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Artificial intelligence helps retailers anticipate customer needs

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Retailers are increasingly using artificial intelligence to manage their stores and monitor shopping behavior and offer better experiences, as we discover in the second installment of Mergers & Acquistions’ 7-part series, Retail Tech M&A.

There are 7 technologies retailers are investing in through M&A: The Internet of Things enables enhanced personalization, such as custom drive-thru menus. Artificial intelligence applications predict customers’ needs. Modern data centers and warehouses fill orders quickly. Robots assist with sorting and packing consumer goods. Voice- and text-assisted technology provides customers with hands-free shopping experiences. Analytics give retailers a better understanding of consumer behavior and habits. Mobile payment processing provides consumers with on-the-go convenience.

Check back each Friday for an analysis on each technology.

Here’s our look at AI:

Walmart
Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) is boosting its tech arsenal through acquisitions. Earlier in 2019, the company acquired Israel-based Aspectiva. Aspectiva’s AI analyzes product reviews and combines that analysis with the individual shopper’s browsing behavior to make product suggestions to customers both online and in stores. Consumers rely on product reviews from their peers to help them make purchasing decisions, and retailers are looking for ways to make it fast and easy for customers to search for reviews to provide personalized shopping experiences.

“Aspectiva has developed incredibly sophisticated machine-learning techniques and natural language processing capabilities, both of which are areas we believe will have profound impact on how customers will shop in the future,” Walmart said in a press release.

McDonald’s
McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) is using AI to lure customers. The restaurant chain acquired a 10 percent stake in app developer Plexure. The investment will support Plexure’s growth while giving McDonald’s greater access to technology to help with customer targeting. Plexure already powers McDonald’s global app in 48 countries. Plexure’s software allows companies to engage with consumers on their mobile devices, using offers, loyalty programs and mobile ordering to encourage them to order more often. The deal is McDonald’s first investment in a mobile app vendor. Plexure has agreed not to work with certain rivals of McDonald’s.

Amperity
Amperity, an artificial intelligence-powered customer data management developer, is buying consumer data analytics firm Custora. Amperity, which is backed by Tiger Global Management and Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), uses artificial intelligence to give businesses a 360-degree view of what customers are buying, what they want and how to reach them. Custora offers analytics to retailers. J. Crew, Kenneth Cole and Lucky Brand are some brands that previously used Custora.

“We started Amperity to give brands the data and power needed to unleash their best ideas and unlock tremendous value for the consumer – our mission is singularly focused on helping people use data to serve the customer,” says Amperity CEO Kabir Shahani.

Amazon
Retailers are using M&A to build up their e-commerce channels to compete with Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN). “It’s not just Amazon. It’s the whole world of direct-to-consumer,” says Cathy Leonhardt, a managing director at PJ Solomon investment bank. “Technology is a big piece of it. Retailers are making fundamental changes to their business. You need to know where your inventory is and be transparent to your customers.”

Source: The Latest
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M&A wrap: Taylor Swift, Carlyle, Nike, McDonald’s, Leonard Green, Shorehill, Cerberus

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Mergers & Acquisitions has launched a new weekly 7-part series on retail technology M&A. We’re kicking it off with an in-depth look at how the Internet of Things is transforming retail and how the trend is playing out in dealmaking. Nike (NYSE: NKE) is making acquisitions to enhance its customer experiences. Nike bought Zodiac and Invertex Ltd., a pair of innovative digital startups helping the athletic apparel maker get closer to customers. McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD), the world’s largest restaurant chain, is gobbling up digital startups to improve customer experiences by capitalizing on IoT innovations- a strategy new CEO Chris Kempczinski supports. The company is buying personalization company Dynamic Yield for a reported $300 million in its largest deal in more than 20 years, and will use the software to customize drive-thru menus. Check back every Friday throughout the holiday shopping season for a new installment.

DEAL NEWS
Leonard Green & Partners has invested in WCG, which is already backed by Arsenal Capital Partners. Novo Holdings also invested in the deal. WCG is a clinical trials services provider that helps biopharmeceutical companies accelerate the delivery of new treatments and therapies to patients. Centerview Partners LLC and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP advised WCG. Kirkland & Ellis LLP advised Arsenal. Barclays and Latham & Watkins advised Leonard Green.

