC Deals

Coherex Medical Inc., a Salt Lake City-based developer of medical devices that can help close certain heart defects, has raised $16.5 million in Series B funding. Return backers Oxford Bioscience Partners and vSpring Capital co-led the round, with Tullis Health Investors also participating.

Ubidyne, a provider of digital radio technology for the wireless industry, has raised $14.4 million in Series C funding. GIMV led the round, and was joined by return backers Baytech Venture Capital, Doughty Hanson and TVM Capital. Past backer Accel Partners was not mentioned in the press release, although Ubidyne is still listed as a portfolio company on the Accel website. Ubidyne has offices in Germany and Tempe, Arizona.

Plextronics Inc., a Pittsburgh-based developer of active-layer technology for printed electronic devices, has raised $12 million in new VC funding from existing shareholder The Solvay Group (NYSE Euronext: SOLB.BE). It previously raised around $44 million,from Solvay, Firelake Capital, Birchmere Ventures, Draper Triangle Ventures and Newlin Investment Company.

Union Springs Pharmaceuticals, a Union, Ky.-based developer of germ defense products for first responders, has raised $5 million in additional Series A funding. Backers include Blue Chip Venture Co.

29 Luxury Goods Inc., an Atlanta-based spa operator and provider of! cosmetics and skin care products, has raised $1.4 million in VC fundi ng led by Williams Venture Partners.

Southwest Windpower Inc., a Flagstaff, Ariz.-based maker of residential-scale wind generators, has raised an undisclosed amount of fourth-round funding. PCG Clean Energy and Technology Fund was joined by return backers Altira, GE Energy Financial Services, NGP Energy Technology Partners and Rockport Capital Partners. Southwest Windpower previously raised around $28 million, including a $10 million infusion this past spring.

Buyouts Deals

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), Spain’s second-largest bank, is expected to win the FDIC-managed auction for troubled Texas lender Guaranty Financial Group. The process reportedly has included a bid from a private equity consortium that includes Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group, Oak Hill Capital and TPG Capital.

Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC) has hired Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse to manage an auction for TASC, a unit that advises government military agencies. The sale is expected to generate upwards of $2 billion.

Silverfleet Capital has completed its acquisition of German sau! sage casings maker Kalle Nalo from Montagu Private Equity, for €212.5 million.

Scripps Networks Interactive and NBC Universal reportedly are among the bidders for Travel Channel, which owner Cox Enterprises is expecting to fetch between $600 million and $700 million. No private equity firms appear to be among the network’s suitors.

PE Exits

Bayer CropScience has agreed to acquire Athenix Inc., a Research Triangle Park, N.C.-based developer of products and technologies for agricultural and industrial applications like biofuels. No financial terms were disclosed. Athenix has raised more than $40 million in VC funding, from firms like Hunt Ventures, Intersouth Partners and Polaris Venture Partners.

Mekong Capital has sold its stake in Tan Dai Hung, a Vietnamese maker of polypropylene and polyethylene woven bags for food packaging, via the public markets.

Montagu Private Equity has retained NM Rothschild to help it sell Survitec, a UK-based safety equipment manufacturer.

Firms & Funds

American Capital Ltd. (Nasdaq: ACAS) has filed for a $1.5 billion mixed-shelf offering.

Human Resources

Ernst & Young has named John Harley as its global private equity leader. He has been with the firm since 2000.

James Lockhart has agreed to join WL Ross & Co. as vice chairman, effective next month. He recently resigned as head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Carol Womack has joined Diversified Trust Co. as a principal in the firm’s Nashville office. She previously was managing director of private markets for Vanderbilt University’s endowment.