PE Week Wire — Friday, March 4

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21,000 and Counting…

Every time the PE Week Wire adds another thousand subscribers (we hit 21,000 yesterday), I like to remind you that this free service is just a tasty sampling of the 8-course feast that is Private Equity Week. To get access to all the trimmings, however, you need to become a paid subscriber. So take out that corporate card and sign up today. Paid subscribers get a weekly print publication and unlimited access to our website’s protected sections, within which you’ll find in-depth deal news, fund news, market analysis and proprietary data. So just click the “Subscribe” button at the right-hand side of this email, or email Rob Mills.

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Bain Capital & The NHL
A bunch of industry folks seem to be wondering why Bain Capital would be interested in buying the currently-crippled National Hockey League. Or, as Dave Perkins of the Toronto Star wrote yesterday: “There is no suggestion that the Boston-based firm of Bain Capital Partners LLC intends those last three letters to stand for ‘Let’s Lose Cash.’ But, geez, didn’t these guys read the Arthur Leavitt Report?”

Good question Dave, but I think Bain might be on to something here. This isn’t an attempt to buy the NHL, and then to keep running it as currently constituted. Instead, it is an attempt to buy, and then to restructure, an organization whose great product has been nearly destroyed by inept management. Fix the management, and what you’re left with is the great product.

Bain and the NHL first had informal discussions about some sort of financial deal around five months ago, when most folks still believed that there would be an abbreviated 2004-2005 season. This week’s presentation before NHL owners was obviously more specific – including the much-reported $3.5 billion offering price – but really was viewed by Bain as a conceptual framework rather than a hard-and-fast bid. Mark Ganis, president of Chicago-based SportsCorp, says that $3.5 billion should best be viewed as “an opener that’s high enough to get people’s attention, but not large enough to get approval.”

Ganis adds, however, that this deal’s biggest hurdle will be politics, not price. Bain would basically need approval from all 30 owners, and particularly from owners of Original 6 teams like New York, Detroit and Boston. This seems unlikely today, but it is not an insurmountable problem – particularly if next season begins with replacement players and low attendance. Buyout firms often take years to complete a single transaction, and this one may be no different, with Bain trying to wait out the NHL while periodically sweetening the pot. Moreover, teaming up with GamePlan was a smart move, as few know as much about the business of professional sports as does Bob Caporale.

Speaking of understanding the business of sports, there is the issue of Steve Pagliuca, Bain’s managing partner who also is a co-owner of The Boston Celtics (not a silent partner – but not nearly as involved day-to-day as is former venture capitalist Wyc Grousbeck). Those who follow Boston sports know that the Celtics have been dropping not-so-subtle hints that they are dissatisfied with their current rent-free Fleet Center lease, which is held by Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs. Specifically, the Celtics want a better cut of concession and luxury box revenue). Since Pagliuca will need Jacobs on board for the NHL buy, however, one must wonder if the Celtics will withdraw their demands. If nothing else, it’s just another wrinkle in what could be the year’s most interesting private equity deal.

CVC Capital Partners is raising its fourth buyout fund with a target capitalization of 5 billion euros, according to a regulatory filing. The London-based firm’s current fund – CVC European Equity Partners III — closed out at 4.65 billion euros in 2001. www.cvceurope.com

VStar Inc., a Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based producer of an on-demand mobile television network, has raised $15 million in a venture funding round co-led by Bessemer Venture Partners and Charles River Ventures. www.1ktv.com

Aspreva Pharmaceuticals Corp., a British Columbia, Canada-based drug company focused on new applications for on-the-market medications, priced 7.2 million common shares at $11 per share (below $13-$15 offering range), for a total IPO take of approximately $79.2 million. It will trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol ASPV, and on the TSX under ticker symbol ASV. Aspreva had raised venture capital funding from firms like Sprout Group, InterWest Partners and HBM BioVentures. www.aspreva.com

Pollex Mobile Holdings, a Beijing-based provider of software and application for mobile handsets, has received venture funding from Jafco Asia and Intel Capital, according to a Chinese press report.

