PE Week Wire — Friday, January 28

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Friday Feedback: Testa, Jobs and Greed

The New York air is cold, yet another columnist is on the Bush payroll (Mike McManus) and Goodwin Procter has nabbed additional Testa Hurwitz attorneys, including managing partner George Davitt. In other words, it’s time for Friday Feedback.

First up is the Testa Hurwitz affair, which we’ve got a bit of scoop on. Later today, the Goodwin Procter partners will vote to rubber stamp (err. approve) the addition of four THT partners, including Davitt, Carl Metzger and George Lloyd. That makes 58 Goodwin hires of former THT attorneys to date (associates and former THT COO Rufus King included), which towers over the bounty of other firm. Reactions to my regular writing on situation, however, have been mixed:

Chris says: “On behalf of all of us who don’t work in Boston, please stop writing about Testa Hurwitz. Why? Because we don’t care.” In a similar vein, Jeremy offers: “I’m sure all of your [Testa Hurwitz] reporting is very wonderful and insightful, but perhaps it would be better placed in the Legal Week Wire. Get back to deals, funds and trends.” On the other side were, among others, the Testa Hurwitz attorneys themselves. Wrote one: “Thank you very much for the way you have reported what happened here. It didn’t pull any punches, but it also wasn’t mean-spirited. Most importantly, it was right.”

One final THT note: I strongly encourage any Boston-area professional firms — particularly law firms – to fill current hiring needs with displaced THT employees. This column has focused on the attorneys, but there are well over 100 folks about to be out of work without severance. Many remaining THT partners are working hard to help find these folks jobs, and I sincerely hope that you, dear reader, can help as well.

Moving on, yesterday’s tongue-in-cheek column on The Blackstone Group elicited a number of emails like this one from Wendy: “Don’t Blackstone’s communications professionals get to participate in the fund? Since you are apparently under contract, you should be just fine.” Tom adds: “Didn’t Celanese already price?” Yes Tom, it did. I have no idea why I added a qualifier.

Tons of response to the “how to break into private equity” column, including my suggestion that luck plays an enormous factor. Daniel writes: “Your advice to the Wharton career-seeking crowd is probably the most practical advice they’ve been given in their entire education. I’d also add that they need to get out into the unwashed world and learn how to spot an opportunity and make a deal. That ability is only developed after paying some dues in their area of interest. Also, do it for the love, because there is a lot of B.S. to take along the way.”

An industry recruiter adds: “Know what it is you are trying to get into: All too often MBA students profess to want to get into ‘private equity’ but when asked, cannot articulate whether they want to be in buyouts or venture, focused on small deals or large, or whether to specialize in a sector or be a generalist. It is a highly competitive field so knowing where you want to play is half the battle in breaking in. Understand that the hedge fund and private equity worlds have not converged yet and so should still be treated as separate and distinct fields from a job search perspective.

Focus not on what a private equity fund can do for you but what you can do for the fund: so many people package themselves as having lots of ‘relevant experience’ (i.e., I have consulting experience therefore I am a strategic thinker and I have banking experience so therefore I can add up). Not sufficiently compelling. Fund X has made investments in lower middle market deals in the consumer manufacturing buyout space. Address specifically where your own experience is relevant, research the portfolio and make insightful comments about the subsets of the consumer sector and where you could potentially add value.

Finally, demonstrate some humility (know what you don’t know), be courteous and express enthusiasm about the opportunity to learn. Ego, attitude and hyperbole (so 90’s) are out; humility and hard work are in.”

Finally, lots of you criticized me for whining about the Celtics less than 24 hours after the Patriots won the AFC Championship. I would apologize, but it would be insincere. I have regrettably become a greedy person, which means that I now share much more in common with my Yankees-fan friends here in New York. Back to Boston for Monday’s Wire. Have a great weekend.

