Nemaska Lithium Inc (TSX: NMX), a Québec City-based lithium hydroxide supplier to the lithium battery market, has received a $600 million investment offer from Pallinghurst Group, a U.K. metals and mining private equity firm. Pallinghurst proposed to invest $200 million through a private placement as well as $400 million through a rights offering. The parties agreed to a three-month period to finalize an agreement. Nemaska shareholders will vote on a deal no later than October. The proceeds are intended to fund the company’s Whabouchi project, which includes a lithium spodumene mine and electrochemical plant in Québec. Nemaska last year struck a US$150 million streaming deal with Orion Mine Finance.
Toronto-based video monetization platform Veühub has raised $2 million in a seed-stage financing. The round was backed by Bethmann Lombard Bancorp, a Canadian venture capital, merchant banking and financial advisory firm. Veühub provides technology to bring together video publishers, brands and agencies in a data-driven, content sharing and monetization platform. Since launching in 2016, the startup reports sharing millions of videos from unique content creators. Led by CEO Hainsley Guthrie, Veühub will use the round’s proceeds to scale development and its sales team, as well as finish building a new omni-channel ad-serving software-as-a-service product, Slyngshot.
99 Cents Only Stores LLC, a Commerce, California-based discount retailer, has completed recapitalization deals intended to eliminate US$300 million of debt and enhance the company’s liquidity position. As part of the transactions, 99 Cents Only Stores and its sponsors, Ares Management and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), entered into stakeholder agreements to convert all second lien debt and 92.1 percent of third lien debt into new preferred and common equity. Following the transactions, Ares and CPPIB continue to hold 73 percent ownership and majority control. Ares and CPPIB acquired 99 Cents Only Stores in 2012 for US$1.6 billion.
Entrepreneur Capital has carved out a niche in Québec’s active private equity market, targeting small-cap opportunities often missed by other investors. Last month, Entrepreneur closed its fifth platform deal, acquiring a controlling stake in Spencer Supports Canada, a Montréal- and Stanstead, Québec-based apparel business. Partner André La Forge told PE Hub Canada the company’s unique competitive position in a fast-changing sector makes it a fit in Entrepreneur’s strategy. “In an industry that’s shrinking, Spencer has an edge as a high-volume, private-label garment business,” La Forge said. Entrepreneur plans to leverage Spencer’s “unexploited potential,” La Forge said, by looking into “new avenues of development,” such as acquisitions.
Canadian private equity firm Onex Corp has agreed to sell Jack’s Family Restaurants LP, a Homewood, Alabama-based operator of quick-service restaurants. The financial terms of the deal, along with the buyer, were not disclosed. Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported Jack’s was exploring a sale that could value it at US$800 million or more. Onex acquired Jack’s in 2015, investing US$234 million. With the deal’s close, expected in Q3 2019, the firm will have received proceeds of about US$835 million, resulting in a gross multiple of invested capital of 3.6 x and a 38 percent gross return.
Horizon Blockchain Games, a Toronto-based video game studio and blockchain infrastructure company, has raised $3.75 million in a seed-stage financing. Initialized Capital, the U.S. venture capital firm of Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, led the round. It was joined by Golden Ventures, Polychain, Coinbase, Digital Currency Group and Inovia Capital. Founded in 2018 by CEO Peter Kieltyka and his team, Horizon creates games enabled by blockchain technology. The company’s debut title, SkyWeaver, a digital card game, is set to enter open beta this fall, along with its crypto-arcade platform and wallet, Arcadeum.
Thomson Reuters (TSX, NYSE: TRI) has acquired HighQ, a London, U.K.-based collaboration platform for the legal and regulatory market. No financial terms were disclosed. Launched in 2001, HighQ provides a secure cloud-based platform for business collaboration, workflow automation and client engagement to more than 400 global customers. In 2016, the company raised US$50 million from One Peak Partners, Morgan Stanley Merchant Banking and Goldman Sachs Private Capital. Thomson Reuters, a Toronto-based provider of business information services, said the deal will expand its cloud-based software offerings and help it meet demand from legal professionals.
Fresh Direct Produce Ltd has acquired Emperor Specialty Foods Ltd, a Richmond, British Columbia-based distributor of mushrooms, pears, and other specialty fruits and vegetables. No financial terms were disclosed. The seller was President Bob McDonald, who has led Emperor since its founding in 1986. Fresh Direct Produce, a Vancouver-based distributor of fresh, ethnic, tropical, organic and specialty produce, said the purchase of Emperor’s products, customers and locations will create new growth opportunities. Fresh Direct Produce was acquired last year by U.S. private equity firm Hammond, Kennedy, Whitney & Co (HKW).
Kersia has acquired Choisy Laboratories Ltd, a Louisville, Québec-based developer and maker of chemical, biotechnological and biosecurity hygiene solutions, for an undisclosed amount. The sellers were the Trudeau family and Champlain Financial Corp, a Canadian private equity firm. Champlain invested in 2015. Founded in 1946 by President and CEO Guy Trudeau, Choisy is primarily active in the food service and hospitality market segments in Canada and Europe. Kersia, a Dinard, France-based biosecurity and food safety company, said the acquisition grows its footprint in North America. The transaction was completed with the support of French private equity firm Ardian, which acquired Kersia in 2016.
