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PE Week Wire — Friday, March 18

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Not too much going on this morning, so just a few quick notes to kick off the weekend (I couldn’t even come up with a column title):

** You may have noticed that some press reports are still valuing the Toys “R” Us buyout at $5.75 billion, instead of at $6.6 billion. The confusion comes from the fact that the company is selling all 215 million outstanding common shares at $26.75 per share, which comes out to just over $5.75 billion. What that figure doesn’t include, however, are options, equity security units and other goodies that bring the total cash purchase price to $6.6 billion. Sorry for not explaining this yesterday.

**I expanded yesterday’s column on biotech IPOs into a print piece for next Monday’s PE Week, which means that I did a bit more math. Among my findings: 46 VC-backed life sciences IPOs went public on U.S. exchanges in 2004, with 24 trading above their offering price as of market close this past Wednesday (while another was trading even). When all 46 are taken into account, the non-weighted average aftermarket performance is +6.33%. As of today, there are 19 such companies sitting in registration. Anyway, a response to that column (and some additional analysis) can be found on BusinessWeek‘s Deal Flow blog.

**Speaking of blogs, how come all the VC-authored ones seem to be from tech-focused inv*stors? Is there a biotech-focused VC blog? If so, please provide directions.

**I somehow forgot to mention this: PE Week reported a few weeks ago that Walden International has decided to inv*st exclusively in semiconductor deal. More on this also can be found in an extensive Q&A with Walden chief Lip-Bu Tan in the current issue of Venture Capital Journal.

**Finally, the first day of NCAA Tourney play is over, which means that we have our first leader. Congratulations (for now) to Hunter McCrossin of the Duke Management Co., who correctly picked 15 of the 16 games. Which one did he miss? Utah over UTEP.

Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, Eurazeo and Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity have completed their 3.7 billion euros acquisition of a 98.5% stake in Rexel SA, a France-based wholesale distributor of electric products. The buyers say that the deal is the largest public-to-private transaction ever completed in Europe.

JPMorgan Partners has sold Grupo Comercial e Industrial Marzam SA de CV to a group of private Mexican buyers led by Joseph Sitt. No financial terms were disclosed. Grupo Marzam is a Mexico City-based wholesale distributor of pharmaceutical products in Mexico, and was acquired by JPMorgan Partners in early 2002.

SpinalMotion Inc., a Mountain View, Calif.-based developer of artificial spinal disks, has raised $20.11 million in Series B funding, according to a regulatory filing. Participants included Three Arch Partners and Thomas Weisel Healthcare Venture Partners.

OuterBay Technologies Inc., a Cupertino, Calif.-based provider of information lifecycle management solutions for applications and databases, announced that it has raised $12 million in Series C funding (deal actually closed last December). Focus Ventures led the round with a $4.2 million infusion, and was joined by return backers BA Venture Partners, LeapFrog Ventures, Mayfield and Redpoint Ventures. The company has raised $40 million in total VC funding since its 1999 inception, including an $8 million Series B deal in 2003 at a post-money valuation of approximately $50 million., a Chinese WAP portal operator, has received an undisclosed amount of venture funding from IDG Ventures, according to Chinese news reports.

Transparency Software Inc., a Menlo Park, Calif.-based provider of database monitoring solutions, has raised $6 million in first-round funding from Pitango Venture Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners. The company maintains an R&D facility in Israel.

Thoma Cressey Equity Partners and Trident Capital are sponsoring a management buyout of Datatel Inc., a Fairfax, Va.-based provider of enterprise information management solutions for higher education institutions. No financial terms were disclosed.

Whitney & Co. and Clearview Capital have agreed to sell Compression Polymers Holdings LLC to AEA Inv*stors Inc. No financial terms were disclosed. Compression Polymers is a Moosic, Pa.-based maker of engineered extruded plastic sheet products, used primarily as replacements for wood and metal.

PAI Partners has agreed to sell French pasta and sauce maker Panzani to Spanish food company Ebro Puleva for nearly 650 million euros.

