PitchBook News - M&A market on the mend

VC-backed M&A falls to decade low; Plural closes $400M+ early-stage fund; retail tech gets giddy about AI
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The Daily Pitch: VC
January 24, 2024
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Today's Top Stories  
Exploring signs of revival for M&A dealmaking
Worldwide M&A deal value reached $3 trillion in 2023, marking it the second-weakest year in a decade. However, other metrics imply the worst may be behind us, according to our 2023 Annual Global M&A Report, sponsored by Liberty GTS.

The total estimated M&A deal count was 37,300—the third highest on record. Additionally, the Federal Reserve's pivot to interest-rate cuts raises optimism for an upcoming recovery in the deal market. Lastly, public multiples have sprinted ahead of private multiples, setting the stage for a catch-up move.
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VC-backed M&A spoils predictions, falling to decade low
(Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images)
VCs and market participants have been predicting an uptick in M&A activity for at least six quarters, but their forecasting powers keep failing them.

2023 turned out to be the worst year in a decade for acquisitions of VC-backed companies. Companies purchased nearly 700 startups at a combined value of $26.7 billion, about a quarter of the value sold during the 2021 peak.
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A message from Affinity  
The top VC predictions for 2024
If you experienced whiplash as an investor in 2023, you're not alone. This is why Affinity is happy to present you with some (cautious) optimism in Affinity's 2024 Private capital investment predictions report. Affinity asked 700+ dealmakers what they expect for the upcoming year and uncovered: why investors anticipate higher deal volume in 2024, how investors are shifting priorities to snap up high-quality deals, and more!

Read it now
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Retail tech gets giddy about AI
Retailers at this month's NRF conference were cautiously optimistic, given strong economic signals and rising ecommerce market share—tailwinds that should allow for further investment in retail technology in 2024.

AI was everywhere at the National Retail Federation event, with novel use cases spanning customer service, search and discovery, autonomous robots, and more. But some of the most potentially valuable applications, those involving back-end operations, face resistance from enterprise companies that are highly protective of proprietary data.

Our latest analyst note offers seven takeaways from the conference.
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London VC Plural closes $400M+ 2nd fund
Plural partner Taavet Hinrikus (John Phillips/Getty Images)
Less than two years after launching, London-based Plural has raised €400 million (around $434.5 million) for a second fund. The new vehicle follows a muted year for European VC fundraising, in which the total fund count sank to its lowest level in a decade.
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4 charts: Pockets of growth in European PE
(Barton/Getty Images)
Against a tumultuous backdrop, European PE activity exceeded expectations in many respects last year.

Four charts from our 2023 Annual European PE Breakdown highlight areas of growth across deals, exits and fundraising.
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People  
Levine Leichtman Capital Partners named Josh Kaufman as a partner. He will continue in his role as the head of the firm's European business.
 
VC Deals  
Silverfort, a cybersecurity startup based in Israel and Boston, raised a $116 million Series D led by Brighton Park Capital.

TravelPerk raised $104 million led by SoftBank's Vision Fund 2 at a $1.4 billion valuation. The London-based company offers a travel management platform.

Instagrid, a German developer of portable power systems, closed a $95 million Series C led by Teachers' Venture Growth.

Copenhagen's Monta, an electric vehicle charging startup, raised an €80 million Series B co-led by Energize Capital, GreenPoint Partners and Denmark's Export and Investment Fund.

Elephas, a Wisconsin-based biotech startup, raised a $55 million Series C co-led by Venture Investors Health Fund and the State of Wisconsin Investment Board.

San Jose-based AiDash raised a $50 million Series C led by Lightrock. AiDash uses satellite data and AI to help companies in industries like electric, gas and transportation to monitor assets.

Torq, a cybersecurity and automation startup based in New York, raised a $42 million Series B extension, backed by investors including Bessemer Venture Partners, GGV Capital and Insight Partners.

Tel Aviv-based autonomous farming startup Bluewhite completed a $39 million Series C led by Insight Partners.

Clerk, an automation development startup based in San Francisco, raised a $30 million Series B led by CRV.

Berlin's Morressier, which offers a virtual conference and publishing platform for the academic community, secured a $16.5 million Series B led by Molten Ventures.
 
PE Deals  
Clayton, Dubilier & Rice-owned fuel refilling station operator Motor Fuel Group is nearing a £2.5 billion deal to buy the refueling station portfolio of UK supermarket Morrisons, which is also owned by CD&R, Sky News reported.

Swedish debt collector Intrum is selling a chunk of its investment portfolio to Cerberus Capital Management for 8.2 billion Swedish kronor (about $785 million).

TPG has agreed to invest in G&A Partners, which offers an HR and tech services platform.

PSG has made a €100 million strategic growth investment in Swedish hospitality and travel software company Visit Group.

Martis Capital and Din Ventures made a growth investment in Connecticut-based dental platform company Archway Dental.

Summit Group, a provider of fiduciary and administrative services backed by Sovereign Capital Partners, is acquiring Dubai-based tax adviser Sanctuary.

An investor group led by Actis has acquired the macro tower portfolio of Telekom Srbija, a telecommunications company operating across Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro.

Main Capital Partners has picked up a majority stake in Buchner, a software provider for general therapists in Germany.

The Nov Santé Actions Non Cotées fund—a French healthcare sector-focused vehicle initiated by France Assureurs and Caisse des Dépôts and managed by Eurazeo—has bought a minority stake in Oncodesign Services for €22 million. Edmond de Rothschild Private Equity also contributed.

Gryphon Investors has sold its majority stake in skincare brand RoC Skincare to Bridgepoint.
 
Exits & IPOs  
Kennet Partners, Great Hill Partners and Denmark's Export and Investment Fund agreed to sell co-owned portfolio company Eloomi, a Copenhagen-based learning and development specialist, to human resource software company Ceridian. Kennet will generate a return of more than 3x its initial investment, according to the firm.
 
Fundraising  
Italian mid-market firm Alto Partners closed its fifth flagship fund on €273 million. The vehicle will target family-owned companies primarily in northern Italy.

Indonesia-based AC Ventures held a $210 million final close of its fifth fund.
 
Investors  
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority is reviewing how Australian pension funds value unlisted assets, including private equity, to limit risks within illiquid holdings in the sector, Reuters reported.
 
Chart of the Day  
"For late-stage and venture-growth-stage AI & ML startups, the average and median time since last VC raise is currently at 21.0 and 17.5 months, respectively, as of Q3 2023. It is worth noting that many AI & ML startups are relatively nascent compared with startups in other more established verticals, which explains the shorter time since last raise."

Source: Vertical Opportunities in a Reopened IPO Window
 
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