Aepona Ltd., a Belfast, Ireland-based telecom software developer, has raised $20 million in new venture funding, according to The Irish Times. Polaris Venture Partners reportedly led the deal, and was joined by return backers Trinity Venture Capital and Amadeus Capital Partners. www.aepona.com

CapMan Capital Management has agreed to acquire mechanical power transmission equipment maker Metso Drives from Finland-based Metso Corp. The deal is valued at approximately 98 million euros. www.capman.com www.metsodrives.com

Lehman Brothers Merchant Banking Group has acquired The Anschutz Corp.‘s 36.6% interest in Pacific Energy Partners LP, a Long Beach, Calif.-based limited partnership engaged in the business of gathering, transporting, storing and distributing crude oil and other related products in California and the Rocky Mountain region. www.pacificenergy.com www.lehman.com

United Enterprise Fund, a New York-based private equity fund specializing in the restaurant market, has acquired the bankrupt Le Petit Bistro restaurant chain and related assets. The deal was valued at approximately $7.13 million. www.lepetitbistro.com

InterContinentalExchange, an Atlanta-based operator of the London-based Internet-based global OTC marketplaces for commodities trading, said that it plans to file for an IPO within the next several weeks. The company, which owns London‘s International Petroelum Exchange, sold a minority ownership position last year to TA Associates. www.theice.com

Mykrolis Corp. (NYSE: MYK) has acquired Extraction Systems Inc., a Franklin, Mass.-based producer of molecular contamination measurement and control products for ultra-clean environments, for $25 million in cash. Extraction Systems has raised private funding from such firms as Howland Capital Management and the Venture Capital Fund of New England. www.extractionsystemsinc.com www.mykrolis.com

RecruitMax Software, a Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.-based, has acquired InfoTechWorks Inc., a New Hope, Pa.-based provider of compensation management software and consulting services. No deal terms were disclosed. RecruitMax has received VC funding from Montagu Newhall Associates, QuestMark Partners and Tudor Ventures. www.recruitmax.com

Envox Group, a Sweden and Westborough, Mass.-based provider of voice solutions, has acquired Intel Corp.‘s NetMerge call processing software and NetMerge CT application development environment products. No financial terms were disclosed. Envox is backed by Equivitec Partners, Northzone Ventures, Intel Capital and Servisen Investment Management. www.envox.com

HarvardUniversity reportedly has retained executive search firm PrinceGoldsmith LLC to find a new head of its $22.6 billion endowment. Current chief Jack Meyer plans to leave Harvard Management Co. at the end of June, to form his own firm. www.harvard.edu

First Reserve Corp. has promoted Alex Krueger to the position of managing director. He joined First Reserve in 1999 from DLJ’s energy group, and has worked on such deals as Pine Mountain Oil & Gas, Foundation Coal and Alpha Natural Resources. www.firstreserve.com

ABN Amro yesterday held a media briefing in Amsterdam to deny market rumors that the bank could be looking to divest some of its private equity investment efforts. www.abnamro.com

THURSDAY, MARCH 3

Barbells, BDCs and Bain

Lots of stuff to write about this morning, including Bain Capital’s reported bid to acquire the moribund National Hockey League (would the deal be considered a turnaround?). First up, however, is the long-delayed barbell strategy discussion:

For those who don’t remember last Thursday’s column, barbell strategy is when limited partners primarily make commitments to buyout firms on the micro/small and large/mega ends of the market, while mostly eschewing the vast array of middle-market opportunities. It was advocated by Barry Gonder of Grove Street Advisors during the Wharton Private Equity conference last month, and seems to be gaining traction with a growing number of institutional acolytes. My question to you, therefore, was whether or not the strategy makes sense.

The first thing that many of you asked was how “middle-market” is being defined. In general, such terms are based on current fund size, since it generally corresponds to deal-size focus. I couldn’t get Gonder on the phone, but did speak with Eric Hirsch, chief investment officer for Hamilton Lane Advisors, which used to advise Gonder while he was still at CalPERS, and which also has actively pursued the barbell strategy for over six years. His categories seemed appropriate, and they were: Small market funds are <$250m; middle-market are $400m-$1.5b; large-market are $1.5b-$4b; and mega-market are />$4b.

Hirsch says that barbell strategy obviously doesn’t work perfectly for everyone, since CalPERS is too large to commit equal amounts of capital to the small and large/mega-markets, while some smaller systems probably can’t even scrounge up the minimum requirement for Carlyle Group’s new $6.5 billion (or higher) fund-raising drive. However, he says that the best returns are at those ends of the market, so the best performance will be at the market edges. Many of you also wrote in to agree, and to add that middle-market performance could continue to decline, due to a current glut of middle-market funds.

