Things are looking up

Private equity sentiment trends higher


Happy Wednesday. Here’s what we’ve got today…

  • A look at the latest positive predictions for private equity

  • The deal sheet, plus Jefferies’ Internet banking report


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Latest survey readout positive for private equity’s year ahead

By Bob Clair

Though public sentiment toward private equity remains largely negative, there is some relief this week in a new survey published by Citizens Financial Group that found 75 percent of small and mid-size business owners view private equity as a source of current or future partnership and funding.

Continued receptivity from founder-owned businesses comes as a sharp contrast to coverage of private equity in traditional media and the industry’s current political perception—welcome news for sponsors looking to get deals across the finish line, particularly in the lower middle market.

Conducted as part of its 2024 M&A outlook, the Citizens’ survey questioned 530 leaders of small and mid-size businesses on their economic outlook for the coming year. Despite mixed headlines this year, more than 60 percent of businesses plan to expand headcount in 2024, while only 9 percent believe the 2024 election cycle will have a negative impact on their company’s growth plans. Fewer than 40 percent feel that geopolitical issues pose a serious threat to their company’s financial performance.

Supply chain fears haven’t entirely eased, however, with 38 percent of respondents reporting that they have become more concerned about disruptions in 2024 than the prior year; 51 percent felt the same level of concern.

Citizens’ separate private equity survey found a majority of participants expect a jump in deal volume this year.

“With $2.5 trillion of private equity dry powder on the sidelines, elevated buyer enthusiasm and a positive perception of sponsors should support a constructive environment for dealmaking,” said Don McCree, vice chair and head of commercial banking at Citizens.

Similar research from analysts at Bain & Company predicts that general partners will soon get off the sidelines and start buying. Funds have cash that needs to get put to work, 26 percent of which "is four years old or older, up from 22 percent in 2022,” according to the report.


Blackstone has agreed to acquire Tropical Smoothie Cafe, a 1,400-location health-focused fast-casual chain, from Levine Leichtman Capital Partners.

Sanofi is considering the separation of its consumer-health business, which could be valued at more than $20 billion, and has asked banks to pitch for advisory roles.

IBM agreed to acquire HashiCorp, a provider of multi-cloud infrastructure automation software, at an enterprise value of around $6.4 billion.

Bridgepoint Group has retained Jefferies as it considers exit options for its Swedish functional drinks business Vitamin Well, which could be worth more than €2 billion, per The Financial Times.

• Apollo Global Management sold a stake in its asset-backed lending unit Atlas SP Partners to insurer MassMutual, per the Financial Times.

KKR has agreed to acquire Immedica Pharma, a Stockholm-based pharmaceutical company, with current owner Impilo retaining an equal stake in the business.

CoStar Group (Nasdaq: CSGP) has agreed to acquire Matterport, Inc. (NasdaqGM: MTTR), a 3D virtual tour platform, for around $2.1 billion.

Permira is kicking off a sale process for its 50 percent stake in Grobest, an Asian aquatic food provider that could be worth around $1 billion, with Morgan Stanley hired to run the process.

JD Sports has agreed to acquire Hibbett, a North American sports retailer, for around $1.1 billion.

LiveMode, a live sports media distribution company, received a minority investment from General Atlantic and XP Private Equity.

Incline Equity Partners acquired VMG Health, a healthcare compliance and advisory firm, from Northlane Capital Partners.

PAI Partners acquired a majority stake in Audiotonix, a manufacturer of professional audio mixing tools, with previous investor Ardian retaining a minority stake.

Alcanza Clinical Research, backed by Martis Capital and Alpha Leonis Partners, acquired FDI Clinical Research, a multi-specialty research organization based in Puerto Rico.

Apax Digital has agreed to acquire IANS, a provider of information security research and advisory services.

Ithaca Energy has agreed to acquire nearly all of Eni's UK upstream oil and gas-producing assets, excluding Eni's East Irish Sea and carbon capture activities, for around £754 million.

Robinson Helicopter Company acquired Ascent AeroSystems, a manufacturer of rugged coaxial drones.

Descartes Systems Group (TSX: DSG) acquired Aerospace Software Developments, an Ireland-based provider of customs declaration software, for around €57 million.

Infinite Reality, a provider of virtual and AI-powered immersive experiences, has agreed to acquire the Drone Racing League for $250 million.

JANA Partners disclosed it has built a position in Wolfspeed (NYSE: WOLF), a silicon carbide manufacturer, and urged the company to consider a potential sale.

Bambuser (STO: BUSER), a Stockholm-based video commerce company, has agreed to acquire the assets of Hero, a personalized e-commerce shopping platform, from Klarna for around €1.3 million.

Legrand has agreed to acquire Enovation, a Dutch digital healthcare platform, from Main Capital Partners for more than €500 million, per Bloomberg.

TabaPay has agreed to acquire the assets of Synapse Financial Technologies, a banking-as-a-service platform that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, for around $9.7 million pending court approval.

ShiftMed acquired CareerStaff Unlimited, a per diem and contract managed service provider, from Genesis HealthCare.

Uniti Group Inc. is in advanced talks to merge with telecommunications provider Windstream, which it had previously spun off, per Bloomberg.

Astatine Investment Partners acquired NRG Riverside, a specialist fleet solutions provider, from Palatine.

Gamut Capital Management and the Doyle family agreed to acquire DEX Imaging, a provider of managed print services, from Sycamore Partners-backed Staples.