Email Daniel.Primack@thomson.com

 

Teachers’ Private Capital, the private equity arm of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, has completed its $450 million purchase of Alliance Laundry Holdings LLC, a Ripon, Wash.-based holding company for commercial laundry equipment provider Alliance Laundry Systems LLC. The sellers were Bain Capital Partners and minority shareholders like Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherrill & Co., which acquired Alliance in 1998. www.comlaundry.com

Infor Global Solutions, an Alpharetta, Ga.-based provider of ERP and supply chain solutions, has agreed to acquire Atlanta-based enterprise software company MAPICS Inc. (Nasdaq: MAPX) for $12.75 per share. The total deal would be valued at approximately $347 million. Infor is backed by Golden Gate Capital and Summit Partners. www.infor.com www.mapics.com

Adam Blumenthal has left his position as first deputy comptroller and CFO of New York City, in order to form his own private equity firm. Blumenthal joined NYC in June 2002 after having served as vice chairman of American Capital Strategies, and was credited with expanding the city’s Bureau of Asset Management (BAM), including a doubling of the City’s private equity investments. www.comproller.nyc.gov

Innovative Micro Technology Inc., a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based MEMS company that spun out of the remains of defunct Applied Magnetics Corp., has raised $17 million in its first round of institutional funding. Investor Growth Capital led the deal, and was joined by BA Venture Partners and Miramar Venture Partners. www.imtmems.com

Ondax Inc., a Monrovia, Calif.-based developer of volume holographic filters, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series C funding. Arcturus Capital and Prospector Equity Capital co-led the deal, and were joined by return backers CIV LLC and CalTech. www.ondax.com

Actelis Networks Inc., a Fremont, Calif.-based provider of broadband services over existing copper infrastructure, has raised $23 million in Series D funding, according to multiple news reports. New investors DuPont Ventures, Nova Ventures and France Telecom were joined by return backers Vertex Ventures, Carlyle Group, New Enterprise Associates, Walden International, ATA Ventures and U.S. Venture Partners. www.actelis.com

Accendo Technologies, an Ireland-based provider of customer experience management solutions for the mobile market, has raised EUR 1.2 million from Shannon Development Ireland and unnamed private investors. www.accendo.ie

Cendant Corp. (NYSE: JCD) is considering a sale of its Wright Express subsidiary, instead of a planned $1 billion IPO, according to the New York Post. The deal could be valued upwards of $1.2 billion, and reportedly has intrigued private equity firms GTCR Golder Rauner and Bain Capital, the latter of which would team up with Summit Partners portfolio company FleetCor Technologies Inc. on a joint bid. www.cendant.com

CHAMP, the Australian affiliate of Castle Harlan Inc., has acquired the businesses and assets of Ion Ltd.‘s energy services subsidiary. Ion is a Melbourne-based auto parts manufacturer currently in receivership. The deal is valued at approximately Au$144 million (approx. US$111), plus the assumption of certain operating leases. www.ionlimited.com.au

Dollar Financial Corp., a Berwyn, Pa.-based provider of financial services to lower-income customers, priced 7.5 million common shares at $16 per share (middle of its $15-$17 range), for an IPO take of approximately $120 million. It plans to list on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol DLRR. It had been acquired in 1998 by a holding company controlled by Leonard Green & Partners, Goldman Sachs Mezzanine Partners. www.dfg.com

OptionsXpress Holdings Inc., a Chicago-based provider of an online retail brokerage platform, priced 12 million common shares at $16.50 per share (high end of $14.50-$16.50 range), for an IPO take of approximately $198 million. It began trading yesterday on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol OXPS, and rose to $20.30 per share. Private equity backer Summit Partners sold 4,500 shares in the IPO, but retained another 13,829 shares (22.5% ownership). www.optionsxpress.com

W&T Offshore Inc., a Houston, Texas-based oil and gas exploration company, priced 12.66 million common shares at $19 per share (above $16.50-$18.50 range), for an IPO take of approximately $240.5 million. It counts Jefferies Capital Partners among its significant shareholders, and plans to trade on the NYSE under ticker symbol WTI.

Odimo Inc., a Sunrise, Calif.-based online retailer of brand-name watches and luxury goods, has set its proposed IPO terms to 4.5 million common shares being offered at between $11 and $13 per share. It has raised over $55 million in total VC funding since its 1999 inception as DiamondDepot, from significant shareholders like Softbank Capital Partners and STI Ventures.