Montréal-based cement products company McInnis Cement has closed a $500 million refinancing of its private capital. The deal includes $300 million provided by an increase to McInnis Cement’s senior loan from a syndicate of eleven Canadian and international banks. It also includes a $200 million subordinated loan from Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and Beaudier, an investment arm of the Beaudoin family, the company’s main shareholders. The proceeds will be used to support McInnis Cement’s growth and repay a bridge loan provided by BlackRock in 2016. CDPQ took a controlling stake in the company in 2016 when a cement project in Québec’s Gaspé peninsula experienced cost overruns.
RoadBotics, a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based infrastructure technology company, has raised US$7.5 million in a Series A financing. The round was led by Canadian artificial intelligence (AI) venture capital firm Radical Ventures, with participation from Hyperplane Venture Capital, Wharton Alumni Angels and others. Founded in 2016, RoadBotics uses AI to help governments and engineering companies make data-driven pavement management decisions. It serves more than 150 customers in 23 U.S. states and 11 countries. RoadBotics will use the funds raised to accelerate growth and develop new products. Earlier this year, Radical launched a new $458 million (US$350 million) AI-focused fund.
Vistara Capital Partners has led an undisclosed financing of BitTitan, a Bellevue, Washington-based managed services automation company. BitTitan helps information technology service professionals to deploy and manage cloud technologies through automation. Since 2009, it has moved more than 13 million users to the cloud for 36,000 customers in 187 countries. BitTitan will use the round’s proceeds to invest in automation initiatives and accelerate growth through its global offices and partnerships. Last October, Vistara, a Canadian provider of debt and equity financing to growth-stage technology companies, launched its third fund at a target of $130 million (US$100 million).
Clairvest Group has filed a lawsuit in a U.S. court to block the proposed merger of portfolio company Accel Entertainment Inc with TPG Pace Holdings Corp, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The deal, announced in June, would result in a combined entity with an expected initial value of about US$884 million, TPG Pace said. Clairvest described the merger as an “improper action” by Accel that also violates its shareholder approval rights and does not constitute a “valid drag-along sale in accordance with Accel’s charter.” In 2016, Clairvest acquired a minority stake in Accel, a Bolingbrook, Illinois-based video gaming terminal operator, investing US$32.5 million. TPG Pace is sponsored by an affiliate of U.S. private equity firm TPG.
Ag Growth International Inc (TSX: AFN) (AGI) has agreed to make a minority investment of US$15 million in Farmobile Inc, a Leawood, Kansas-based agriculture technology company. AGI, which also entered into a new strategic commercial agreement with Farmobile, will have the right to appoint two directors as a result of the deal. Founded in 2013, Farmobile provides hardware and software for the real-time collection, organization, analysis and storage of farm data. Its other investors include European venture capital firm Anterra Capital. Based in Winnipeg, AGI is a provider of equipment solutions for agriculture bulk commodities.
Lightspeed POS Inc (TSX: LSPD) has acquired iKentoo SA, a Geneva, Switzerland-based point-of-sale (POS) solutions provider to small businesses in the hospitality industry, for an undisclosed amount. Lightspeed, a Montréal-based retail and restaurant POS and e-commerce platform, said the deal expands its footprint by more than 3,800 customer locations mostly in Switzerland, South Africa and France. Lightspeed went public in Canada this year, raising $276 million. Going into the public launch, it was backed by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Inovia Capital and others. In April, the company raised US$55 million in credit facilities from CIBC Innovation Banking.
Vendasta, a Saskatoon-based white-label software company, has raised $40 million in its latest financing. Canadian Business Growth Fund (CBGF) led a $25 million round. It adds to a $15 million investment made in May, led by Comporium Inc and Saskworks Venture Fund and joined by Vanedge Capital and BDC Capital‘s IT Venture Fund. Founded in 2008, Vendasta provides a cloud commerce platform to channel partners that assist small and mid-sized businesses with their digital needs. Its products are are sold by more than 1,200 agencies and over 25,000 salespeople. Led by CEO Brendan King, Vendasta will use the funds raised for new hires, enhancing the platform, and expanding into new customer channels.
Subversive Capital Acquisition Corp (SCAC) has closed its initial public offering (IPO) on the Neo Exchange, raising proceeds of US$575 million, including the greenshoe option. The offering was distributed by Canaccord Genuity Corp. SCAC, a newly-formed special purpose acquisition corporation (SPAC), said it will now focus on sourcing and completing a qualifying transaction, targeting opportunities in the cannabis and related sectors. New York-based SCAC is sponsored by Subversive Capital Sponsor LLC. Its chairman is Michael Auerbach, general partner of U.S. venture capital firm Subversive Capital.
Landr, a Montréal-based creative platform for musicians, has closed its Series B financing, raising $26 million. Sony Innovation Fund, U.S. microphone maker Shure, Investissement Québec and Fonds de solidarité FTQ led the round. They were joined by Warner Music, Plus Eight Equity Partners, Slaight Communications, YUL Ventures and PEAK Capital Partners. Founded in 2012 in partnership with Canadian company creator TandemLaunch, Landr uses artificial intelligence to help artists and labels learn about, collaborate on, master, release and monetize music online. To date, it has supported more than 2.5 million artists worldwide. Led by CEO Pascal Pilon, Landr will use the funds raised to accelerate growth, expand into new markets, and develop new products.