CVC Capital Partners is exploring exit options for its 51.8 percent stake in Recordati SpA, an Italian drugmaker.

Thunes acquired Tilia, a San Francisco-based digital economies payments platform, from Linden Research.

Masonite International Corporation (NYSE: DOOR) has agreed to sell its Architectural segment to IBP Solutions, a newly formed portfolio company of Industrial Opportunity Partners.

• BDT & MSD Partners is nearing a deal to sell its majority stake in Marquette Transportation Co., a provider of marine towing services, to Redwood Holdings at a $1 billion valuation.


Tech, Vertical SaaS, & Misc. Enterprise

Perplexity AI, a developer of AI language search models, is in talks to raise $250 million in Series B funding at a valuation of up to $3 billion.

Rippling, an online payroll and HR platform, raised $200 million in Series F funding at a $13.5 billion valuation. Coatue Management led, with participation from Dragoneer and existing backers Founders Fund and Greenoaks.

Parloa, an AI-powered automation platform for customer service, raised $66 million in Series B funding. Altimeter Capital led, with participation from EQT Ventures, Newion, Senovo, Mosaic Ventures, and La Famiglia.

Givebutter, a nonprofit fundraising and CRM platform, raised $50 million in new funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from Ardent Venture Partners.

FlexAI, a developer of cloud infrastructure for AI applications, raised $30 million in seed funding. Alpha Intelligence Capital, Elaia Partners, and Heartcore Capital co-led, with participation from Bpifrance, Frst Capital, Motier Ventures, Partech, and Karim Beguir.

Nagomi, an AI-powered cybersecurity platform, raised $30 million in new funding. TCV led, with participation from CrowdStrike Falcon Fund, Okta Ventures, and Team8.

Sublime Security, a programmable email security platform, raised $20 million in SeriesA round funding led by Index Ventures, with participation from Decibel Partners and Slow Ventures.

BforeAI, a provider of AI-powered cyber attack intelligence, raised $15 million in Series A funding. SYN Ventures led, with participation from existing investors Karma Ventures, Karista, Addendum Capital, and Partnership Fund for New York City.

Infogrid, a building management software company, raised $13 million from Keyframe Capital and A/O.

Octomind, an AI-powered software testing startup, raised €4.5 million in seed funding led by Cherry Ventures.


Superlogic, a developer of blockchain-powered enterprise loyalty solutions, raised $7.6 million in new funding co-led by Amex Ventures, Sangha Capital, and TenSquared Capital, with participation from Nima Capital, Actai Unicorn Fund, Chainlink Capital, and Warner Music Group.

Turnkey, a developer of wallet infrastructure for blockchain developers, raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Lightspeed Faction and Galaxy Ventures, with participation from Sequoia, Coinbase, Alchemy, Figment Capital, and Mirana.

Media & Consumer

Campus, an online community college, raised $23 million in Series A funding led by Founders Fund, with participation from 8VC.

Framework, a developer of modular, repairable laptops, raised $17 million in Series A funding. Spark Capital led, with participation from Buckley Ventures, Anzu Partners, Cooler Master, and Pathbreaker.


Endeavor BioMedicines, a biotech focused on developing treatments for pulmonary fibrosis and solid tumors, raised $132.5 million in Series C funding. AyurMaya, an affiliate of Matrix Capital Management, led, with participation from Fidelity Management & Research Company, Invus, SymBiosis, Velosity Capital, and Woodline Partners.

Lumeris, a provider of value-based care management services, raised $100 million in new funding from Deerfield Management, Endeavor Health, and existing investors Kleiner Perkins, Sandbox Industries, BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners, and JDLinx.

Midi Health, a virtual health clinic focused on menopause and perimenopause, raised $60 million in Series B funding. Emerson Collective led, with participation from GV, Memorial Hermann, and existing backers SemperVirens, Felicis, Icon Ventures, Black Angel Group, Gingerbread Capital, Able Partners, G9, and Operator Collective.

Clarity Pediatrics, a virtual pediatric clinic focused on ADHD care, raised $10 million in seed funding from Rethink Impact, with participation from Homebrew, Maverick Ventures, January Ventures, Vamos Ventures, Alumni Ventures, and City Light VC.

Auxa Health, a health benefit navigation platform, raised $5.2 million in seed funding. Zeal Capital led the round, with participation from AlleyCorp, K50 Ventures, Laconia Capital, and Chaac Ventures.

Industrials, Greentech, & Other

Stark Future, a developer of high-performance electric motocross bikes, raised €25 million through a credit line from Big Bets.

Exowatt, an energy solutions developer focusing on AI and data centers, raised $20 million in seed funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Atomic, and Sam Altman.

Outpost, a network of managed semi-truck parking yards, raised $12.5 million in Series A funding. GreenPoint Partners led the round, with participation from Speedwagon Capital Partners.

Aquabattery, a developer of long-duration saltwater energy storage technologies, raised €6 million in seed funding led by EIT InnoEnergy, with participation from InnovationQuarter, Invest-NL, Init Power, and several business angels.


Vestar Capital Partners raised a $1.2 billion single-asset continuation fund for its stake in consumer analytics platform Circana.


1. Jefferies releases “State of Internet” thought piece.

• Key Internet banking market trends and predictions on where the market may be heading. — Jefferies


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