Shorehill Capital has bought Triad Technologies, a distributor of industrial fluid power services, from Svoboda Capital. Cowen and Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP advised Triad.

American Industrial Partners-backed ACProducts is buying Masco Cabinetry from Masco Corp. (NYSE: MAS) for $1 billion. Masco owns the Delta faucets and the KraftMaid cabinets brands.

Cerberus Capital Management has acquired a majority stake in used-car dealer Off Lease Only. The target owns four dealerships in Florida.

For more deal news, see Weekly wrap: Anheuser-Busch, Allegro, OpenText.

To see which other firms are fundraising, check out PE fundraising scorecard: Atalaya, Investcorp, Kohlberg, Sage Equity

DEAL TRENDS
HGGC’s deal for Monotype, Shopify’ Inc.’s (NYSE: SHOP) purchase of 6 River Systems and SK Capital’s acquisition of Poylone’s assets are among the transactions highlighted in October. For more, see Key middle-market deals that closed in October.

Taylor Swift accused her former record label of blocking her from performing her old songs at an awards show or using them in an upcoming documentary, escalating a dispute between the pop star and powerful celebrity manager Scooter Braun. The singer-songwriter tweeted an impassioned plea asking U.S. asset management firm Carlyle Group (Nasdaq: CG) and fans to help her in efforts to secure ownership of six albums she previously recorded under Big Machine Label Group LLC. Read the full story by Bloomberg News: Taylor Swift seeks Carlyle’s help in dispute over past hits.

FEATURED CONTENT
Esteemed M&A attorney Martin (“Marty”) Lipton was honored at a black-tie event hosted by the Institute of International Education at The Pierre in New York on Oct. 30. Called the “the king of M&A,” the co-founder of New York law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, is well known to dealmakers as the architect of the anti-takeover defense strategy known as the “poison pill.” Lipton was awarded the IIE Stephen P. Duggan Award for Mutual Understanding “in recognition of his lifetime of extraordinary achievement and his lasting contribution to international higher education. Read the full story: Martin Lipton, inventor of the “poison pill” anti-takeover defense honored by IIE.

It’s a milestone year for the Blackstone Group Inc. (NYSE: BX), which transitioned from a publicly traded partnership to a corporation on July 1. The New York firm announced the final close of its latest global real estate fund recently. With $20.5 billion of total capital commitments, Blackstone Real Estate Partners IX is the largest real estate fund ever raised. Mergers & Acquisitions spoke with Stephen A. Schwarzman, the firm’s co-founder, chairman and CEO. Read the full story: “Complete control” is the beauty of private equity, says Blackstone’s Stephen A. Schwarzman.

The private equity model has held up very well over the decades, continuing to outperform the public markets, even as economic cycles come and go. But the rate of growth has slowed, leading PE firms to seek adjacent areas of business to expand. As PE firms face increased pressure to produce higher returns on their investments, many of them are turning to a familiar area of business: lending. Adams Street Partners, Balance Point Capital, Carlyle and VSS are all actively engaged in lending. Read the full story: Private equity firms are becoming lenders. Here’s why.

Prokanga is a unique recruiting firm that offers full-time and flexible recruiting services. Prokanga is managed by co-founders Jamie Cheney and Lesley Finer (pictured). Mergers & Acquisitions spoke with Finer, who has more than 10 years of recruiting for the finance industry and leads the finance practice at Prokanga. For more, see Why financial services pros need flexibility.

Looking for a glimpse of what’s to come in the private equity industry? Meet Mergers & Acquisitions’ 2019 Rising Stars of Private Equity. As the PE industry undergoes a generational shift, and many firm founders retire, it’s well worth getting to know these emerging leaders, including Branford’s Austin Collier, Sterling Partners’ Shawn Domanic and Summit Partners’ Sophia Popova. For profiles and video interviews, see Meet Mergers & Acquisitions’ 2019 Rising Stars of Private Equity. For Q&As, see 10 Rising Stars of Private Equity tell their tales.