The Carlyle Group is part of a consortium that may be bidding on a 40% stake in Taiwan-based Chang Hwa Commercial Bank Ltd., according to The Wall Street Journal. The group also is reported to include Lone Star Funds and ING Group, while a competing offer could come from either Shinsei Bank Ltd. or Cerbeus Capital Management. Chang Hwa has a market capitalization of approximately $3.3 billion, and would be the first Taiwanese bank controlled by foreigners.

Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst has recouped 80% of its inv*stment in Greeley, Colo.-based meat processor Swift Foods, via a $136 million dividend, according to PrivateEquityOnline. A second dividend worth $8 million in expected to follow.

FreightCar America Inc., a Chicago-based maker of railroad freight cars, has set its proposed IPO terms to six million common shares being offered at between $16 and $18 per share, according to Reuters. The company traces its roots back to 1901, and was owned by Bethlehem Steep Corp. from 1923 to 1991. It then was purchased by Johnstown America Industries (now known as TTII), and resold in June 1999 to an investor group that included company management, Trimaran Capital Partners and John Hancock Life Insurance Co.

Alphyra Group, an Ireland-based, has acquired UK electronic payment processor PostTS for 85 million euros. Alphyra is controlled by Benchmark Capital Europe.

Internet Commerce Corp. (Nasdaq: ICCA) has acquired the managed EC business of Inovis USA Inc., an Alpharetta, Ga.-based B2B services provider controlled by Golden Gate Capital and Cerberus Capital Management. No deal terms were disclosed.

Ewing Bemiss & Co., a Richmond, Va.-based I-bank focused on the middle-markets, has promoted both Keith Mumford and James McGrath to the position of vice president. Mumford specializes in private placement and M&A services, while McGrath specializes in private placement and M&A services to companies in the business and technology services

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) elected Charles Valdes as chair of its inv*stment committee, and Geoge Diehr as vice chair. Valdes has been a CalPERS board member since 1984, and is an attorney with the California Department of Transportation. Diher joined the board in 2003, and is a professor of management sciences at Cal State San Marcos.

Celsius Capital is raising its inaugural fund with a $150 million target, according to this past Monday’s edition of PE Week. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based firm recently was founded by Bill Burnham (formerly a managing director with Mobius Venture Capital) and Carlos Bhola (former president of broadband phone company Vonage). It hopes to close the fund by late July.

Village Ventures is marketing its second fund with a $125 million target, according to this past Monday’s edition of PE Week.

Thursday, March 17

What’s So Bad About Biotech IPOs?

Another series of quick notes, before settling in for an afternoon of watching NCAA tourney games work:

TargaCept Inc. pulled its proposed IPO yesterday, citing “difficult market conditions that exist in the life science industry.” For those of you who generally don’t read such documents, the decision to be more descriptive than just “market conditions” is fairly unusual, although regular readers of this space know that there has been a bubbling debate about the life sciences IPO space (Is a sub-$75 million IPO worthwhile given Sarbanes-Oxley costs of $1 million to $2 million per year? Are public-market life sciences valuations still preferable to private-market life sciences valuations? Etc.), with BusinessWeek‘s Sarah Lacy pursuing the topic with particular vigor and pessimism.

In order to get a bit more insight, I spoke this morning with Alan Musso, vice president and chief financial officer of TargaCept. It might just be me, but he seemed kind of pleased to take a press call (quiet periods can be tough for folks who like to promote their company). Anyway, I asked if he could pinpoint the “difficult market conditions that exist in the life science industry.” He responded by saying that most recent biotech IPOs priced below their offering range and, more importantly from an institutional buyer’s perspective, they have not performed well in the aftermarket. For what it’s worth, here’s the VC-backed batch from 2005, along with their offering price, yesterday’s closing price and the percentage difference:

