M&A daily wrap: Oprah Winfrey, Centerbridge, True Food Kitchen, Thoma Bravo, Centrify, Exponent Exchange


Bloomberg News

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey has made an equity investment in True Food Kitchen, a portfolio company of Centerbridge Partners, and has joined the restaurant chain’s board of directors. “I love bringing people together over a good meal,” Winfrey said in a statement. “When I first dined at True Food Kitchen, I was so impressed with the team’s passion for healthy eating and, of course, the delicious food, that I knew I wanted to be part of the company’s future.” True Food’s menu “emphasizes wholesome, simple ingredients with thoughtful preparations to highlight the natural health benefits and flavors of each ingredient,” according to the company. Offerings include edamame dumplings, ancient grains with miso-glazed sweet potatoes and organic Tuscan kale salad. “When Ms. Winfrey and I first sat down to discuss her potential investment, I was impressed by her genuine passion for the intention behind True Food,” says Christine Barone, CEO of the restaurant chain. “My hope is that her passion and investment will continue to develop our growing brand to allow even more guests to experience a better way of eating.” Phoenix-based True Food operates 23 restaurants in 10 states. The company expects to double its store count in the next three years by focusing on the New York, New Jersey and North Carolina markets. Centerbridge is keeping a majority stake in True Food. Restaurants are scrambling to meet demands from diners who want cuisine they believe is healthy, responsibly-sourced and budget-friendly. Restaurants that meet those needs are attracting buyers. For example, Bain Capital Double Impact recently invested in vegan restaurant chain By Chloe.

Thoma Bravo is acquiring a majority stake in cybersecurity firm Centrify from venture capital backers, led by Mayfield, Accel Partners, Jackson Square Ventures and Index Ventures. Centrify manages cybersecurity risks by verifying users, validating their devices, and limiting their access and privileges. Compromised user identity is the leading type of cybersecurity attack, according to the 2018 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report. “Having invested successfully several times in the identity market, we’ve known and watched Centrify as a leader for many years, and we absolutely share the company’s vision on where the market is headed,” says Thoma Bravo partner A.J. Rhode. Barclays and Sidley Austin are advising Centrify. Kirkland & Ellis is representing Thoma Bravo. Golub Capital is providing financing.

Exponent, a networking group for women dealmakers that launched in 2017, is gearing up for its first marquee event, called Exponent Exchange, on July 12. The keynote speaker is Sallie Krawcheck, who previously served as CEO of several banks, including Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and the Citi Private Bank, and is now the CEO of Ellevest, an online investing website aimed at women. Additional speakers include: Lisa Bernstein, global head of human capital, Apollo Global Management LLC (NYSE: APO); Sarah Bradley, partner, Kainos Capital; Janet Cowell, CEO, Girls Who Invest; Mary Kathleen Flynn, editor-in-chief,Mergers & Acquisitions; Jennifer Lu, executive director, Moelis & Co. (NYSE: MC); Natalia Oberti Noguera, founder and CEO, Pipeline Angels; Thu Do, chief product officer, Tastemakers Africa; and Adrianne Shapira, managing director, Eurazeo Brands. Underscoring enthusiasm for initiatives aimed at women, sponsors of the event include leading dealmaking companies, such as Apollo, Baird, BDO, Merrill Corp. and Moelis. Read the full story: Entrepreneurs Sallie Krawcheck, Cheraé Robinson to speak at Exponent Exchange.

Deal news
Toronto-Dominion Bank is acquiring Greystone Capital Management in a push to become the largest Canadian money manager. Read the full story: TD to buy Greystone, adding $27 billion at asset-management unit.

TA Associates is investing in Compusoft, a provider of computer-aided design software to the kitchen and bathroom retail industries. The target’s systems include databases of graphic elements, pricing information and language translations from more than 2,800 digital manufacturer catalogs. Goodwin, Alvarez & Marsal and KMPG are advising TA. Kvale and ABG Sundal Collier are advising Compusoft.

The Riverside Co. has purchased a minority stake in Sreenvision from Abry Partners. Sreenvision offers on-screen theater advertising, in-lobby promotions and marketing programs to national, regional and local advertisers. Jones Day represented Riverside.