Online retailers, including Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), are adding more fulfillment centers to meet consumer demands for faster shipping times. The owners of these properties along with the contractors that build them are becoming prime M&A targets. More local fulfillment centers means faster delivery times and lower last-mile costs to both retailers and customers. Read the full story: Amazon and Walmart open more logistics centers, driving warehouse M&A.

To celebrate deals, dealmakers and dealmaking firms, Mergers & Acquisitions produces three special reports every year: the M&A Mid-Market Awards; the Rising Stars of Private Equity; and the Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. For more on the timeline and nomination process for each, see Special reports overview: M&A Mid-Market Awards, Rising Stars, Most Influential Women.

EVENTS
Exponent Women is hosting a Family Office Event with Owens Group at LX Gallery in New York on Nov. 21. Mergers & Acquisitions editor-in-chief Mary Kathleen Flynn is moderating a panel.

The Annual Winter Conference AM&AA is taking place in Scottsdale, Arizon fron Jan. 8-10.

Deal Wave is being hosted by ACG Orange Country at the Ritz-Carlton-Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, California on Jan. 9.

Source: The Latest
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Twitter details plan to ban political ads

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After School Shooting, Bill Focuses on Banks and Guns

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A day after two students were killed at a school in Santa Clarita, Calif., Representative Jennifer Wexton, Democrat of Virginia, is planning to introduce a bill in Congress this morning that would require banks and other financial institutions to work with the government to help identify and report suspicious or illegal financial activity related to firearms.

The bill was inspired, in part, by Andrew Ross Sorkin’s columns on the role that banks could play to help end gun violence.

“Banks, credit card companies, and retailers have unique insight into the behavior and purchasing patterns that can help identify and prevent mass shootings,” Ms. Wexton said in a statement. “We know that financial intelligence can be an effective tool to combat gun violence in the same way it is for money laundering, human smuggling, and fentanyl trafficking.”

Here’s how it would work: The bill, called the Gun Violence Prevention Through Financial Intelligence Act, would require the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, to work with financial companies to develop a framework to identify suspicious firearms transactions. The bill says that if FinCEN determines that banks do not have enough data to identify suspicious activity, it “must submit a report to Congress detailing the process and identifying barriers to data collection.”

Andrew Ross Sorkin’s take: “When I first started writing about this issue, my thought was that the private sector might lead the way. Nonetheless, it’s gratifying to see Representative Wexton and nine co-sponsors pursue this. It will be interesting to watch the financial industry’s reaction. Send me your thoughts.”

The former Goldman Sachs C.E.O. Lloyd Blankfein and the billionaire investor Leon Cooperman, both targets of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s new campaign ad about her planned wealth tax, struck back yesterday, Bloomberg News reports.

Ms. Warren’s ad singled out the two men. It referenced, for instance, Mr. Blankfein’s $70 million payday at the height of the financial crisis.

Vilifying the rich is bad for the country, Mr. Blankfein wrote on Twitter.

• “Maybe tribalism is just in her DNA,” he wrote. His comment was seen as a reference to the controversy over Ms. Warren’s taking a genealogy test to prove she’s part Native American. She later apologized to the Cherokee Nation.

“We don’t need another fabricator in the White House,” Mr. Cooperman said on CNBC.

Ms. Warren has recently faced criticism from other Wall Street leaders, including Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, Ray Dalio of Bridgewater and Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone, the FT reports.

How the Democratic candidates view wealth is becoming a central issue in the primary race. “The likes of Blankfein and Cooperman may think that they’re fighting their corner by lashing out at Warren, but they could be miscalculating where the public’s sympathies lie,” according to a separate analysis by the FT’s Due Diligence.

More: Would wealth tax proposals, elegant in theory, work in practice? Tax experts say it’s not that simple.

The company yesterday announced that it planned to officially challenge the Pentagon’s surprise decision last month to award a $10 billion cloud-computing contract to Microsoft, Kate Conger of the NYT writes.

Amazon suggested that political motivations clouded the decision over the contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure project, known as JEDI. Drew Herdener, an Amazon spokesman, said in a statement:

• “It’s critical for our country that the government and its elected leaders administer procurements objectively and in a manner that is free from political influence.”