What is so interesting about this performance theory, of course, is that it goes completely against the conventional wisdom that middle-market funds have better long-term performance than do large-market of mega-market funds (small-market funds are generally accepted to be the best, albeit trickiest, bet). This is specifically believed to be true when one looks at long-term benchmarks of 15 or 20 years. The question, however, is whether market fluidity is cause for reconsideration. For example, KKR raised $316 million for a 1982 fund, $1 billion for a 1984 fund, $750 million for a 1985 fund and $672 million for a 1986 fund. Each of those KKR funds was certainly playing the large- or mega-markets for their time (deals and enterprise values were smaller in the 1980s), but would be considered middle-market by today’s standards. As such, the argument is that some of today’s 15 or 20-year middle-market benchmarks could include those high-performing KKR fund, and thus theoretically could be artificially skewed upward.

This point was made by many of you, and it’s well taken, although it’s also worth noting that other readers believe that folks like Gonder – and probably Hirsch – have an ulterior motive for adopting barbell strategy. In short, they feel that it helps justify massive commitments to massive funds, and less time spent sorting through the middle-markets. Others also stress that LPs should focus exclusively on fund managers, regardless of fund size. We’ll get to all points of view tomorrow.

**  Ask a stupid question get over 150 emails. Yesterday, I suggested that the only way for individuals to participate in private equity was to either be filthy rich and/or know some folks already in the market (preferably fund managers). Then I asked if I was missing something. The answer, of course, is a resounding yes. First off, I forgot all about business development companies (BDCs) like Allied Capital, American Capital, Apollo, etc. This is particularly galling since the PE Week Wire was obsessed with BDCs for much of last spring. There also are the venture capital trusts (VCTs) in London, and the occasional opportunities for corporate employees to participate in their company’s venture or private equity programs. Third-highest response to a Wire column so far, behind the ones about lawn care and the Iraq War.

**  No time to discuss Bain and the NHL. sorry, but it’s getting late.

**  Finally, a sad note from the venture capital community, as Don Feddersen passed away last Thursday at the age of 70. Don spent the 1970s running such companies as Entrex Inc. and Applicon Inc., after which he became a general partner with Charles River Ventures. He “semi-retired” in 1997, and then took on a venture partner role with Bessemer Venture Partners. He is survived by wife Catherine, daughter Kimberly, sons John, Brett and Daniel, sister Rith Sievers, twin sister Dorothy Liveley and brother David. He also had nine grandchildren.

Visiting hours will be held at the J.S. Waterman Funeral Home in Wellesley, Mass. this Friday from 1:30-3:30pm, and from 6:30-8:30pm. A service will be held Saturday at Wellesley College‘s Houghton Memorial Chapel at 11am. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Bone Marrow Transplant Research, c/o Dr. Robert Soiffer, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, 44 Binney Street, Boston, MA 02115. Directions to both the funeral home and Wellesley College can be found at www.mem.com

Mary Ann Gray, former executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Venture Capital Association (MAVA), has been sentenced to two years in prison, after being convicted of embezzling approximately $400,000 from the group. Her attorneys had been looking for 12 months of home confinement.

Xtent Inc., a Menlo Park, Calif.-based developer of stent systems, has raised $25 million in Series C funding. Morgenthaler Ventures led the deal, and was joined by fellow return backers Advanced Technology Ventures, Latterell Venture Partners and Split Rock Partners (co-manager of St. Paul Venture Capital). The company has raised over $40 million in total VC funding, including a $15.2 million Series B round in 2003 at a post-money valuation of approximately $35 million.

Evergreen Pacific Partners of Seattle has closed its inaugural buyout fund with $275 million in limited partner commitments. Limited partners include West AM, the Public School Employee Retirement System of Pennsylvania, Duke University and Mass Mutual. The firm plans to participate in traditional buyouts, management buyouts and growth equity deals for middle-market companies in the Western U.S. and Canada. www.eppcapital.com

Trema, a Sweden-based provider of strategic software solutions to the financial industry, has raised 8 million euros in venture funding. Investcorp led the deal, which bought out company founders, and was joined by return backers Carlyle Group, ABS Ventures and Norsk Vekst. www.trema.com

Vizional Technologies Inc., an El Segundo, Calif.-based provider of RFID supply chain solutions, has raised $3.5 million in Series A funding. Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Zone Venture Fund co-led the deal. www.vizional.com

Phasebridge Inc., a Palo Alto, Calif.-based photonics company, has raised an undisclosed amount of second-round funding, led by Clearstone Venture Partners. www.phasebridge.com