·          Viacell; $7; $8.43; 20.42%

·          Favrille; $7; $6; -14.29%

·          Icagen; $8; $7.15; -10.62%

·          Threshhold Pharmaceuticals; $7; $6.06; -13.43%

·          Aspreva Pharmaceuticals; $11; $12.05; 9.55%

The average aftermarket performance for VC-backed life sciences IPOs in 2005, therefore, is -1.67 percent. This obviously isn’t good, but actually is better than is the overall Nasdaq performance in 2005 (-7.34%), and just nominally worse than is the average Dow performance in 2005 (-1.39%). In other words, if institutional buyers are being scared off by aftermarket performance, then they are using crystal balls, because the historical evidence indicates that such companies have been outperforming the index upon which most of them trade. No conclusion here, just an observation. As a quick addendum, Musso says that his company had $50 million in the bank as of year-end 2004, and was not yet planning to raise another round of venture capital funding.

** It seems that all the existing March Madness groups are full, so I’ve created one more for procrastinators: Group ID: 110333 Password: capital. Check Monday’s Wire for entry info, and make sure to send me your team name.

** Testa, Hurwitz & Thibeault has issued its legal response to the eight former partners who filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition against their former firm. Not all that interesting a read, except for the fact that THT has paid off all obligations to its landlord (a.k.a. its biggest creditor). A judge is expected to hear the petition on Monday morning (or at least I hope it’s in the morning, because I do not want to wait around all day).

** Finally, a sad note as former Bay Area venture capitalist David Hurley passed away Saturday from cancer at the age of 69. He is survived by wife Debra, four sons, one daughter and three grandchildren. A memorial service is planned for today at 10:30am at St. Hilary’s Church in Tiburon, Calif.

TorreyPines Therapeutics Inc. (f.k.a. Neurogenetics Inc.), a La Jolla, Calif.-based small molecule drug company focused on central nervous system disorders like migraine headaches and Alzheimer’s disease, has raised $34.8 million in Series C funding. Johnson & Johnson Development Corp. and return backer Alta Partners co-led the round, and were joined by fellow NIF Ventures, Sorrento Ventures, GIMV, Advent International, Novartis Venture Fund and S.R. One. The company has raised over $65 million in total VC funding since its 2000 inception.

Toys ‘R’ Us reportedly has accepted a $5.7 billion buyout offer from consortium that includes Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Bain Capital and Vornado Realty Trust. A losing bid had been submitted by Cerberus, Goldman Sachs and Kimco Realty Trust

PanAmSat Holding Corp., a Wilton, Conn.-based provider of satellite communications services, priced 50 million common shares at $18 per share (below its $19-$21 offering range), for a lower-than-expected IPO take of $900 million. The company has been controlled since last year by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (24.69% post-IPO position, with over-allotment) The Carlyle Group (15.23%) and Providence Equity Partners (15.23%).

Xeround Systems, a Tel Aviv, Israel-based provider of scalable signaling solutions to VoIP carriers, has raised $6.5 million in startup funding from Benchmark Capital and Giza Venture Capital.

Telcontar Inc., a San Jose, Calif.-based provider of location-based solutions for in-vehicle, Internet and wireless platforms, has raised $10.68 million in Series B-1 funding. Norwest Venture Partners was joined on the deal by return backers Mobius Venture Capital, Ford Motor Co. and Cardinal Venture Capital.

IntraLens Vision Inc. (f.k.a. Anamed), a Lake Forest, Calif.-based provider of implantable products to correct and maintain vision, has raised $12 million in Series C funding co-led by Canaan Partners and InterWest Partners co-led the deal.

Genetic Solutions Pty Ltd., a Brisbane, Australia-based genetic information technology company, reportedly has received Au$2.5 million in funding from Sidney-based Nanyang Ventures. AG, a Berling, Germany-based provider of multi-channel commerce solutions has raised its first round of venture capital funding from an unspecified group of Asian inv*stors. No financial terms were disclosed, although The Deal reports that it was worth 15 million euros.