• “Numerous aspects of the JEDI evaluation process contained clear deficiencies, errors and unmistakable bias — and it’s important that these matters be examined and rectified.”

Amazon had broadly been considered the favorite, as the country’s biggest cloud provider and the builder of the C.I.A.’s cloud services. But President Trump, who has openly criticized Amazon and its C.E.O., Jeff Bezos, said publicly that other “great companies” should have a chance at the contract.

Amazon’s protest should prompt an internal Pentagon review of the procurement decision, Daniel Ives, the managing director of Wedbush Securities, told the NYT. He said it should take 45 to 60 days and would delay the beginning of work by Microsoft. “The decision is likely to be taken to court by the loser, but work should begin on the cloud contract as the court battle plays out,” Ms. Conger adds.

Google announced yesterday that it would limit some of the information it shared with advertisers as a concession to claims made by E.U. officials that the company’s ad auction violated the bloc’s privacy laws, Patience Haggin of the WSJ writes.

• “The changes will affect the process behind the electronic auction that happens in milliseconds to determine which ads show up when users load a website.”

• “In that time, hundreds of potential bidders can find out information about users.”

• “After the changes, which take effect in February, advertisers will still have access to data such as locations and unique device numbers, but no longer the contextual category describing the website on which the ad would appear.”

It sounds like a small change, but the FT reports that it could “stop advertisers from tying sensitive categories — such as religion, politics and sexual orientation — to individual users,” according to Chetna Bindra, a member of Google’s user trust and privacy team.

But it has been criticized as a self-serving decision. “This decision will at least enhance value of first-party data and Google Search is the most dominant place for first-party data, so it will hurt everyone except Google,” Jason Kint, the C.E.O. of Digital Content Next, a U.S. trade association for online publishers, told the FT. “No company tracks the public across the web and our digital lives more than Google.”

The billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg still has not declared whether he is running for president in 2020 — but he is about to become the single-biggest spender in the presidential race anyway, Shane Goldmacher of the NYT reports.

Mr. Bloomberg is “beginning a $100 million digital campaign designed to attack and define President Trump in the top battleground states seen as likely to decide the 2020 election,” Mr. Goldmacher writes.

• “The ads will go online on Friday in four states — Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — and run through the end of the primary season, even if Mr. Bloomberg is not in the race.”

• “Mr. Bloomberg himself will not be featured in the ads beyond legally required disclaimers, even as he actively lays the groundwork for a campaign.”

• “The $100 million ad buy will be in addition to whatever Mr. Bloomberg may spend on efforts to promote himself to become the Democratic nominee.”

It “is an unprecedented financial show of force and a pre-emptive strike to undercut the expected Democratic complaints that Mr. Bloomberg’s money would be best spent on Democratic priorities, rather than his own presidential ambitions,” Mr. Goldmacher writes. “It also delivers the unsubtle message that if Democrats were to nominate Mr. Bloomberg, his immense wealth could tilt the financial playing field of 2020 in their favor.”

SoftBank’s Z Holdings (formerly known as Yahoo Japan) announced that it was in talks to merge with the nation’s messaging app operator Line — a deal that could create a $27 billion tech giant, Reuters reports.

Both companies are “worried by the growing penetration of U.S. tech companies in their home market of Japan, rising pressure throughout Asia from Chinese ‘super app’ operators such as Tencent, and stagnant growth throughout their businesses,” according to Nikkei Asian Review.

• “Line would contribute the 82 million Japanese users of its messaging app.”

• “Yahoo Japan would meanwhile contribute its popular news portal and an e-commerce business.”

Few details were officially disclosed, but unnamed sources cited by Reuters claim that a deal could be announced by the end of the month. The final deal, they said, could see SoftBank and Line’s parent, Naver Corporation, form a 50-50 venture that would control Z Holdings, which would in turn operate Line and Yahoo.

Investors certainly liked the news, with shares in Z Holdings rising 17 percent and those in Line rising 15 percent.

In Hong Kong, storefronts are shuttered, critical thoroughfares for commuters and commerce are cut off and university semesters are being cut short. Many now wonder how the city can heal from the turmoil of recent protests, report Alexandra Stevenson, Edward Wong and Keith Bradsher in the NYT.

