Investment

This week’s family/private investment office deals

Private Equity

Pritzker Private Capital has bought Vertellus, an Indianapolis-based speciality chemicals business led by John Van Hulle. 

PPC, backed by Tony Pritzker, is acquiring a company which has dramatically improved its fortunes since May 2016 when it took bankruptcy protection. Most of the current business was acquired by its lenders, who agreed to a debt cancellation, the following September.

Vertellus manufactures more than 700 products used in healthcare, personal care, agriculture, coatings and transportation. 

Originally called Vertellus Specialities, the company was developed through acquisition by private equity firms. Arsenal Capital Partners became involved in 2003. Wind Point Partners bought Vertellus from Arsenal in 2007.

The base from the business was an ambitious company called Rutherford Chemicals bought by Arsenal. It acquired the more conservative family-owned Reilly Industries in 2006 before selling to Wind Capital the following year. Other acquisitions followed. The company retained its reputation for herbicides and pesticides.

Down the line, however, Vertellus hit challenges as a result of competition from China, product oversupply and high levels of debt.

It took a $450 million deal with the lenders in 2016 to produce a revived business. Chief executive John Van Hulle took control in 2018, after successfully developing PolyOne’s global colour and additives business.

The deal by PPC is a classic illustration of its policy of buying basic industries with sound cash flow at a sensible price through sound management. It likes to buy mid-market companies with leading positions in manufacturing, services and healthcare.

Vertellus’ previous private equity owners used debt to push together different businesses to maximise returns.

In contrast, PPC develops cash flow over the long term, co-investing with other families as appropriate. 

Michael Nelson, head of investing at PPC, said in a statement: “We are thrilled to partner with John and the Vertellus team to continue growing this market-leading business.” PPC declined to confirm a purchase price.

 

Fratelli Investments, an investment vehicle of Megeve, a family-owned by the Argentinian Solari Donaggio family, has bought Medanito, a local oil company. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. 

Unspecified Rounds

Zoma Capital, a private investment office founded by Lucy Ana and husband Ben Walton of the Walmart dynasty, has invested in NextStep, a staffing agency. Zoma was one of four investors committing $2.5 million to the Seattle-based group. 

TOMS Capital, an investment group owned by hedge fund manager Noam Gottesman, has invested in Packaly, an on-demand delivery company. TOMs committed an unspecified amount to the Dutch-based group.  

Seed

Titan Capital, a private investment office set up by Snapdeal (an Indian e-commerce platform) founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bans, has invested in iMumz, a healthcare group. Titan was one of three investors seeding the Indian startup with INR22 million ($299,000).  

Quaker Capital Investments, a Pittsburgh-based investment office owned by Mark G. Schoeppner, has invested in Avisi Technologies, a medical device company. Quaker was one of five investors seeding the Philadelphia-based startup with just under $1 million.    

Pontos, a Finnish investment group owned by the Kokkila family, has invested in R8 tech, a real estate group. Pontos was one of two investors seeding the Estonian company with €900,000. 

Series A

Titan Capital, a private investment office set up by Snapdeal (an Indian e-commerce platform) founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bans, has backed Kyt, an edTech platform. Titan was one of fourteen investors committing $5 million to the Singapore group. 

Series B

YF Capital (Yunfeng Capital), an investment group owned by Jack Ma and David Yu, founders of Alibaba, and New Hope Group, owned by Australian mining billionaire Robert Millner, have invested in Flexiv, a robotics group. The two investors joined six others in a round worth $100 million for the Santa Clara-based group.

Ex-banker Brian Finn’s New York City-based Siddhi Capital has backed Thistle, a food and beverage group. Siddhi was one of four investors committing $10.3 million to the San Francisco-based group. 

Series C  

Wheatsheaf Group, owned by the Duke of Westminster and his family, has invested in Oxbury Bank, a specialist bank for the farming sector. Wheatsheaf backed the UK group with £20 million. 

YF Capital (Yunfeng Capital), an investment group owned by Jack Ma and David Yu, founders of Alibaba, has invested in Naixuecha, a tea company. YF Capital was one of two groups investing $100 million in the China-based group. 

Series E 

Atomico, the London-based venture-capital business owned and led by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström, and Sofina, an investment group owned by the Belgian-based Boël family, have invested in Graphcore, the inventor of the Intelligence Processing Unit, a microprocessor designed for AI and machine learning applications. The two groups were among 21 backers investing $222 million in the UK-based group. 

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