Real-Time Radiography, an Israel-based developer of flat-panel detectors for digital x-ray imaging systems, has acquired Pleasanton, Calif.-based Exxim Computing Corp. for $1.2 million in cash and stock. The combined company will be based in Pleasanton. RTR has raised VC funding from TopNotch Capital, Millennium Materials Technologies, Risk Venture Capital, First IsraTech Fund, Maniv BioVentures and Denali Ventures. www.realtimeradiography.com www.exxim-cc.com

Cavalier Telephone, a Richmond, Va.-based CLEC, has acquired City Signal Communications, a provider of metro dark fiber solutions for both enterprises and service providers. No financial terms were disclosed. Cavalier is backed by M/C Venture Partners. www.cavtel.com

MidCoast Capital LLC of Rosemont, Pa. has purchased a membership interest in Utah Financing Solutions LLC, a Utah-focused SBIC, from the bankruptcy estate of an unnamed financial services company. www.midcoastcapital.com

Brooks, Houghton Interim Funding, a New York-based provider of bridge and interim capital to U.S. companies, has closed its second fund with $200 million in limited partner commitments. Far Hills Group served as placement agent for the fund. www.brookshoughton.com

The Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) has approved commitments to the following private equity and venture capital funds: Austin Ventures IX ($40 million – follow-on); J.H. Whitney VI ($50 million – follow-on); Meridian Venture Partners II ($10 million), Meritech Capital Partners II ($5.85 million); Electra European Fund II (EUR 40 million) and BC European Capital VIII (EUR 75 million – follow-on).

Tom Bartlam, founder and managing director of UK-based mezzanine lender Intermediate Capital Group, has announced his retirement, effective this April. He will remain on the ICG board as a non-executive director. www.icgplc.com

Charterhouse Capital Partners is opening an office in France, and has hired former CDC Equity Capital pros Thierry Gisserot and Xavier Thoumieux as the partners in charge. www.charterhouse.co.uk

THURSDAY, JANUARY 28

Where Do I Sign?

The Blackstone Group is expected to launch an $8 billion fund-raising drive later this year (or perhaps $8.01 billion to top Warburg Pincus), and I have just one message for them: Count me in!

Forget journalistic integrity or independence. I’m willing to sell out for a profit, and become the private equity market’s version of Armstrong Williams or Maggie Gallagher. Please also make sure to cross out those obscure “minimum investment” and “accredited investor” provisions, or maybe just ask Steve Schwarzman to loan me a few million bucks – I’ll be good for it.

Why would I give it all up for a piece of Blackstone V? Because there is no other private equity firm on the planet that returns money – and huge amounts of it – so quickly to limited partners. The latest example is New Skies Satellites, which has filed to raise a $350 million IPO after being bought by Blackstone last November. The financial details vis-a-vis Blackstone aren’t all clear yet (company didn’t even list a proposed NYSE ticker symbol), but it’s safe to assume that LPs will get back a bunch of their initial investment (most likely via dividends and high-yield debt), and keep a significant stake in publicly-traded New Skies. Why? Because that’s what has happened with other recent IPOs for companies that Blackstone had acquired just months before. Remember Nalco? Or TRW Automotive? Or (most likely) the upcoming Celanese offering?

There are not many three or five-year waiting periods with Blackstone. In fact, they may be the private equity firm best suited for greater performance disclosure, since the J-curve often doesn’t apply.

Now Blackstone certainly has its critics in this regard, including those who suggest that it is becoming more a financial engineering firm than a pure private equity firm that can serve as a (non-monetary) value-added partner. But that will not be my problem as a limited partner in Blackstone V – it will be someone else’s. So just send over the papers Steve, and I’ll write the check.

Unrelated: Yes, “c’est la vie” was painfully misspelled yesterday. I blame my decision in the seventh grade to learn Spanish instead of learning French. All apologies, and thanks to the dozens of you who wrote in to correct me.

New Skies Satellites Holdings Ltd. has filed to raise $350 million via an IPO on the NYSE. The Bermuda-based communications satellite operator was acquired late last year by The Blackstone Group. www.newskies.com

Paymetric Inc., a Houston, Texas-based provider of SAP-integrated payment card solutions, has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Austin Ventures. John Thornton and Michael Rovner, a general partners and principal, respectively, with Austin Ventures have joined the Paymetric board in conjunction with the funding. www.paymetric.com

Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Inc. has secured $1.45 billion in limited partner commitments for its seventh fund, according to a regulatory filing. The firm is hoping to raise a total of $3.5 billion, with CSFB serving as placement agent. www.cdr-inc.com

