$5B Merger in LNG Space

New Fortress Energy to buy Hygo ,Golar LNG Partners combined in $5B deal

New Fortress Energy (NFE) announced that it has entered into definitive agreements to acquire Hygo Energy Transition a 50-50 joint venture between Golar LNG Limited (GLNG) and Stonepeak Infrastructure Fund II Cayman.

New Fortress goes shopping

“With a strong presence in Brazil and a world-class LNG shipping business, Hygo and GMLP are excellent additions to our efforts to accelerate the world’s energy transition,” said Wes Edens, Chairman and CEO of NFE.

“The addition of Hygo will quickly expand our footprint in South America with three gas-to-power projects in Brazil’s large and fast-growing market. With GMLP, we gain LNG ships and world-class operators that are an ideal fit to support our existing terminals and robust pipeline.”

“We are impressed with what Wes Edens and the NFE team have created and their commitment to changing the energy industry,” said Golar LNG Chairman Tor Olav Troim.

“They share our vision to provide cheaper and cleaner energy to a growing population. The consolidation of two of the entrepreneurial LNG downstream players gives the company improved access to capital and creates a unique world-leading energy transition company which Golar shareholders will benefit from being a part of going forward.”

With the acquisition of Hygo, NFE will acquire an operating floating storage and regasification unit terminal and a 50% interest in a 1500MW power plant in Sergipe, Brazil as well as two other FSRU terminals with 1200MW of power in advanced stages in Brazil.

Hygo’s fleet consists of a newbuild FSRU and two operating LNG carriers.

NFE will also acquire a leading owner of FSRUs and LNG carriers as well as a pioneer in floating liquefaction technologies with the GMLP transaction.

The addition of GMLP’s fleet of six FSRUs, four LNG carriers and a 50% interest in Trains 1 and 2 of the Hilli, a floating liquefaction vessel, is expected to support both NFE’s , NFE will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Hygo for 31.4M shares of NFE Class A common stock and $580M in cash.

The transaction is valued at a $3.1B enterprise value and a $2.18B equity value.

Pursuant to the transaction, GLNG will receive 18.6 million shares of NFE Class A common stock and $50 million in cash and Stonepeak will receive 12.7 million shares of NFE Class A common stock and $530 million in cash.

Hygo’s Board of Directors, together with GLNG and Stonepeak, the shareholders of Hygo, have unanimously approved the proposed transaction with NFE.

The closing of the transaction is subject to the receipt of certain regulatory approvals and third party consents and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to occur in the first half of 2021.

Under NFE’s agreement with GMLP , NFE has agreed to acquire all of the outstanding common units of GMLP for $3.55 per common unit in cash.

NFE has also agreed to acquire GMLP’s general partner for equivalent consideration based on the general partner’s economic interest in GMLP.

The preferred units of GMLP will remain outstanding. The transaction is valued at a $1.9B enterprise value and $251 million common equity value.

GMLP’s Board of Directors, acting upon the recommendation of a special committee of independent directors of GMLP, unanimously approved the proposed transaction with NFE.

The closing of the transaction is subject to the approval by the holders of a majority of GMLP’s outstanding common units, the receipt of certain regulatory approvals and third party consents and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to occur in the first half of 2021.

GLNG has entered into a support agreement with NFE committing to vote its approximately 30.8% interest in GMLP’s common units in favor of the transaction.

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RealPage sold for $10.2 billion

RealPage to be acquired by Thoma Bravo for $88.75 per share in cash

RealPage (RP) announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Thoma Bravo, a private equity investment firm focused on the software and technology-enabled services sector, in an all-cash transaction that values RealPage at approximately $10.2B, including net debt.

Real Page sold for $10.2 billion

Under the terms of the agreement, RealPage stockholders will receive $88.75 in cash per share of RealPage common stock upon closing of the transaction.

The purchase price represents a premium of 30.8% over RealPage’s closing stock price of $67.83 on December 18, 2020, a premium of 36.5% over RealPage’s 30-day volume-weighted average share price through that date, and a premium of 27.8% over RealPage’s all-time high closing stock price of $69.47 on December 7.

The RealPage board has unanimously approved the agreement with Thoma Bravo and recommends that RealPage stockholders vote in favor of the transaction at the special meeting of RealPage stockholders to be called in connection with the transaction.

Thoma Bravo buys the real estate software company

Upon completion of the transaction, RealPage expects to continue operating under the leadership of chairman and CEO Steve Winn and the existing RealPage leadership team based in Richardson, Texas.

Closing of the transaction is subject to customary conditions, including approval by the holders of a majority of the outstanding shares of RealPage common stock, expiration or early termination of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, and receipt of other required regulatory approvals.

A special meeting of RealPage stockholders will be held in early 2021, following the filing of a definitive proxy statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Winn and certain affiliated entities, which collectively own approximately 10% of the outstanding shares of RealPage common stock, have entered into a voting agreement with Thoma Bravo pursuant to which they have agreed, among other things, to vote their shares of RealPage common stock in favor of the merger, and against any competing transaction, so long as, among other things, the RealPage board continues to recommend that RealPage stockholders vote in favor of the merger.