Vanson HaloSource Inc., a Redmond, Wash.-based provider of anti-microbial solutions for patient care and consumer hygiene, has raised $5 million in second-round funding. Return backers include Alexander Hutton Venture Partners and Buerk Dale Victor LLC, while Mars Inc. and WRF Capital also participated.

NewspaperDirect, a Vancouver, Canada-based provider of digital newspaper distribution solutions, has raised Cdn$8.5 million in venture capital funding. Soses Inv*stments led the deal.

OpenLogic Software Inc., a Broomfield, Colo.-based provider of enterprise software and services to enable open source development and deployment environments, has raised $4 million in Series A funding. Participants include Appian Ventures, Red Rock Ventures, Highway 12 Ventures and Village Ventures.

Update: VhaYu Technologies Corp., a Los Gatos, Calif.-based provider of real-time analysis software for the financial industry, has raised $10.25 million in Series C funding from Silicon Valley Bank, Menlo Ventures and DB Capital Partners. Tuesday’s Wire put the deal at just $9 million, and didn’t include SVB.

Duke Street Capital and Englefield Capital have agreed to acquire publicly-traded Cox Insurance Holdings PLC for GBP 296 million. Cox shareholders Warburg Pincus (23.3%) and Palamon European Equity (10.3%) both accepted the bid.

The Carlyle Group has received Hawaii Public Utilities Commission approval for its $1.65 billion acquisition of Verizon Hawaii from Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ), although the Commission insisted that Carlyle provide additional equity so as to improve the equity-to-debt ratio. The deal includes Verizon’s Hawaii-based local telephone operations, plus its print directory, long distance and Internet service provider assets, which reported combined 2003 sales of $610 million. Once complete, Verizon Hawaii will be renamed Hawaiian Telecom.

MidOcean Partners has acquired a majority position in Vitaquest International, a New Jersey-based provider of specialty nutritional products. No financial terms were disclosed

BC Partners and Cinven Group have received European Union Commission approval for their 4.34 billion euros buyout of Amadeus Global Travel Distribution SA, a Spain-based travel reservations company currently is owned by airlines Air France, Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana SA and Deutsche Lufthansa SA.

PAI Partners is nearing an agreement to purchase Italian clothing retailer Gruppo Coin SpA for $463 million, according to The Deal.

Bridgepoint, Benchmark Capital and Allco Finance Group have teamed up to acquire clinical decision support software providers CAS Services Ltd. and MDS International Inc. No financial terms were disclosed.

FastClick Inc., a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based provider of online advertising solutions, has set its proposed IPO terms to 6.5 million common shares being offered at between $12 and $14 per share. It still plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol FSTC. FastClick raised $75 million in Series A funding last September at a post-money valuation of $96.54 million. Round participants included Highland Capital Partners, Oak Inv*stment Partners and Disney corporate venture arm Steamboat Ventures.

TargaCept Inc., a Winston Salem, N.C.-based drug company focused on the central nervous system, has withdrawn its proposed $86.25 million IPO, citing “difficult market conditions that currently exist for initial public offerings in the life sciences industry.” TargaCept has raised over $120 million in VC funding from firms like Nomura Phase4 Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, EuclidSR Partners, Oxford Bioscience Partners, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings, Burrill & Co. and Advent International.

Seacor Holdings Inc. (NYSE: CKH) and Seabulk International Inc. (Nasdaq: SBLK) have signed a definitive merger agreement, to create a combined provider of marine fleet and other offshore services to the oil, gas and chemical industries. The total transaction is valued at $532 million, plus approximately $471 million in net d*bt obligations that will be assumed by Seacor. The deal is being supported by DLJ Merchant Banking Partners and Carlyle/Riverstone Global Energy & Power Fund, which collectively own approximately 75% of Seabulk’s common shares.