“Life in Hong Kong has dramatically changed, pushing the economy into recession, fraying faith in the authorities and pitting neighbors against one another,” they write. And some of the wounds may be lasting.

The economy will eventually recover. Shoppers from mainland China will return to buy Tiffany rings and Chanel bags, lured by low taxes. But the healing process cannot begin until the protests end.

“Nobody wants blood on his or her hands,” said a member of Hong Kong’s cabinet. “But because no decisive action is taken, Hong Kong is being destroyed.”

More: Hong Kong’s position as the largest market for Swiss watch exports won’t last, the C.E.O. of Officine Panerai said.

Deals

• Shareholders voted yesterday to approve the merger of Gannett and GateHouse Media, which will create the largest newspaper publisher in the U.S. (NYT)

• Venture-capital fund-raising in China is heading toward its lowest level since 2013. (WSJ)

• The French telecommunications company Orange is reportedly preparing to split its mobile towers into a separate company. (FT)

• Berkshire Hathaway disclosed an investment in the home-furnishings company Restoration Hardware. (Reuters)

• The European Investment Bank will end all lending to fossil fuels by the end of 2021. (Forbes)

Trump impeachment inquiry

• Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that testimony “corroborated evidence of bribery” by President Trump in his dealings with Ukraine. (NYT)

• Senate Republicans are split over how quickly to move on an impeachment trial. (NYT)

• Facebook and YouTube said they would block attempts to name the Ukraine whistle-blower on their platforms, but they are struggling to keep up. (NYT)

• What to expect from Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, who will testify publicly today. (NYT)

• Rudy Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, joked that he had good “insurance” in case the president turned on him. (Guardian)

Politics and policy

• President Trump asked the Supreme Court to block the release of his tax records, setting up a major decision on presidential power. (NYT)

• The threat of automation is real, says Andrew Yang, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. (NYT Op-Ed)

• The Harvard economist N. Gregory Mankiw, once an adviser to Republican leaders, explains why he plans to vote in the Democratic primary. (NYT)

Trade

• The White House economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said that negotiations between the U.S. and China over the “Phase 1” trade agreement were “down to the short strokes.” (Bloomberg)

• The U.S. threatened Egypt with sanctions over Cairo’s decision to proceed with a purchase of Russian warplanes. (WSJ)

• President Trump’s increasing reliance on economic sanctions to solve foreign policy problems is fueling concern that the U.S. is abusing its financial power. (NYT)

Tech

• How Amazon’s quest for more products and lower prices has resulted in a flea market of fakes. (WaPo)

• Uber has been fined $649 million by New Jersey for years of unpaid employment taxes for its drivers. (NYT)

• How Apple’s iPhones and apps are being used by researchers to carry out large-scale medical research. (NYT)

• TikTok has taken its lobbying to Europe. (Politico)

• The U.K.’s opposition Labour party said that, if it wins the December election, it would nationalize some of the telecoms provider BT’s network to offer free broadband across the country. (Reuters)

• The 50 attorneys general investigating Google for potential antitrust violations will reportedly expand their inquiry to examine the Android and search businesses, not just advertising. (CNBC)

Best of the rest

• Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, is trying to show investors and consumers that it can be both environmentally sustainable and profitable. (NYT)

• The Fed Reserve chair, Jay Powell, reiterated that he thought the central bank’s interest rate cuts would buoy the U.S. economy. (WSJ)

• Daimler, the maker of Mercedes-Benz, plans to cut €1.4 billion, or about $1.55 billion, in personnel costs and 10 percent of managers worldwide. (FT)

• Jeffrey Epstein’s estate plans to establish a voluntary resolution program for the late sex offender’s accusers. (NYT)

• Taylor Swift accused the music manager Scooter Braun of preventing her from performing her old songs. (Forbes)

Thanks for reading! We’ll see you next week.

We’d love your feedback. Please email thoughts and suggestions to business@nytimes.com.

