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M&A wrap: Aflac, Varagon, AIG, Apax, L Catterton, IOP, Rockwell, Most Influential Women, Call for Nominations

Aflac Global Investments, a subsidiary of insurer Aflac Inc. (NYSE: AFL) is forming a partnership with middle-market lender Varagon Capital Partners. Varagon is also extending its partnership with American International Group. Aflac is committing up to $3 billion for Varagon to invest in mid-market loans, and is also buying the minority stake in Varagon held by former and current Oak Hill Capital partners and affiliates. Aflac and AIG will own equal stakes in Varagon, and the deal does not reduce Varagon’s ownership. “Middle market credit is a strategically important asset class for Aflac and we are excited to partner with Varagon,” says Aflac global chief investment officer Eric Kirsch. Varagon made about $14.5 billion in financing commitments to around 180 companies, as of Dec. 31. “These long-term commitments from two world-class insurers provide access to substantial capital, enhance Varagon’s capabilities to serve investors and borrowers, and accelerate the execution of our strategic growth objectives,” says Varagon CEO Walter Owens. Wells Fargo Securities and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP are advising Varagon. Rothschild and Debevoise & Plimpton are advising Aflac. Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP is representing AIG.

Mergers & Acquisitions has opened up the nomination process for the 13th Annual M&A Mid-Market Awards, which will honor leading dealmakers and deals that set the standard for transactions in the middle market in 2019. Nominations are accepted only through our electronic forms. The deadline is Friday, Feb. 7, 2020. There is no fee. For more information on the nomination process and what we seek in winning candidates, see Call for nominations: Submissions for the M&A Mid-Market Awards due Feb. 7.


Apax Partners and L Catterton have invested $285 million in ClassPass, which gives people access to gyms and fitness studios and allows them to make reservations online. Apax and L Catterton join existing investor Temasek. Kirkland & Ellis represented L Catterton

Industrial Opportunity Partners has acquired acquired Midwest Recycled and Coated Containerboard Mill. The latter manufactures recycled containerboard, for packaging, recycled bag products and white paper for book publishing and printing materials. McDermott Will & Emery represented IOP. JP Morgan Chase Bank and Yukon Partners provided financing.

Human behavior and data analytics firm Escalent has purchased Javelin Strategy & Research from Greenwich Associates. The deal expands Escalent’s presence in retail and small business banking. Marlin & Associates advised Javelin.

Entrepreneurial Equity Partners-backed Daniele International has merged with Creminelli Fine Meats. The target is a producer of charcuterie and protein snacks. BofA Securities advised the Creminelli.

Rockwell Automation (NYSE: ROK) is buying cybsecurity company Avnet Data Security.

Mark Satran has joined aerospace and defense-focused private equity firm AE Industrial Partners as a senior managing director. He was previously with Alterna Capital Partners.

Ian Read, a former Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) CEO, was hired by the Carlyle Group (Nasdaq: CG) as an operating executive in the firm’s healthcare group. Read will help Carlyle find healthcare investments. Separately, Carlyle partner Bryan Corbett was hired by the Managed Funds Association, the hedge fund’s industry main trade association, as its new president. The group lobbies on tax and financial regulation issues.

WIlliam Perlstein has joined FTI Consulting Inc. (NYSE: FCN) as a senior managing director and vice chair, client services. He was most recently with BNY Mellon.

Brian Brownschidle, Roger Gill and David Lloyd have been promoted to managing directors at financial services firm XMS Capital Partners.

If there’s anything M&A professionals dislike, it’s uncertainty. And heading into 2020, there’s more than enough uncertainty to go around, including questions about the economy, international trade, impeachment, domestic politics and more. The funny thing is, the lack of clarity may actually make the first half of the year a great time for M&A, as dealmakers push to close transactions before the looming uncertainty of Election Day and its outcome. We conducted interviews with 8 investment bankers and other M&A advisors. Some said the first half of the year will be robust, while others said the uncertainty may have a negative impact throughout 2020. Read the full story, What’s ahead for M&A in 2020? We ask 8 advisors.

Mergers & Acquisitions has named the 2020 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. This marks the fifth year we have produced the list, which recognizes female leaders with significant influence inside their companies and in the wider dealmaking world. It’s been gratifying to watch the project evolve over the years – and become more influential itself. This year, we received more nominations than ever before. As a result, we expanded the number honored to 42 in 2020, up from 36 in 2019. Many dealmakers are new to our list, including Rockwood Equity Partners’ Kate Faust, William Blair’s Shay Brokemond and Avante Capital Partners’ Ivelisse Simon. Read our full coverage of all the champions of change on our list, including Q&As with each individual.

Mergers & Acquisitions examines the impact of 7 technologies on M&A in the retail sector. Read the whole series:

Overview: Retail Tech M&A: 7 Technologies Driving Change
Retail Tech M&A #1: Nike, McDonald’s, PayPal, add customization, IoT
Retail Tech M&A #2: Why Walmart and other retailers are buying artificial intelligence startups
Retail Tech M&A #3: Amazon leads race to build fulfillment centers
Retail Tech M&A #4: Do robots fill orders faster?
Retail Tech M&A #5: Voice recognition gives retailers more ways to communicate
Retail Tech M&A #6: Data improves customer service
Retail Tech M&A #7: Demand for convenience drives growth in mobile ordering

Albertsons, Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR), Stop & Shop and Walmart (NYSE: WMT) are building automated mini-warehouses and “dark stores” to make deliveries and prepare pickup orders. Mini-warehouses are usually attached to existing stores, and in most cases, “dark stores” are completely separate. Both formats are closed off to customers, and are mostly automated. They use the assistance of robots for speed, save on labor, and get orders out faster. Kroger bought a five percent stake in robotics firm Ocado. Read our full coverage: Smart supermarkets become popular, as Kroger, Walmart add them.

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.

The Annual AM&AA Winter Conference is taking place in Scottsdale, Arizona 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 New York is hosting the 12th annual healthcare conference and bourbon tasting at the Metropolitan Club in New York on Feb. 27.

Source: The Latest