M&A wrap: NBA, Adam Silver, CPPIB, Sportradar, Fanduel, Clearlake, Ametek


Photo credit: Bloomberg News

The National Basketball Association, led by commissioner Adam Silver, has signed the first gambling data partnerships in the U.S., giving two firms the right to sell the fastest and most accurate NBA information to bookmakers across the country. Under identical multiyear deals, Genius Sports Group and Sportradar AG will be the official gatekeepers of the NBA and WNBA’s betting data, serving as middlemen between the leagues and gambling houses across the country. The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), through its subsidiary, CPP Investment Board Europe S.à r.l., and Silicon Valley-based growth equity firm TCV together are acquiring a minority stake in sports data provider Sportradar from private equity firm EQT and minority shareholders. Some of Sportradar’s exisiting shareholders include: basketball legend Michael Jordan; Ted Leonsis, owner of the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals; Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks; and venture capital firm Revolution Growth, founded by Leonsis and America Online co-founder Steve Case. The growth of legal sports betting in the U.S. will benefit sports leagues and teams in different ways, from sponsorship opportunities to increased fan interest and TV ratings, reports Bloomberg News. Sports betting is rapidly gaining traction in the U.S., and that is spurring mid-market deals. Scientific Games Corp. (Nasdaq: SGMS) is buying sports betting data provider Don Best Sports Corp. The deal comes on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning a 1992 federal law that barred most states from authorizing sports betting. The decision could pave the way for states to allow sports gambling. Silver was the first major league commissioner to argue against the federal sports-betting ban, and the league was also the first to partner with a sportsbook. Casino operator Boyd Gaming Corp. (NYSE: BYD) and fantasy sports company FanDuel Group are forming a strategic partnership in which the two companies will leverage each other’s brands and technology to pursue online gaming across the U.S. Under the partnership agreement, Boyd will expand into online sports betting using FanDuel’s technology, while FanDuel will establish an online sports gaming presence in states where Boyd is licensed. Read the full story: NBA breaks fresh ground for sports with first gambling data deal and Why sports gaming M&A is about to take off.

In New York, it’s Middle Market Week. Hosted by ACG New York Nov. 26-30, events throughout the city bring together leading global middle-market dealmaking professionals. The highlight is the Private Equity Annual Wine Tasting Gala on Nov. 28 at Gotham Hall. The building was constructed in the 1920s as the headquarters of the Greenwich Savings Bank. The evening brings together the leading middle market private equity firms for fine wines and networking.

Deal news
Inflexion Private Equity has bought Mycom Group Ltd. from Clearlake Capital Group. Mycom is a software company that offers assurance, analytics and automation services to communications service providers. William Blair and Mooreland Partners advised Mycom.

Ametek Inc. (NYSE: AME) has purchased predictive analytics company Spectro Scientific from SFW Capital for $190 million.

Sentinel Capital Partners has acquired Apex Cos. The target offers services to assess, prevent, and cure environmental issues related to water, ground, facilities, and air quality. Houlihan Lokey (NYSE: HLI) advised Apex.

Baird has acquired wealth management firm Hilliard Lyons. The latter has more than 380 financial advisors, operating from more than 70 offices in 11 states.

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec is investing $150 million in travel technology company Plusgrade, valuing the target at around $450 million. CDPQ has acquired part of TA Associates’ stake in Plusgrade. Morgan Stanley Canada Ltd. and Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP advised Plusgrade. Hoskin & Harcourt LLP represented Caisse.

Pharos Capital-backed Family Treatment Network has acquired ABA of North Texas, an outpatient autism services provider.

Sterling Partners has invested in early child education organization Big Blue Marble Academy.

Boutique energy advisory firm Holt Energy Advisors has launched in London. The firm is led by Chris Starling, who was most recently the head of commercial and business development for Engie’s UK exploration and production unit.

People moves
Michael Broderick was hired by Varagon Capital Partners as a managing director where he is focusing on originations in the healthcare sector. He was most recently with CapitalSource.

Tadhg Flood has joined Centerview Partners as a partner. Flood was previously with Deutsche Bank and focuses on financial services in Europe.

People moves: Gregg Byers joins Baird. Former DOJ attorney Katherine Forrest moves to Cravath. Jennifer Zhao joins Genstar Capital. Check out our slideshow: 12 top dealmakers take on new jobs.

M&A trends
Private equity firms are raising new funds at a faster rate. According to Preqin, in 2018 it took an average of 42 months between fundraising cycles compared to 52 months in 2013, with North American-based PE firms leaving an average 38 months between new funds.

