peHUB Wire: Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bunch of buzz this morning about an FT story that The Carlyle Group is reconsidering its IPO prospects. Actually, more of the buzz might have to do with Carlyle’s denial when asked for comment by one of my Reuters colleagues. In an emailed statement, a spokesman wrote: “Carlyle has no plans to go public and if we ever do go public, it will be a long way off.”

A couple quick thoughts: (1) Carlyle has been tacitly considering going public for at least three years. In fact, I distinctly remember David Rubenstein giving a speech in which he compared mega-LBO partnerships to pre-public investment bank partnerships (and I haven’t seen him speak in a long while). So the idea that Carlyle continues to consider an IPO is about as newsworthy as Generalissimo Francisco Franco still being dead.

(2) If Carlyle were to file, the obvious comps would be Blackstone Group and KKR. In reality, however, Carlyle is a very different animal. Blackstone and KKR are both building investment management firms, with private equity as the large cornerstone. Blackstone has hedge fund, fund placement and advisory businesses in place. KKR has its capital markets effort, and wants more (according to its original IPO justification). Carlyle, on the other hand, is just private equity. Its hedge fund efforts crashed and burned, and it’s even pulled away from venture capital. In other words, the reason Carlyle needs cash right now is less obvious (save for brand equity and a recruiting perk).

*** CalPERS got a bunch of press earlier this week when it endorsed the fund term best practices recently published by ILPA. Ummm… Was this a surprise? Isn’t ILPA’s board chaired by Joncarlo Mark, who doubles as CalPERS’ senior portfolio manager for private equity?

*** KKR has restarted its search for an investor relations chief (shareholder-facing, not LP-facing), with Heidrick & Struggles retained to do the looking. This search actually began last year, but got suspended due to KKR’s IPO delays. Now that the firm is scheduled to list in Europe next month and in New York next spring, the pursuit has resumed. The position’s org chart position hasn’t been formalized, but the IR chief will report, at least in part, to public affairs chief Ken Mehlman.

*** Another PE pro goes to DC. This time it’s Jason Tepperman, who has spent the past seven years with Baker Capital. Last month he started work at the U.S. Department of Treasury, in the Office of Financial Stability’s chief investment officer.

*** Joanna posted a Q&A yesterday about a new seed-stage incubator program being launched by ! Tech Coast Angels. Is it too early — or too venture sacriligious — to begin wondering about incubator saturation?

*** eBay has not yet filed its “story of the merger” with the SEC. Baited breath…

*** When Geoff Rennert left Bain Capital 10 years ago, some folks approached him about running for the U.S. Senate on the Republican side. Instead, he helped form Audax Group. I checked in with Geoff yesterday to see if he’s got interest this time around, but the answer was negative. So no Bain vs. ex-Bain in the general…

*** Plug #1: More than 100 tickets have already been sold for our Dallas Shindig, which takes place on October 14. Sponsors are Landmark Partners, New Capital Partners and StaffOne. Ticket proceeds go to a charity that will be selected by event attendees…

*** Plug #2: Agenda and registration info&n bsp;for our Boston cleantech evening, taking place on October 27 at Bingham McCutchen. Topic is making sense of Washington’s cleantech funding and regulatory environment.

Top Three

Eastman Kodak Co. (NYSE: EK) is planning to raise up to $700 million, including a commitment from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. to buy up to $400 million of senior secured notes and warrants.

Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis have sued current Skype owner eBay and an investor consortium that recently agreed to acquire a majority stake in the VoIP provider. The founders argue that Skype is using their technology without authorization.

Twitter, the micro-messaging service, is raising around $50 million at a $1 billion valuation, according to TechCrunch. Insight Venture Partners reportedly is a new investor. The company previously raised around $55 million from firms like Benchmark Capital, Bezos Expeditions, Institutional Venture Partners, Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures.

VC Deals

Seaside Therapeutics LLC, a Cambridge, Mass.-based drug startup focused on autism and Fragile X syndrome, has raised $30 million from an undisclosed family investment firm.

Juvaris BioTherapeutics Inc., a Pleasanton, Calif.-based developer of vaccines for cancer and infectious diseases, has raised $25 million in the first close of a Series B round. SV Life Sciences led the round, and was joined by return backer Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Accept, a Fremont, Calif.-based provider of on-demand software for idea management, portfolio management and requirements management, has raised $17 million in Series B funding. StarVest Partners led the round, and was joined by return backers Jeffer! son Partners and The Entrepreneurs Fund.

Zoove, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based provider of an abbreviated dialing mobile direct response marketing service, has raised $13 million in Series C funding. Return backers include Highland Capital Partners, Worldview Technology Partners and Cardinal Capital Partners. The company previously raised around $23 million.