Medsonix Inc., a Las Vegas-based medical device company focused on non-invasive pain relief, has received an undisclosed amount of venture funding from the DaVinci-Franklin Fund I. www.medsonix.com

Cittio Inc. (f.k.a. JJ Labs), a San Francisco-based provider of network monitoring and operations software, has raised $3.5 million in venture funding from Hummer Winblad Venture Partners. www.cittio.com

GMT Communications Partners has acquired Multicom Security AB, a Sweden-based provider of fixed and mobile communications services. The deal was valued at 60 million euros, with selling parties including Industri Kapital and TeliaSonera. www.multicomsecurity.se

Gryphon Investors has acquired Consolidated Fire Protection LLC from Caltius Private Equity Partners, Westar Capital and other shareholders. The deal was done in partnership with company management, and also included Jerry Rose, former vice-chairman of Jones Lang LaSalle, and Jim Didion, former chairman and CEO of CB Richard Ellis. No financial terms were disclosed. Consolidated Fire Protection is an Irvine, Calif.-based provider fire and life safety. www.gryphon-inv.com

InterContinentalExchange, an Atlanta-based operator of the London-based Internet-based global OTC marketplaces for commodities trading, said that it plans to file for an IPO within the next several weeks. The company, which owns London‘s International Petroelum Exchange, sold a minority ownership position last year to TA Associates. www.theice.com

NeoPhotonics Corp., a San Jose, Calif.-based maker of PLC-based integrated optical modules and subsystems, has acquired all state-owned shares of Photon Technology Co. Ltd., a Shenzhen, China-based manufacturer of optical components for broadband access and backbone optical networks. The deal gives NeoPhotonics approximately one-third of all outstanding Photon Technology shares, in exchange for an undisclosed amount of cash and stock. NeoPhotonics has raised nearly $100 million in venture capital funding since its 1996 inception, from firms like Venrock Associates, Institutional Venture Partners, Bay Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Nth Power, Oak Investment Partners, SBV Ventures and Rockport Capital Partners. www.neophotonics.com www.photontec.com

Mellon Financial Corp. (NYSE: MEL) has acquired Derivatives Portfolio Management LLC, a Somerset, N.J.-based provider of fund administration and back-office outsourcing to the alternative asset management market. No financial terms were disclosed. DPM had raised $4 million in venture funding nearly three years ago from Edison Venture Fund and Milestone Venture Partners. www.dpmllc.com

GPC Biotech AG (Nasdaq: GPCB) has acquired the material assets of Axxima Pharmaceuticals AG, a Munich-based drug discovery company that filed for insolvency last December. The deal is valued at 13.7 million euros in stock. Axxima had raised more than 50 million euros in VC funding from such firms as TVM-Techno Venture Management, AlpInvest Partners, Life Science Ventures, Heidelberg Innovation, SV Life Science Advisors and Novartis. www.axxima.com

Allos Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq: ALTH), a Westminster, Colo.-based drug company focused on cancer therapies, has agreed to sell $50 million of exchangeable preferred stock to Warburg Pincus, at a price of $22.10 per share (7.5% discount from 20-day trailing average). The deal is expected to close tomorrow. www.allos.com

Refocus Group Inc. (OTC BB: RFCG), a Dallas-based medical device company focused on eye disorders, has held a first close on half of a $14 million Series A-1 funding commitment from Medcare Investment Fund III. A second close is expected to occur within the next year. www.refocus-group.com

The Aurora Funds has promoted both Chris Kroeger and Grant Jackson to the role of principal. Kroeger joined Aurora Funds in 2003 as an associate, while Jackson joined in May 2004 as a senior associate. www.aurorafunds.com

ATP Private Equity Partners, a Copenhagen-based fund-of-funds manager, has promoted Susanne Forsingdal and Klaus Ruhne to the position of partner. Forsingdal joined ATP in 2003, after having served as senior vice president of inv*stor relations at Danske Bank. Ruhne also joined in 2003, after having served as a director of corporate finance with Danske. www.atp-pep.com

Gary Neuser has joined Credit Suisse First Boston as head of private client services. He previously served as senior vice president of UBS Wealth Management, and before that in various executive roles with Merrill Lynch. www.csfb.com

Hana Bank, Cambridge Capital Partners and IMM Investment Corp. have held a $50 million first close for a jointly-managed private equity fund that will participate in middle-market buyouts, growth financings and recaps in both the U.S. and Korea. It hopes to close on an additional $50 million to $100 million by year-end. www.hanabank.com www.cambridgecapital.com