Akamai Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: AKAM) has agreed to acquire Speedera Networks Inc., a Santa Clara, Calif.-based provider of distributed application hosting and content delivery services. The stock-for-stock transaction is valued at approximately $130 million, with Akamai issuing approximately 12 million shares of common stock. It is expected to close sometime next quarter. Speedera has raised over $47 million in total venture capital funding since its 1999 inception, from firms like ABS Ventures, Trinity Ventures, Comdisco Ventures, Continuum Group, Banc of America, Industry Ventures, DB Inv*stor, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto Inv*stors and Stanford University.

MAP ROI Systems Inc., a Sterling, Va.-based maker of a system that helps business qualify for, and manage, government contracts, has acquired the assets of Privia Inc., a San Mateo, Calif.-based provider of enterprise software that automates the qualification, development and delivery of commercial bids on large government contracts. No financial terms were disclosed. MAP ROI has raised over $4 million in VC funding since its 2003 inception from The Aurora Funds and Novak Biddle Venture Partners, while Privia has raised over $8 million in venture funding since its 1999 inception, from Benchmark Capital, CAP Ventures and VSP Capital (f.k.a. Venture Strategy Partners).

Clarity Visual Systems Inc., a Wilsonville, Ore.-based , has acquired the CoolSign software and services division of Adspace Networks Inc., a New York-based provider of digital advertising solutions for malls and movie theaters. No deal terms were disclosed. CoolSign provides high-definition digital content for networked digital display systems, and the acquisition includes CoolSign-related assets that include enterprise sales, engineering, and creative and client services teams located in Burlingame, Calif. Clarity Visual has raised $6.5 million in venture capital funding from Needham Capital Partners. Adspace has raised approximately $20 million from AIG Capital Partners, DCM-Doll Capital Management, TWB Inv*stment Partners, Angel Inv*stors LP and Allen & Co.

Epimmune Inc. (Nasdaq: EPMN) has agreed to merge with IDM SA in an all-stock transaction that will result in a San Diego-based company with manufacturing facilities in Irvine, Calif. and Paris, France. IDM develops immunotherapies for cancer, and has received VC funding from Sofinnova Partners, Atlas Venture, Apax Partners, Clal Biotechnology Industries, China Development Corp., Banexi Ventures, XAnge Capital, Alta Partners and JPMorgan Partners.

Allianz AG Holdings says that it plans to continue increasing its private equity exposure over the next three to five years.

Wednesday, March 16

Random Ramblings

Lots of news today, including another social networking deal and the narrowing of buyout bidders for Toys ‘R’ Us (which I never went to as a kid, because we had Spag’s and something called Child World). So just time for a few quick notes:

** We have over 250 players for our March Madness contest, which means that there are just a limited number of spots remaining. If you still want to participate, the most open group ID numbers are 50961 and 50970, both of which use the “capital” password (but without the quotes). Remember, picks must be made before the first game tips off tomorrow at 12:20pm EST.

**An interesting little tidbit from the blogosphere, where SAP Ventures’ Jeff Nolan yesterday noted the irony of Technology Crossover Ventures recently adding anti-spyware company Webroot Inc. to its portfolio, while also maintaining an ownership position in spyware producer Claria Inc. (a.k.a. Gator). For those who don’t remember, Claria withdrew its proposed IPO offering last year, which delighted folks who don’t feel companies should be rewarded for bad behavior. Anyway, Nolan made his quickie blog comment, and TCV took the unusual step of sending out their PR emissaries from Blanc & Otis to respond. Probably makes Jeff feel all warm, fuzzy and self-important but, hey, I guess he deserves it. Quite unusual for a company/firm to formally answer a blog, and perhaps could be opening a whole can of worms that will keep PR firm coffers overflowing for years.

A few quick points on the substance: Matt Marshall of the Mercury News referred to this as a “non-scandal,” and he’s absolutely right. He also got in touch with TCV, which I sincerely appreciate because I was five minutes away from making the same call at the expense of other work. The most interesting part of Marshall’s piece is that Webroot was extremely concerned about letting TCV lead its $108 million Series A deal, because the Claria connection could generate an air of impropriety.