ApNano Materials Inc., a New York-based provider of nanotechnology-based products, has raised $5 million in second-round funding from unnamed European investors. The company also plans to secure an additional $1 million, bring the round total to $6 million at a post-money valuation of $22 million. The company had raised $3 million in first-round funding in April 2002 from Newton Technology VC Fund. www.apnano.com

PatchLink Corp., a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based provider of security patch and vulnerability management software and services, has raised $5 million in additional Series B funding led by Granite Global Ventures. The round total now stands at $35 million, including past Series b investment from BA Venture Partners, Bay Partners and the Government of Singapore Investment Corp. In other PatchLink news, the company has named former Musicmatch CFO Gary Acord as its new CFO. www.patchlink.com

Verimatrix Corp., a San Diego-based developer of content protection and security solutions, has received an undisclosed amount of strategic funding led by Mission Ventures and Siemens Venture Capital. Unnamed return backers also participated. www.verimatrix.com

Teradici Corp., a British Columbia, Canada-based fabless semiconductor company, has closed out its initial funding round at US$10 million, thanks to an investment from Alta Berkeley. Previous backers on the round had included GrowthWorks Capitasl, Business Development Bank of Canada and Skypoint Capital. www.teradici.com

Synchron Inc., a San Mateo, Calif.-based provider of policy-based IT automation, has raised $5 million in new funding led by Sigma Partners. www.synchron.com

Apprise Media LLC, a niche media platform sponsored by Spectrum Equity Investors, has acquired Beckett Publications, a Dallas-based publisher of sports and entertainment market collectable guides (including trading card pricing guides). No financial terms were disclosed. www.beckett.com

AP Capital Partners of Orlando, Fla. has agreed to acquire ZeroChaos Inc., an Orlando-based provider of contingent workforce compliance and management services. No financial terms were disclosed, except that Banyan Mezzanine Fund is providing mezzanine debt financing. www.zerochaos.com

Liberty Group Publishing Inc., a Northbrook, Ill.-based publishing company owned by Leonard Green & Partners, has opted for a recapitalization over a sale, according to The Deal. It has hired Wells Fargo & Co., which soon will launch a $330 million senior secured credit facility. Once the recap is completed, Leonard Green will retain more than 90% ownership. www.liberty-group.com

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Goldman Sachs reportedly have sold their remaining shares in publicly-traded German cash-machine manufacturer Wincor Nixdorf AG for EUR 333.5 million (EUR 60 per share). The two firms had sponsored a 1999 management buyout of Wincor Nixdorf from Siemens, and floated the company last year at EUR 41 per share. www.wincor-nixdorf.com

FTD Group Inc., a Downers Grove, Ill.-based provider of floral products, has reduced the number of shares it plans to offer in its IPO from 15.38 million to 13.1 million. Its proposed $12-$14 offering price range will remain the same. Leonard Green & Partners acquired FTD last year in a public-to-private transaction worth approximately $420 million. www.ftd.com

Nextest Systems Corp., a San Jose, Calif.-based developer of automated testing equipment for the semiconductor industry, has withdrawn plans for a $90 million IPO, citing current market conditions. Significant shareholders include Needham Capital Partners and J&W Seligman & Co. www.nextest.com

PanAmSat Holding Corp., a Wilton, Conn.-based provider of satellite communications services, plans to trade its common stock on the NYSE under proposed ticker symbol PA. The company is in registration for a $1.12 billion IPO, and has been controlled since last year by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., The Carlyle Group and Providence Equity Partners.

BridgeCom Holdings Inc. of Valhalla, N.Y. has completed its merger with Broadview Networks Holdings Inc. of New York thus creating a communications networking company whose footprint spans seven Northeastern states. No financial terms were disclosed. The company’s board will include reps from existing institutional investors like MCG Capital Corp., Baker Capital and New Enterprise Associates. www.bridgecom.com www.broadviewnet.com

Zi Corp. (Nasdaq: ZICA) has acquired the assets and intellectual property of Decuma AB, a Swedish provider of intelligent interface solutions. The deal was valued at $1 million in Zi Corp. stock. Decuma had raised over $5 million in VC funding since its 1999 inception, from groups like Olicom AS and the Swedish Industrial Development Fund. www.zicorp.com

Online Resources Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCC) has acquired Incurrent Solutions, a Parsippany, N.J.-based developer of Web-based services for the global credit card industry. The deal was valued at $15.3 million, including $8 million in cash and one million shares of Online Resources common stock. Incurrent had raised approximately $8 million in VC funding from Edison Venture Fund, PA Early Stage, New Jersey Technology Counsel and Knickerbocker LLC. www.incurrent.com