El Dorado Ventures has closed its seventh fund with $200 million in limited partner commitments. It also has promoted Scott Irwin to the position of general partner. Gary Kalbach, who co-founded EDV in 1986, will remain as a founding partner, but will not play an active role in the new fund. www.eldorado.com

Gold Hill Venture Lending Partners has closed on a new venture debt fund with $215 million in limited partner commitments. The firm was formed in 2002 by four senior lending officers from Silicon Valley Bank, which is a limited partner in the fund. www.ghvl.com

August Capital of Menlo Park, Calif. has received $283 million in limited partner commitments for its fourth fund, according to a regulatory filing. The only inv*stor listed was Horsley Bridge Partners. www.augustcap.com

Global Vision AG Private Equity Partners, a Germany-based fund-of-funds manager, said that its sixth vehicle (which still has not yet held a final close) has made LP commitments to Institutional Venture Partners XI, Carlyle Partners IV and Sofinnova Capital V. www.globalvision-ag.com

Don Feddersen passed away last Thursday at the age of 70, after a battle with leukemia. He spent the 1970s running such companies as Entrex Inc. and Applicon Inc., after which he became a general partner with Charles River Ventures. He “semi-retired” in 1997, at which point he took on a venture partner role with Bessemer Venture Partners. He is survived by: wife Catherine, daughter Kimberly, sons John, Brett and Daniel, sister Rith Sievers, twin sister Dorothy Liveley and brother David. He also had nine grandchildren.

Visiting hours will be held at the J.S. Waterman Funeral Home in Wellesley, Mass. this Friday from 1:30-3:30pm, and from 6:30-8:30pm. A service will be held Saturday at Wellesley College‘s Houghton Memorial Chapel at 11am. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Bone Marrow Transplant Research, c/o Dr. Robert Soiffer, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, 44 Binney Street, Boston, MA 02115. Directions to both the funeral home and Wellesley College can be found at www.mem.com

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2

Random Ramblings

Lots of news this morning, including another planned corporate PE group spinout (MMC Capital), and a pair of new private equity fund-of-funds from bank-affiliated groups (Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners). As such, our barbell discussion gets postponed for yet another day, in favor of a few very quick notes:

* Yesterday I spoke with a newspaper reporter who wanted to know how readers could participate in the private equity market, were they so inclined. My basic answer was that they should: (A) Become filthy rich, and (B) Make friends with private equity fund managers. I added that there are obviously some exceptions – such as small-time angel consortiums or corporate employees being able to participate in their company’s private equity program – but that the private equity market is not really accessible for your average newspaper reader (or PE market columnist, for that matter). This answer didn’t seem to satisfy the reporter, which is understandable since it would make for a lousy story (“Let me tell you about a great financial opportunity that you can’t take part in.”).

So I ask you: Am I missing something obvious, or even less than obvious? Is there a private equity avenue for folks without millions — or even hundreds of thousands — of dollars in their bank accounts? Just wondering.

* Remember when VCs promised to stop acting like sheep to the next big thing? If not, don’t worry, because it didn’t last long. Brad Feld of Mobius Venture Capital writes that the VC saturation point has arrived for the RSS/blogging space, while Matt Marshall of the Merc takes a look at the next saturation point for niche consumer technologies.

* I’m so glad that Antoine is getting Mark Blount’s minutes, instead of Al Jefferson’s. No idea how I’ll concentrate on poker tonight with the Celts-Lakers game on.

* Yes, that rap-related shooting Monday night was just outside the lobby of our NYC office. No, none of our folks were hurt (we share a building with Hot 97).

Finally, some of you write in to complain that you only receive the PE Week Wire sporadically. This is most likely due to sp*m blocking issues. If you fall into this category, please send me an email with the subject heading “Wire Problem”, and I’ll send you info on how to prevent such blockages from happening in the future.