In order to jump the hurdle, TCV offered to remove Claria from the TCV website, which is why you can’t find it there today (fellow Claria backer U.S. Venture Partners has not made a similar move, but it also hasn’t inv*sted in an anti-spyware company). Nolan suggests that this is erasing the past, but I disagree. There is plenty of evidence that TCV is involved with Claria (Venture Expert database, old press releases via Lexis-Nexis, SEC filings), and if website removal is what got the Webroot deal done, so be it. Moreover, I’d almost be more impressed with TCV if they actually had intentionally backed both a spyware and anti-spyware company. Sure it’s cynical, but it’s also creating demand for your portfolio company’s product (kind of like on 24 when the defense contractor tried starting the war by detonating a nuclear bomb in LA, except not nearly so heartless or fictional).

**I had promised myself that I wouldn’t do any more traveling for a few months, but I’ve agreed to serve as a judge (one of twelve) at a prominent southern b-school’s upcoming business plan competition. More info on this as it gets hammered out, but this should be quite enjoyable. Any advice from those who have done this before?

**Morgenthaler will announce tomorrow that it has opened a Boston office, to complement existing offices in Menlo Park, Princeton, N.J., Cleveland and Boulder, Colo. This one will be staffed by general partners Jim Broderick (VC healthcare focus) and Daniel Farrar (mid-market management buyout focused). Both men actually have been working from Boston for several months, but the formal announcement was delayed until Morgenthaler decided on physical office space (which took a while). Rather than going the Waltham route, they ended up at 545 Boylston Street, on the 9th floor.

**The AP just reported that Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz will be nominated by President Bush to take over as head of the World Bank. I’ve heard the rumors for a while, but actual confirmation remains a bit stunning. It’s not that I think Wolfie is a lair (as do many of my friends). In fact, I consider him to be a true believer. The problem is that I consider many of his more well-known beliefs to be absurd, and his foresight to be akin to that of Grady Little. Very disappointing nomination. Hey World Bank readers, what’s your take?

**Finally, a few of you have asked about last Friday’s California court decision that there are reporters should be found liable for publishing a company’s trade secrets. The case specifically dealt with Apple Computer, but could have far-reaching consequences. After all, any time this space prints a previously-undisclosed company valuation or VC firm partner defection, couldn’t it arguably could be considered trade secret (seems that California’s shield rule only applies to political and sports reporters)? In fact, isn’t uncovering trade secrets a large part of what business journalists are paid to do? Troubling ruling, but here’s hoping for a successful appeal.

Providence Equity Partners and Warburg Pincus have completed their $1.35 billion buyout of Telcordia Technologies Inc., a Piscataway, N.J.-based telecom software company originally formed by AT&T, and then sold in 1999 for $700 million to Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC). The deal was partially financed by a sale-leaseback transaction, in which W.P. Carey & Co. acquired Telcordia’s Piscataway office campus for $114 million

KaloBios Pharmaceuticals Inc., a Palo Alto, Calif.-based developer of therapeutic antibodies, has raised $20 million in Series B funding at a post-money valuation of approximately $27 million. MPM Capital and GBS Venture Partners co-led the deal, and were joined by Lotus BioScience Ventures and return backers Sofinnova Ventures, Alloy Ventures, 5AM Ventures and Singapore BioInnovations Pte. Ltd.

Weston Presidio has received $819.92 million in limited partner commitments for its fifth fund, according to a regulatory filing. The San Francisco-based private equity firm is looking for upwards of $1 billion.

MySpace Inc., a Santa Monica, Calif.-based social networking company, has raised $37.79 million in Series A funding at a post-money valuation of approximately $44.23 million, according to a regulatory filing. Redpoint Ventures and Intermix Media Inc. participated on the deal.

Masergy Communications Inc., a Palno, Texas-based provider of application performance solutions for converged enterprise networks, has raised $30 million in Series C funding. WestAM led the deal, and was joined by return backers Centennial Ventures and Meritage Private Equity Funds. Masergy also announced that it has received a $15 million line of credit from Comerica Bank.