Genetronics Biomedical Corp. (AMEX: GEB) has acquired Inovio AS, an Oslo, Norway-based gene delivery technology company. The deal is valued at $10 million, including $3 million in cash and $7 million in Genetronics stock. Additional shares could be granted, given the achievement of certain milestones. Inovio had raised VC funding from Teknoinvest Management AS. www.genetronics.com www.inovio.com

Montagu Newhall Associates has closed its second venture capital fund-of-funds with $156 million in limited partner commitments. Investors included British Petroleum, Mercantile Bancshares Corp. and Wasatch Advisors. The fund already has made commitments to new vehicles from firms like Abingworth Management Accel Partners, Domain Associates, New Enterprise Associates, TA Associates, Technology Crossover Ventures and Venrock Associates. www.montagunewhall.com

The Industrial Bank of Korea plans to launch a private equity fund next month to invest in small- and mid-sized companies, according to the Yohap News Agency. The fund would manage 100 million won (US$96.8 million), and done in partnership with Korean venture firm KTB Network.

Highland Capital Partners has promoted Richard de Silva to the position of principal. He joined the firm in April 2003, after having served as co-founder and president of SiteBurst, an enterprise software company focused on channel management solutions. www.hcp.com

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 27

You’ve Been Served

At last year’s Merrill Lynch CFO conference, I listened to a panel of attorneys talk about the myriad of private equity-related lawsuits that get filed each year. For example, were you aware that there have been legal proceedings after a se*ual affair between a GP and an LP went bad? Or after a similar relationship fizzled between two GPs, and one was subsequently booted from the firm? Well, maybe you did, but I’m innocent to such things (although not averse to hearing every sleazy detail, were they to be anonymously sent my way). Anyway, one of the main points was that almost all of these issues – personal or strictly professional – get settled very quietly, without the universal we knowing about it.

The exception, however, is when portfolio companies or portfolio company founders feel like they got taken. In those cases, press releases fly and plaintiffs are almost desperately available for interviews (defendants mostly hole up in a dark cave). The example getting lots of press today is that three of the five Epinions.com founders have sued venture backers Bill Gurley of Benchmark Capital and John Johnson of August Capital, plus a fellow founder (Nirav Tolia). The gist is that the three founders – who already had left the company — gave their approval to a February 2003 merger with DealTime, which they were told would value Epinions at between $23 million and $38 million. The deal made the trio’s stock virtually worthless, with all recouped capital going to investors Benchmark Capital and August Capital. Se la vie.

The problem, according to the complaint, however, is that Epinions was actually worth far more than the three founders were led to believe, due, in part, to a pending deal with Google that they were not told about. More importantly, the defendants received equity in the newly-combined company (named Shopping.com), whereas the three founders did not (as they had been told their shares were worthless). In all, the plaintiffs claim they were ripped off by about $40 million. Shopping.com, of course, is denying any allegations of wrongdoing. Go to www.SiliconBeat.com for more info, including a copy of the actual complaint and a link to the original NY Times scoop. If August Capital-operated VentureBlog chimes in on the matter, I’ll be sure to let you know (don’t hold your breath).

Also on the lawsuit front is a case just filed by the founders of San Diego-based Ticket Innovations Inc. (a.k.a. Season Ticket Solutions), which had pioneered the technology that allows sports team season ticket holders to electronically transfer individual game tickets to other folks via a bar code system. The company had raised just over $5 million in venture funding as of August 2001, and was prepping another round targeted at between $1.5 million and $2.5 million (enough working capital to last through the following year). It also had contracts with a few pro sports teams, and had preliminary agreements with both the NBA and NHL. Before it could complete the deal, however, Ticketmaster swooped in, and offered to buy the company outright. “When Ticketmaster calls, you listen,” says Tagg Romney, co-founder of Season Ticket and, yes, son of Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney.

What Ticketmaster allegedly refused to do, however, was sign a binding agreement. Season Ticket nonetheless operated under the assumption that it would be bought. In the meantime, Ticketmaster allegedly called both the NBA and NHL, telling them to cancel further talks with Season Tickets due to the pending sale (Romney says his company only learned of this from the NHL itself, not from Ticketmaster). Soon after, however, rescinded its buyout offer and came out with a pair of suspiciously similar products.