PharmAbcine, a South Korea-based developer of monoclonal antibodiesfor the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases, has raised $6 million in Series A funding. OrbiMed’s Caduceus Asia Partners and Novartis Korea Venture Fund co-ledthe round, and were joined by Green Cross, Tong Yang and Saehan Venture Fund.

Alliance Health Network! s Inc., a Salt Lake City-based provider of tools and platforms for health-related social networks, has raised $3.3 million in Series C funding. Highway 12 Ventures led the round, and was joined by return backer EPIC Ventures. The company has now raised $6.6 million.

Mocapay, a Denver-based mobile commerce platform, has raised $3 million in VC funding. Spartan Mobile led the round, and was joined by Lacuna Venture Fund.

Virtual Ports Ltd., an Israel-based developer of endoscopic surgery tools, has raised $2.6 million in new VC funding. Backers include Virginia Life Science Investments and Skywalker Ventures.

Authentic Response Inc., a New York-based provider of online consumer and B2B sampling and data collection, ! has raised around $2.07 million Series A funding led by Sutter Hill Ventures (the dollar amount was disclosed in a regulatory filing). The company also announced that Jim Follett, former CEO of Survey Sampling International, will take over as CEO. He succeeds interim CEO Matt Blumberg of Return Path,from which Authentic Response spun out last year.

Buyouts Deals

Beacon E&P Co., a Denver-based oil and natural gas company, has received a $150 million equity commitment from Kayne Anderson Energy Funds, BAML Capital Partners, company management and others.

Golden Gate Capital has acquired the enterprise management solutions IT unit of CH2M Hill, for an undisclosed amount. The resulting company will be named Critigen, and will maintain a three-year preferred provider agreement with CH2M Hill.

Nexar Capital Group has launched as an investment management firm founded by former hedge fund execs at Société Générale. It is being sponsored by an undisclosed amount of funding from Aquiline Capital Partners.

PE-Backed IPOs

Echo Global Logistics Inc., a Chicago-based, has set its IPO terms to 5.7 million common shares being offered at between $13 and $15 per share. It would have an initial market cap of approximately $322 million, were it to price atop its range. The company plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol ECHO, with Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse. New Enterprise Associates holds a 15.3% ownership stake.

Ladder Capital Finance, a New York-based specialty finance company focused on the commercial real estate industry, has set its IPO terms to 20 million shares being offered at $20 per share.The companywas formed last last year with approximately $1 billion in equity and debt capital, co-led by GI Partners and Towerbrook Capital Partners. It plans to trade on the NYSE under ticker symbol LCG, with JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and Citi serving as co-lead underwriters.

Omeros Corp., a Seattle-based drug company focused on receptor and enzyme therapeutics, has set its IPO terms to 6.82 million common shares being offered at between $10 and $12 per share. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol OMER, with Deutsche Bank Securities serving as lead underwriter. The company originally filed for its IPO in January 2008, and would have a market cap of approximately $255 million if it prices atop its range. The company has raised approximately $110 million in total VC funding, from firms like ARCH Venture Partners, Aravis Ventures, American Financial Group, Grosvenor Funds, Novartis Venture Fund, Southern Cross Capital, Stanley Medical Research Institute, Trevi Health Ventures and WRF Capital.

PE Exits

American Capital has sold Axygen BioScience Inc. to Corning Inc. for approximately $400 million. Axygen was acquired by American Capital in 2006, and is a Union City, Calif.–based distributor of life sciences plastic consumables, liquid handling products and bench-top laboratory equipment.

Myriad Group AG (SIX: MYRN) has acquired Xumii, a San Mateo, Calif.-based provider of mobile social networking services. No financial terms were disclosed. Xumii has raised over $6 million in VC funding from Southern Cross Venture Partners and Coates Myer & Co.

Firms & Funds

Banco Bradesco of Brazil and Banco Espírito Santo of Portugal have formed 2bCapital, a new private equity fund manager that will operate in Brazil. Each bank will provide R$50 million for 2bCapital’s debt fund, which will target R$500 million (US$277m).

MIT said that its endowment shrank 20.7% in the past fiscal year (ending June 30), down to $8 billion from $10.1 billion.

Human Resources

Stephen Gaines has stepped down as managing director and head of U.S. corporate finance for KPMG, according to an email he sent yesterday to friends and colleagues. Gaines had joined KPMG in 1993, and took over the corporate finance group in June 2001.

Jim Lindner has joined Norwest Equity Partners as an operating partner, focus a focus on the technology and business services sectors. He is the current chairman and former CEO of NEP portfolio company Mitchell International, a San Diego-based provider of information services, software and ebusiness solutions for the automotive and workers’ compensation insurance claims processing industry.

Lawrence Portman has joined Rothschild as a managing director and head of consumer products for the Americas. He previously was head of Citigroup’s North American food and beverage practice.

Rodney Tsang has joined Citigroup as co-head of its China investment banking group. He previously was head of China private sector coverage for BoA Merrill Lynch.