BuySafe Inc., an Arlington, Va.-based e-commerce and auction bonding services, has raised $13.25 million in Series B funding. Grotech Capital Group and Core Capital Partners co-led the deal, and were joined by return backers Hartford Ventures and Thomas Rutherfoord Inc.

Masergy Communications Inc., a Plano, Texas-based provider of application performance solutions for converged enterprise networks, has raised $30 million in Series C funding. WestAM led the deal, while return backers included Centennial Ventures and Meritage Private Equity. In other Masergy news, the company has received a $15 million line of cr*dit from Comerica Bank.

Soleil Securities Group Inc., a New York-based aggregator of independent equities research and brokerage services, has raised $11 million in Series 2-R convertible preferred stock. Bain Capital Ventures led the deal, and was joined by return backers like Bessemer Venture Partners and Bessec Ventures.

RLX Technologies Inc., a The Woodlands, Texas-based provider of heterogeneous server management solutions, has raised $9.1 million in Series 1 recap funding. Ignition LLC led the deal, and was joined by Austin Ventures, GM Capital Partners, Sternhill Partners, Soros Private Equity Investors LP, and Cockrell Investment Partners. RLX has raised over $90 million in total VC funding since its 2001 inception. It also announced that it has signed an OEM agreement with Nexcom.

Akira Technologies Inc., a San Francisco-based developer of publishing applications for wireless networks and devices, has raised $2 million in a first close on its Series A funding round. Labrador Ventures led the deal, and was joined by Parker Price Venture Capital.

IXI Mobile Inc., a Redwood City, Calif.-based provider of phone operating system software and mass-market messaging devices, has received an undisclosed amount of funding from Concord Ventures. The company previously had raised over $60 million in venture capital from such groups as Gemini Capital Fund Management, T1 Ventures, Intel Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and China Development Industrial Bank.

KKR and Cerberus are the two remaining bidders for Wayne, N.J.-based Toys ‘R’ Us (NYSE: TOY), according to multiple press reports. Both firms are interested in buying the entire company with bids reported to be over $5.5 billion (over $5.7 billion, according to Reuters). Toys ‘R’ Us originally planned to retain its Babies ‘R’ Us division, but instead will accept one of the two offers. Cerberus has teamed up on its deal with Goldman Sachs and Kimco Realty Trust, while it is not clear who, if anyone, KKR has teamed with.

Neiman Marcus Group has put itself on the block for upwards of $5 billion, according to The New York Post. The upscale retailer reportedly has approached several strategic buyers, plus private equity firms like Apollo Management and Leonard Green & Partners. Goldman Sachs will be running the sale.

Corporacion Financiera Alba SA, Omega Capital and Mercapital reportedly have withdrawn their buyout offer for Spain-based airport retailer Aldeasa SA. A competing bid from Advent International is believed to still be on the table.maker British Vita, which had previously declined to open its books.

Aviza Technology Inc., a Scotts Valley, Calif.-based supplier of thermal process and atomic layer deposition systems, has agreed to merge with Trikon Technologies (Nasdaq: TRKN), a UK-based provider of plasma etching and deposition systems for the global semiconductor industry. The two companies had combined 2004 revenue of approximately $160 million, and employed 700 people. Under terms of the merger agreement, the combined company will be known as Aviza Technology Inc., and will trade on the Nasdaq. VantagePoint Venture Partners, the largest current Aviza shareholder, will own a 50% stake in the combined company.

Irdeto Holdings BV, a subsidiary of Naspers (Nasdaq: NPSN), has acquired LockStream Inc., a Seattle-based provider of mobile digital rights management software. No deal terms were disclosed. LockStream has raised over $15 million in VC funding from such firms as Audax Group, AOL Time Warner, Artisan Digital Media, ING Barings Private Equity and Encore Venture Partners.