The dual moves basically crippled Season Tickets, which later sold its remaining – and nearly worthless assets – for a bag of peanuts. Over three years later, Romney and company are suing Ticketmaster in a California court for breach of non-disclosure agreements and misappropriation of trade secrets. It is not asking for specific damages (per California court rules), but Romney is hoping for a verdict of approximately $100 million, based on a recent ruling in a similar sort of case.

Two interesting cases, which should provide some grist for this mill over the next several months.

Protein Design Labs Inc. (Nasdaq: PDLI) has agreed to acquire Edison, N.J.-based drug company ESP Pharma Inc. for approximately $475 million, including $300 million in cash and around $175 million in PDL common stock. In addition, PDL will assume approximately $14 million in net debt. ESP Pharma has raised over $48 million in VC funding since its April 2002 inception, including a $20 million Series B round in early 2003 at a post-money valuation of approximately $80 million. Company shareholders include Apax Partners, Domain Associates, New Enterprise Associates and Thoma Cressey Equity Partners. www.pdl.com www.esppharma.com

Ripplewood Holdings LLC has completed its acquisition of the electrical power system assets of Alcatel (NYSE: ALA). No financial terms were disclosed. The assets include AEG SVS Power Supply Systems, Alcatel Converters, Harmer & Simmons and Saft Power Systems. The business lines employ a combined 1,300 people in 16 countries. No financial terms were disclosed on the transaction, which is expected to close sometime next quarter. www.alcatel.com

Matrix Partners, a U.S.-based venture firm with offices in both Waltham, Mass. and Menlo Park, Calif., reportedly has opened a satellite office in Bangalore, India. The new office will be used to make investments in Indian companies, and also to help U.S. portfolio companies expand or establish their Indian presence. www.matrixpartners.com

CSG Solar AG, a German developer of thin-film solar-module technology, has raised EUR 24 million in new venture funding. Apax Partners and Good Energies co-led the deal, and were joined by return backers Q-Cells AG, Renewable Energy Corp. and IBG. www.csgsolar.com.au

EnerNOC Inc., a Boston-based provider of demand response and energy management solutions, has raised over $7.75 million in Series B funding. Foundation Capital led the deal, and was joined by first-round backers Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Braemar Energy Ventures and DFJ New England. Adam Grosser, a general partner with Foundation
Capital, has joined the EnerNOC board of directors, in conjunction with the funding. www.enernoc.com

LiteScape Technologies Inc., a Foster City, Calif.-based provider of VoIP-enabled business applications software, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding. Softbank Capital and Telesoft Partners co-led the deal, and were joined by Blumberg Capital and several unnamed angels. www.litescape.com

HyperBranch Medical Technology Inc., a Raleigh, N.C.-based medical device company focused on ocular surgery, has raised $6 million in Series A funding. The Aurora Funds led the round, and was joined by H.I.G. Ventures. www.hyperbranch.com

Plastic Logic Ltd., a Cambridge, UK-based developer of plastic electronics technology, has held an $8 million first close on its second round of institutional funding. New investors included Siemens Venture Capital and Nanotech Partners (nanotech fund established by Mitsubishi Corp.). The entire deal is targeted at $25 million. www.plasticlogic.co.uk

Incipient Inc., a Waltham, Mass.-based provider of switch-resident storage software, has raised $20 million in Series C funding. GrandBanks Capital led the deal, and was joined by return backers Globespan Capital Partners, Greylock, HLM Venture Partners and Sigma Partners. www.incipient.com

OpGen Inc., a Madison, Wis.-based commercializer of single molecule DNA analysis technology, has closed its Series B funding round with $5 million. Investors included Mason Wells Biomedical Fund, Stonehenge Capital, The State of Wisconsin Investment Board and The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).www.opgen.com

The European Union Commission has approved the $1.35 billion buyout of Telcordia Technologies Inc. by Warburg Pincus and Providence Equity Partners. The Piscataway, N.J.-based telecom software company was originally formed by AT&T, and sold for $700 million to Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) in 1999. www.telcordia.com

PinkRoccade NV, a Dutch information services technology company, has received buyout interest from an unnamed U.S. private equity firm, according to Dow Jones. It is unlikely, however, that the firm will top an existing Euro 350 million cash bid from Getronics NV.