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S&P 500 creeps up to another record close

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Warren vs. billionaires: wealth tax fight heats up

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Avoid momentum stocks, play the middle, says strategist

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Ford will Mustang name for new electric SUV

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Breakingviews TV: Xerox this

Reuters, the news and media division of Thomson Reuters, is the world’s largest international multimedia news provider reaching more than one billion people every day. Reuters provides trusted business, financial, national, and international news to professionals via Thomson Reuters desktops, the world’s media organizations, and directly to consumers at Reuters.com and via Reuters TV. Learn more about Thomson Reuters products:

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M&A wrap: CVC, Al Gore, Generation Investment, Convoy, Apollo, Industrial Growth, AEI

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CVC Capital Partners has raised its second growth fund at 1.6 billion. The PE firm invests in middle-market tech-enabled businesses across North America and Europe including: software, Software-as-a-Service, cloud computing, payments, security, financial technology and healthcare information. The fund will target investment sizes that are betweeen $50 million and $250 million in equity. “The companies we partner with often operate in competitive markets and face significant challenges on their journey to success,” says CVC managing partner John Clark. “That is where we come in; we collaborate with their management teams to help them overcome obstacles to growth, and to successfully execute their strategy, so that they can become leaders in their field.” Separately, CVC has led a $64 million investment round in SheerID, an identity marketing verification provider, joining previous investors Centana Growth Partners and Voyager Capital.

Mergers & Acquisitions has launched a new weekly 7-part series on retail technology M&A. We’re kicking it off with an in-depth look at how the Internet of Things is transforming retail and how the trend is playing out in dealmaking. Nike (NYSE: NKE) is making acquisitions to enhance its customer experiences. Nike bought Zodiac and Invertex Ltd., a pair of innovative digital startups helping the athletic apparel maker get closer to customers. McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD), the world’s largest restaurant chain, is gobbling up digital startups to improve customer experiences by capitalizing on IoT innovations- a strategy new CEO Chris Kempczinski supports. The company is buying personalization company Dynamic Yield for a reported $300 million in its largest deal in more than 20 years, and will use the software to customize drive-thru menus. Check back every Friday throughout the holiday shopping season for a new installment.

DEAL NEWS
Al Gore’s sustainability-focused investing fund, Generation Investment Management LLP, led a $400 million funding round for Convoy, which makes software to connect freight shippers with truck drivers. T. Rowe Price Group Inc. co-led the investment with Gore’s firm. The deal values the startup at $2.75 billion. Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Marc Benioff are also investors in Convoy. Read the full story by Bloomberg News: Al Gore’s fund leads $400 million deal with trucking startup.

Apollo Global Management Inc. (NYSE: APO) is buying technology distrisbutor Tech Data (Nasdaq: TECD) for $5.4 billion. Citi (NYSE: C), J.P. Morgan (NYSE: JPM), Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz are advising Apollo. Financing is provided by Citi, J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo, Barclays and RBC Capital Markets. Clearly Gottlieb is representing Tech Data.

Saint-Gobain is buying construction materials manufacturer Continental Building Products Inc. (NYSE: CBPX) for $1.4 billion. Citi (NYSE: C) and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP are advising CBP.

Industrial Growth Partners has bought Aspeq Heating Group, a maker of electric‐heating and thermal‐management technologies, from Bunker Hill Capital. Hennepin Partners and Morgan Lewis & Bockius advised the sellers.

AE Industrial Partners-backed BHI Energy has acquired electrical contractor Plaska Transmission Line Construction. Akerman and Crowe advised BHI.

DEAL TRENDS
Fifty-eight percent of dealmakers expect an increase in M&A activity involving privately owned businesses in the next 12 months, down from 82 percent in 2018, according to law firm’s Dykema’s 15th Annual M&A Outlook Survey. One-third of M&A professionals feel bullish, one-third feel bearish and another one-third say they are neutral about the upcominv dealmaking environment in 2020. The survey was completed between September and October 2019 by M&A professionals and advisors in a diverse group of professions in more than a dozen sectors.

The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) sent a comment letter to the Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) raising concerns about how a proposed rule change regarding the calculation of net operating loss (NOLs) limitations would harm startups and U.S. innovation. The proposed rules will impact the ability of companies to match startup losses from R&D and similar activities with the future income generated by those activities, and depressing startup valuations and impeding new business formation and investment in innovation, argues the trade group.