About 55 percent of deals valued over $100 million that were completed between 2008 and 2018 have outperformed the market by 3.1 percentage points, or $227 billion, according Willis Towers Watson’s (NASDAQ: WLTW) Quarterly Deal Performance Monitor. “Some business leaders argue that organic growth is better than buying growth, but the track record of the last decade should make companies question this conventional view,” says Willis Towers senior director Jana Mercereau.

Recruiting women has become a priority at private equity firms. Within the past decade, 83 percent of private equity managers based in North America, Asia and Europe said they focused on increasing gender diversity in their front-office roles, according to new research from EY. Sixty-three percent of the firms say they want more women in middle- and back-office roles as well. Check back next month when Mergers & Acquisitions will announce the 2019 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. For last year’s list, click here. And read the full story on EY’s data from Bloomberg: Private equity firms say recruiting women is a top priority.

Featured content
In time for the holidays, private equity firms are giving back – organizing groceries at food pantries, mentoring students in schools, running races for cancer cures and pitching in at animal shelters. In the spirit of holiday giving, Mergers & Acquisitions highlights the philanthropic and volunteering initiatives of 5 PE firms: the Carlyle Group LP (Nasdaq: CG), Frontier Capital, Huron Capital, the Riverside Co. and Star Mountain Capital. At Carlyle, charity starts at the top, with CEO David Rubenstein’s signing of The Giving Pledge, a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. Community involvement is more important than ever to today’s work force. Millennials, defined as people born between 1981 and 1996 by the Pew Research Center, are “for sustainability, diversity, inclusion and giving back to the community,” says Carlyle managing director Christopher Ullman. “We are finding this more and more. Yes, we are here to make money, secure retirement for pensioners, but the firm wants to support people’s efforts to make the world a better place.” Frontier Capital supports several causes, including The Miracle League, a baseball organization for people who are mentally and physically challenged. “There’s more to life than work and material things, and our people understand that,” says Frontier managing partner Andrew Lindner. At Detroit-based Huron Capital, the firm’s philanthropic efforts are focused on local groups. “We want to leave our footprint in this community where we live and work while being as helpful as possible,” says partner Gretchen Perkins. “The charitable activities we do as a group, the ability for each employee to influence where Huron’s donations go, and the ability to perform community service during work hours, or receive matching funds for an employee’s personal non-profit passion, all contribute to a portion of an employee’s sense of purpose and contributing to the greater good.” Read the full story, The Big Give.

Cyber Week and holiday shopping shine a spotlight on the retail industry, and the pressure on purveyors is more intense than ever, with Sears’ recent bankruptcy filing serving as a cautionary tale. It’s been a year since Amazon bought Whole Foods, a game-changing deal for the sector. Technology is driving many of the transactions. Best Buy Co. (NYSE: BBY) recently agreed to spend $800 million to buy GreatCall, a provider of emergency response services for seniors, from Chicago private equity firm GTCR. Meanwhile, GreatCall announced a partnership with on-demand transportation provider Lyft to make it easier for seniors to get car service. “Many of the challenges that retailers are currently facing are due more to a lack of innovation and investment in technology, and that they are not able to compete with Amazon,” said Alex Monahan, a consumer products senior analyst at tax and consulting firm RSM US LLP. “Investors want to see that retailers are adjusting to consumer’s changing preferences and striving to provide seamless multi-channel experiences, while also investing in technology to address the tight labor markets.” Amazon, Walmart, Ikea, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Farm Boy are among the retailers turning to M&A. For more, see 5 trends driving retail M&A.

We asked dealmakers at M&A East to share their thoughts on Giving Back. Check out our video interviews with Baker Tilly Capital’s Judit Nagy-Eichelber: Volunteer work brings teams together and Reed Smith’s Jonathan Moyer: For millennial dealmakers, giving back is part of who they are.

The Texans defeated the Titans 34-17 Monday night, as NFL Week 12 wrapped up. Texans founder and owner Robert McNair died Nov. 23 at 81 after battles with multiple cancers. Off the field, many football players invest in companies. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady recently teamed with former Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, who is the co-host of ABC’s Good Morning America, to launch a sports media startup called Religion of Sports Media, which has raised $3 million in venture capital funding from CourtsideVC and Advancit Capital. Many NFL players invest in companies. Muhsin Muhammad, who played wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers and the Chicago Bears, is a managing director of private equity firm Axum Capital Partners. Steve Young, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, is a co-founder of private equity firm HGGC. View our slideshow, NFL stars Tom Brady, Michael Strahan, Steve Young go PE.


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.