Gryphon Colleges Corp., a for-profit secondary education platform formed last year by Gryphon Investors, has acquired National Career Education, a holding company for post-secondary schools in the Western U.S., including NCE College, Lamson College, Institute for Business and Technology and Tuscan College. No deal terms were disclosed. www.gryphon-inv.com

GFI Group Inc., a New York-based inter-dealer broker specializing in over-the-counter derivatives, priced over 5.86 million common shares at $21 per share (above its $18-$20 offering range), for an IPO take of approximately $123 million. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol GFIG. Significant shareholders include Advent International, Venturion Capital and 3i Group. www.gfigroup.com

Emageon Inc., a Birmingham, Ala.-based provider of IT solutions for the clinical analysis and management of digital medical images within healthcare provider groups, has set its IPO terms to five million common shares being offered at between $13 and $15 per share. The company has raised venture capital funding from such firms as Southeastern Management Co., Aurora Funds, Paradigm Venture Partners and Greystone Capital Partners. www.emageon.com

Prestige Brands Holdings Inc., an Irvington, N.Y.-based provider of over-the-counter drugs, personal care products and household cleaning products (including Comet), has set its proposed IPO terms to over 23.33 million common shares being offered at between $14 and $16 per share. The company was launched as a consumer products acquisition platform in 1999 by MidOcean Partners, which later sold it to current majority shareholder GTCR Golder-Rauner. www.prestigebrands.com

Motient Corp. is looking to take a majority position on Mobile Satellite Ventures LP, a Reston, Va.-based company formed in 2001 by combining the satellite businesses of TMI Communications and Motient, according to The Deal. Motient last fall raised its equity ownership from 29.5% to 38.6% via a $125 million investment, while other current shareholders include Columbia Capital, Spectrum Equity Investors and Telcom Ventures. www.mvslp.com

Qpass Inc., a Seattle-based provider of digital media software, has acquired UCP Morgan, a Vienna, Austria-based provider of content delivery software for network operators, portals and content providers. No financial terms were disclosed. Qpass has raised over $100 million in VC funding since its 1997 inception, from groups like Accenture Technology Ventures, American Express, Dali, Hook Partners, Granite Global Ventures, Integral Capital Partners, J&W Seligman, Oak Investment Partners, Seapoint Ventures, RRE Ventures and Venrock Associates. www.qpass.com www.ucpmorgan.com

ProSavvy Inc. of Englewood, Colo. has agreed to merge with eWork of San Francisco, to form a company that will provide integrated contract services-related solutions, including sourcing and outsourced back-office payment solutions. ProSavvy is backed by Mobius Venture Capital and Pequot Capital Management, while eWork has raised venture capital from DB Investor, Ecompanies, ETF Group and Telia Business Innovation. www.prosavvy.com www.ework.com

Oak Hill Capital Partners is raising its second buyout fund with a maximum capitalization of $2.5 billion, according to a regulatory filing. Credit Suisse First Boston is serving as placement agent. www.oakhillcapital.com

The Carlyle Group is raising its fourth non-European real estate private equity fund with a $600 million target, according to a regulatory filing.

Prism Venture Partners of Westwood, Mass. is raising its fifth fund with a $400 million target, and already has secured over $103 million in limited partner commitments, according to a regulatory filing. www.prismventure.com

3i Group is planning to move its headquarters from Waterloo to more upscale digs in Central London, according to The Times of London.

Melinda Brown has joined law firm Gadsby Hannah LLP as a partner, after having served as vice president and general counsel for Sonus Networks Inc. www.ghlaw.com

TUESDAY, JANUARY 26

Random Ramblings

When I (finally) arrived at my New York hotel yesterday afternoon, my email inbox had 231 messages. A goodly portion was sp*m and out-of-office replies to yesterday’s Wire, but a sizable percentage also was from Wharton MBA candidates either commenting on last Friday’s panel discussion or simply introducing themselves. It’s this second group that I’d like to briefly discuss, as almost all of them included a variation on the “How do I get a job in private equity” theme. In fact, it was the second most-asked question of me while in Philly (“How’s the Pontiac?” always ranks first).