FEATURED CONTENT
Esteemed M&A attorney Martin (“Marty”) Lipton was honored at a black-tie event hosted by the Institute of International Education at The Pierre in New York on Oct. 30. Called the “the king of M&A,” the co-founder of New York law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, is well known to dealmakers as the architect of the anti-takeover defense strategy known as the “poison pill.” Lipton was awarded the IIE Stephen P. Duggan Award for Mutual Understanding “in recognition of his lifetime of extraordinary achievement and his lasting contribution to international higher education. Read the full story: Martin Lipton, inventor of the “poison pill” anti-takeover defense honored by IIE.

It’s a milestone year for the Blackstone Group Inc. (NYSE: BX), which transitioned from a publicly traded partnership to a corporation on July 1. The New York firm announced the final close of its latest global real estate fund recently. With $20.5 billion of total capital commitments, Blackstone Real Estate Partners IX is the largest real estate fund ever raised. Mergers & Acquisitions spoke with Stephen A. Schwarzman, the firm’s co-founder, chairman and CEO. Read the full story: “Complete control” is the beauty of private equity, says Blackstone’s Stephen A. Schwarzman.

The private equity model has held up very well over the decades, continuing to outperform the public markets, even as economic cycles come and go. But the rate of growth has slowed, leading PE firms to seek adjacent areas of business to expand. As PE firms face increased pressure to produce higher returns on their investments, many of them are turning to a familiar area of business: lending. Adams Street Partners, Balance Point Capital, Carlyle and VSS are all actively engaged in lending. Read the full story: Private equity firms are becoming lenders. Here’s why.

Prokanga is a unique recruiting firm that offers full-time and flexible recruiting services. Prokanga is managed by co-founders Jamie Cheney and Lesley Finer (pictured). Mergers & Acquisitions spoke with Finer, who has more than 10 years of recruiting for the finance industry and leads the finance practice at Prokanga. For more, see Why financial services pros need flexibility.

Looking for a glimpse of what’s to come in the private equity industry? Meet Mergers & Acquisitions’ 2019 Rising Stars of Private Equity. As the PE industry undergoes a generational shift, and many firm founders retire, it’s well worth getting to know these emerging leaders, including Branford’s Austin Collier, Sterling Partners’ Shawn Domanic and Summit Partners’ Sophia Popova. For profiles and video interviews, see Meet Mergers & Acquisitions’ 2019 Rising Stars of Private Equity. For Q&As, see 10 Rising Stars of Private Equity tell their tales.

Online retailers, including Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), are adding more fulfillment centers to meet consumer demands for faster shipping times. The owners of these properties along with the contractors that build them are becoming prime M&A targets. More local fulfillment centers means faster delivery times and lower last-mile costs to both retailers and customers. Read the full story: Amazon and Walmart open more logistics centers, driving warehouse M&A.

To celebrate deals, dealmakers and dealmaking firms, Mergers & Acquisitions produces three special reports every year: the M&A Mid-Market Awards; the Rising Stars of Private Equity; and the Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. For more on the timeline and nomination process for each, see Special reports overview: M&A Mid-Market Awards, Rising Stars, Most Influential Women.

EVENTS
In New York, it’s Middle Market Week. The 17th Annual Private Equity Wine Tasting Gala takes place on Nov. 13 at Gotham Hall. The PE roundtable series is being held on Nov. 14, and the breakfast program takes place on the same date at the Winston & Strawn offices.

Exponent Women is hosting a Family Office Event with Owens Group at LX Gallery in New York on Nov. 21. Mergers & Acquisitions editor-in-chief Mary Kathleen Flynn is moderating a panel.

The Annual Winter Conference AM&AA is taking place in Scottsdale, Arizon fron Jan. 8-10.

Deal Wave is being hosted by ACG Orange Country at the Ritz-Carlton-Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, California on Jan. 9.

ACG San Diego is hosting the Capital Conference 2020 at the Omni San Diego Hotel on Feb. 13.

Source: The Latest
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