Industrial Opportunity Partners has merged portfolio companies Betty Machine Co. and GT Technologies Inc. Betty is a precision machining manufacturer of automotive parts, and GT is a supplier of gasoline and diesel engine parts.

Highview Capital has acquired food service distributor Good Source Solutions from Evergreen Pacific Partners. Good Source works with the education, non-profit, and healthcare sectors.

Conifex Timber Inc. has bought Suwannee Lumber Co. and Caddo River Forest from Blue Wolf Capital Partners.

People Moves
Zade Zalatimo has joined Houlihan Lokey Inc. (NYSE: HLI) as a managing director. Most recently with the Carlyle Group LP (Nasdaq: CG), Zalatimo is helping Houlihan’s advisory services in Dubai.

Hidehito Kanai has joined accounting firm SingerLewak as a partner in the assurance and advisory practice, based in the Torrance, California, office. Kanai previously worked in real estate and fund administrative businesses.

Featured content
Private equity firms are more active in the public sector than they were a couple of years ago, Brian Miller, the CFO of Tyler Technologies Inc. (NYSE: TYL), tells Mergers & Acquisitions. The company’s $150 million deal for data service company Socrata probably will not be the company’s last. Tyler has completed more than 40 acquisitions in the past decade. Read the full story: Tyler Technologies sticks with M&A strategy, despite PE competition.

Justify recently joined the elite group of Triple Crown winners. But, as anyone who’s ever bet the ponies knows, they can’t all be Justifys. Sometimes you get a winner and sometimes, for reasons that aren’t quite clear to anyone, you get an underperformer. It’s a concept with which most fund sponsors may be intimately familiar. You bet on the investment because you foresee its potential and understand the path it needs to take in order to achieve it. Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting a stuck-in-the-mudder into racing shape, written by Accordion‘s Rishi Jain and Anthony Horvat: 6 strategies to turn an underperformer into a “mudder.”

Huron Capital’s new Flex Equity Fund resonates with companies that “need a partner to help them grow, or to provide some liquidity, but don’t want to give up a controlling interest,” says partner Douglas Sutton in this video interview shot at ACG InterGrowth 2018. The Detroit firm won Mergers & Acquisitions’ M&A Mid-Market Award for 2017 Seller of the Year. Watch the video: Huron’s Flex Equity resonates with owners who don’t want to give up control.

As the dominoes start to fall and momentum builds, timing will matter to investors in cannabis, writes Jeffrey Howard, managing partner at Salveo Capital, an alternative investment firm specializing in the legalized cannabis sector, in a guest article. For most, the question isn’t whether the federal government legalizes cannabis, it’s how much longer investors will be able to capitalize on this undefined future to influence and profit from how the ecosystem ultimately takes shape, says Howard. If the M&A market can serve as a leading indicator, the runway for investors is already becoming shorter as strategic buyers represent, both, a threat and opportunity. In fact, major players within Big Alcohol, Big Tobacco and Big Pharma have each made inroads in the space, which proves out the investment thesis, but will surely beckon added competition. Read the full story: How to seize M&A opportunities in marijuana’s gray market.

Summer reading list: From stories of star athletes Arnold Palmer, Keith Hernandez and Tiger Woods to advice from entrepreneurs Bridgewater AssociatesRay Dalio, KPCB’s John Doerr, Nike’s Phil Knight and Brava Investments’ Nathalie Molina Niño, plus strategies to help business leaders in general, and female dealmakers in particular, the 15 books on Mergers & Acquisitions’ list entertain, instruct and inspire. Check out our listicle: Dealmaker’s guide to summer reading: 15 new books.


Demitri Diakantonis

Demitri Diakantonis

Demitri Diakantonis joined SourceMedia in 2015 and serves as Managing Editor of Mergers & Acquisitions. He covers all aspects of middle-market deamaking, with a focus on strategic buyers and the consumer and retail sectors, and writes The Buyside column.


Mary Kathleen Flynn

Mary Kathleen Flynn

Mary Kathleen Flynn joined SourceMedia in 2011, serving as the Editor-in-Chief of Mergers & Acquisitions. MK oversees the brand’s content on all media platforms, including website, e-newsletters, video, slideshows, podcasts and print.