Goldman Sachs Asset Management has closed private equity fund-of-funds GS Private Equity Partners 2004 with $1.2 billion in LP commitments. The firm also announced previous closes of its third dedicated secondaries fund with $1.5 billion (closed 12/04) and its second distressed fund-of-funds with $386 million (closed 5/04). www.goldmansachs.com

Arginox Pharmaceuticals Inc., a Menlo Park, Calif.-based, has raised $25 million in Series C funding. Topspin Partners led the deal, and was joined by fellow return backer Perseus-Soros Biopharmaceutical Fund. The company has raised over $42 million in total funding, including three small business innovation research awards from the NIH. www.arginox.com

PanAmSat Holding Corp., a Wilton, Conn.-based provider of satellite communications services, has set its proposed IPO terms to 50 million common shares being offered at between $19 and $21 per share. The company has been controlled since last year by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., The Carlyle Group and Providence Equity Partners. www.panamsat.com

G2 Switchworks Corp., a Chicago-based provider of travel commerce services, has raised $5 million in a Series A funding round co-led by Norwest Venture Partners and TPG Ventures. The company recently asked a court to declare that members of its management team – including founder and CEO Alex Zoghlin – did not violate contractual obligations to their former employer, Orbitz. Zoghlin was Orbitz’s first employee, and served as its chief technology officer from 2000 to 2003. www.g2switchworks.com

SkyBitz, a Dulles, Va.-based provider of satellite-based asset tracking and information management services to the transportation industry, has raised $4 million in additional Series C funding from existing shareholders, bringing the round total to $20 million. The company had announced a $16 million close on the deal in January 2004, from firms like Inverness Capital Partners, Motorola Ventures, AIG Highstar Capital and Cordova Ventures. www.skybitz.com

Axial Biotech, a Salt Lake City-based maker of devices for the diagnosis and treatment of human spine disease and deformity, has raised $4.1 million in Series A funding. VSpring Capital led the deal, and was joined by both Medtronic Sofamor Danek and Ohio Biotech Group.

Desert Power Inc., a Farmington, N.M.-based provider of equipment overhaul and repair services to the natural gas compression industry in the Rocky Mountain region, has raised $1.14 million in first-round funding. Mesa Venture led the deal, and was joined by Altira Group. www.desertpower.us

Arroyo Video Solutions Inc., a Pleasanton, Calif.-based provider of video application delivery solutions, has raised $12 million in Series B funding. Matrix Partners led the deal, and was joined by return backers DCM-Doll Capital Management, Foundation Capital, Time Warner Investments and Comcast Interactive Capital. www.arroyo.tv

Farelogix Inc., a Toronto-based provider of faring and distribution technology to the global travel industry, has raised US$6 million in Series C funding from Sandler Capital Management. The company also announced that it plans to relocate its corporate headquarters to Miami, Fla. www.farelogix.com

Datanomic Ltd., a UK-based provider of data quality solutions, has raised GBP 2.5 million in Series B funding from 3i Group. IT also received an undisclosed amount of capital from existing shareholder DN Capital and company management. www.datanomic.com

Thomas H. Lee Partners has completed the sale of its 56% stake in San Antonio-based vision care retailer Eye Care Centers of America Inc. (ECCA) to Golden Gate Capital, Moulin International Holdings Ltd. and company management. The deal was valued at $450 million, including a $340 million financing package arranged by J.P. Morgan Securities. www.ecca.com

Summit Partners has agreed to acquire a majority position in Actix Ltd., a London-based provider of wireless performance engineering solutions. The deal is valued at GBP 40.6 million (approx. $76.1 million), with company management retaining a “sizable” minority stake. The deal is expected to close within the next few weeks. www.actix.com www.summitpartners.com

WL Ross & Co. is leading a stalking horse bid for WestPoint Stevens Inc., a West Point, Ga.-based maker of bed and bath fashion products, which currently is in Chapter 11 reorganization. The inv*stor group also includes holders of a majority of WestPoint Stevens’ senior credit facility, including Contrarian Capital Management and CP Capital Investments. www.westpointstevens.com

Goldman Sachs reportedly said that South Korean distillery Jinro Ltd. is worth $3.6 billion, in preparation of a Merrill Lynch-led auction that is expected to include Newbridge Capital, CVC Capital Partners and Affinity Partners. The news is a serious valuation increase for Jinro, which had previously been valued by creditor Goldman Sachs at approximately $2.5 billion.

Fletcher Building Ltd. has acquired Australia-based Amatek Holdings Ltd. for Au$530 million (approx. US$414 million) from CVC Capital Partners and DLJ Merchant Banking Partners. Amatek is a holding company comprising four Australian building products businesses: Rocla Pipeline Products (a national supplier of steel reinforced concrete pipes and pre-cast products), Rocla Quarry Products (a regional operator of sand quarries), Stramit (a leading supplier of roll formed steel roofing and structural products) and Insulation Solutions (a manufacturer of glass-wool and foil insulation). www.fletcherbuilding.com