My basic answer is that it is a crapshoot, assuming that you are looking for something with partner-track potential. Perhaps that’s not a terribly inspiring response, but it seems to be the best one available. This isn’t to say that MBA degrees, summer analyst experience or operating backgrounds don’t all help – they do. The reality, however, is that none of them are even close to guarantees. I have known a large number of folks with great pedigrees who either are unable to even get their foot in the door, or realize too late that their chosen door leads to a brick wall. For MBAs (since they asked), the key seems to be not how much attention you paid to your studies, but how well you networked during guest lectures or events like the one last Friday. Find a sugar daddy, and hold him tight.

One other option is to quit your current aspirations and become a journalist. Sure the pay is  lousy – and far more VCs and private equity pros have come out of the high-tech or biotech ranks — but onetime journalists like Mike Moritz and Stuart Alsop have showed an uncanny knack for getting into the market and becoming wildly successful. Even I’ve been approached for a few VC gigs, but have stuck to my rule that any firm that would hire me isn’t a firm for which I would want to work.

Anyway, we’ll return to this topic a bit later with some actual professional advice from an industry recruiter. We also may do another internship drive next month but please do not send in any resumes yet. Until then, some interesting — and unrelated – reading here, here and here.

Predix Pharmaceuticals Inc., a Woburn, Mass.-based clinical-stage drug discovery and development company, has raised $43 million in Series C funding. Forward Ventures, Boston Millennia Partners and CMEA Ventures co-led the round, and were joined by Novel Bioventures, Yamanouchi Venture Capital, Yasuda and JAFCO Ventures. Return backers included OrbiMed Advisors, S.R. One, Yozma Group, International Life Science Partners and PA Consulting. www.predixpharm.com

Bear Stearns Merchant Banking has formed an alliance with financial services industry veteran Daniel Porter to pursue investment opportunities in the financial services arena, with a particular emphasis on consumer finance opportunities. Porter most recently served as Chairman and CEO of WMC Mortgage, which was recently acquired by GE Capital, and as CEO of Wells Fargo Financial Services, a division of Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE: WFC). No financial terms of the arrangement have been disclosed. www.bsmb.com

Medifacts International, a Rockville, Md.-based provider of clinical trial management, consulting and cardiac safety research services, has raised $16 million in Series A funding at a post-money valuation of approximately $59 million. Investors included Ampersand Ventures and Schroder Ventures Life Sciences. www.medifacts.com

Venturi Wireless Inc., a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based provider of wireless network optimization solutions, has raised $10 million in Series C funding at a post-money valuation of approximately $37 million. InterWest Partners led the deal, and was joined by the Intel Communications Fund and return backers Novus Ventures, Horizon Ventures and Storm Ventures. www.venturiwireless.com

Medsphere Systems Corp., an Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based provider of electronic health record solutions, has raised $7.5 million in Series B funding. Azure Capital Partners led the deal, and was joined by return backers Thomas Weisel Venture Partners and Wasatch Venture Fund. In other Medsphere news, the company named Larry Augustin as its new CEO. He previously served as a venture partner with Azure. www.medsphere.com

Lumus Ltd., an Israel-based developer of a light-guide optical element, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series B funding. Motorola Ventures led the deal, and was joined by Jerusalem Global Ventures. www.lumusvision.com

AirMagnet Inc., a Mountain View, Calif.-based provider of WLAN security and performance solutions, has received an undisclosed amount of strategic funding from the Intel Communications Fund. www.airmagnet.com

PhoneBites, a San Francisco-based mobile entertainment and technology company, has received $3 million in Series A funding from Siemens Mobile Acceleration, Cardinal Venture Capital and Garage Technology Ventures. www.phonebites.com

Health Market Science, a King of Prussia, Pa.-based provider of business intelligence solutions to the healthcare and pharmaceutical markets, has received a $4.25 million investment from Edison Venture Fund. www.healthmarketscience.com

B&W TEK Inc., a Newark, Del.-based manufacturer of analytical spectrometers, spectroscopic lasers, and medical lasers, has received an undisclosed amount of private equity funding from Summit Partners.

TimeSpring Software Corp., a Montreal-based provider of continuous data protection software, has raised Cdn$14 million in Series A funding. Ventures West led the round, and was joined by Desjardins Venture Capital, BDC Venture Capital and Capvest. www.timespring.com

Vestar Capital Partners has agreed to acquire Italian cured meats producer Cesare Fiorucci SpA from Cavaliere del Lavoro Ferruccio Fiorucci and his family. The dea