Consistent with the board’s commitment to maximizing stockholder value, under the terms of the definitive merger agreement, RealPage’s board and advisors may actively initiate, solicit and consider alternative acquisition proposals during a 45-day “go shop” period.

RealPage has the right to terminate the merger agreement to accept a superior proposal during the go-shop period, subject to the terms and conditions of the merger agreement.

There can be no assurances that this process will result in a superior proposal, and RealPage does not intend to disclose developments with respect to this solicitation process unless and until RealPage’s board makes a determination requiring further disclosure.

The parties expect the transaction to close in Q2 of 2021. Upon completion of the transaction, RealPage will become a privately held company, and its common stock will no longer be listed on the Nasdaq stock market.

RP closed at $67.83.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne sold for $5 billion

Lockheed Martin to acquire Aerojet Rocketdyne

Lockheed Martin (LMT) announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Aerojet Rocketdyne (AJRD) for $56 per share in cash, which is expected to be reduced to $51 per share after the payment of a pre-closing special dividend.

Aerojet sold for $5 billion

This represents a post-dividend equity value of $4.6B and a total transaction value of $4.4B including the assumption of net cash.

As part of approving the transaction, Aerojet Rocketdyne announced a special cash dividend, revocable at its option through the payment date, of $5 per share to its holders of record of common stock and convertible senior notes as of the close of business on March 10, 2021, and payable on March 24, 2021.

Lockheed Martin brings most of it’s rocket manufacturing to in-house with this deal

The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2021 and is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals and approval by Aerojet Rocketdyne’s stockholders.

Aerojet Rocketdyne designs, develops, manufactures, and sells aerospace and defense products and systems in the United States.

The Aerospace and Defense segment offers aerospace and defense products and systems for the United States government, including the Department of Defense, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and aerospace and defense prime contractors. This segment provides liquid and solid rocket propulsion systems, air-breathing hypersonic engines, and electric power and propulsion systems for space, defense, civil, and commercial applications; and armament systems.

Large Solid Rockets made by Aerojet

The Real Estate segment engages in the re-zoning, entitlement, sale, and leasing of the company’s excess real estate assets. It owns approximately 11,394 acres of land adjacent to the United States Highway 50 between Rancho Cordova and Folsom, California east of Sacramento.

AJRD closed at $42.02. LMT closed at $356.03.

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Rig counts rise!

Baker Hughes reports U.S. rig count up 8 to 346 rigs

Baker Hughes (BKR) reports that the U.S. rig count is up 8 from last week to 346 with oil rigs up 5 to 263, gas rigs up 2 to 81, and miscellaneous rigs up 1 to 2.

The U.S. Rig Count is down 467 rigs from last year’s count of 813, with oil rigs down 422, gas rigs down 44 and miscellaneous rigs down 1.

The international offshore rig count for April 2018 was 194. Stockwinners

The U.S. Offshore Rig Count is up 3 to 16, down 8 year-over-year.

The Canada Rig Count is down 9 from last week to 102, with oil rigs down 11 to 41, gas rigs up 2 to 61.

The Canada Rig Count is down 47 rigs from last year’s count of 149, with oil rigs down 47, gas rigs unchanged.

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Rig Counts Rise – See Stockwinners.com Market Radar to read more

Baker Hughes has issued the rotary rig counts as a service to the petroleum industry since 1944, when Baker Hughes Tool Company began weekly counts of U.S. and Canadian drilling activity.  Baker Hughes initiated the monthly international rig count in 1975. The North American rig count is released weekly at noon Central Time on the last day of the work week. The international rig count will be released on the last working day of the first week of the month.

The Baker Hughes Rig Counts are an important business barometer for the drilling industry and its suppliers. When drilling rigs are active they consume products and services produced by the oil service industry. The active rig count acts as a leading indicator of demand for products used in drilling, completing, producing and processing hydrocarbons.

Brent crude is up $0.69 to $52.19 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude is up $0.69 to $49.05 per barrel.

Gasoline last traded at $1.40 per gallon, up one cent.

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Curo Group shares jump on sale of its subsidiary!

Curo Group surges after Katapult announces merger with SPAC

Shares of Curo Group Holdings (CURO) have surged in Friday trading after the company announced earlier today that it is positioned to benefit from the announcement that Katapult Holding, a company approximately 40% owned by Curo and a leading provider of e-commerce point-of-sale lease purchase options for non-prime U.S. consumers, and FinServ Acquisition Corp.

(FSRV), a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company, or “SPAC,” have entered into a definitive merger agreement.

The transaction values Katapult’s equity at $908M, which includes an earnout of up to $75M in the form of additional common shares in the new public company, Curo said.

“Based on Curo’s ownership in Katapult, the transaction announced today will provide consideration consisting of a combination of cash and stock in the new company to CURO of $365M, which includes an earnout of up to $30M in the form of additional common shares in the new public company.

To date, Curo has made a total cash investment in Katapult of $27.5M,” the company noted.

Upon the closing of the transaction, Curo anticipates receiving cash of up to $125 million and maintaining an ownership stake of at least 21% of the fully-diluted shares of the new public company, CURO added. In afternoon trading, Curo shares have risen $7.09, or 81%, to $15.88. Shares hit a high of $20.81.

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Merger creates $4B cannabis company

 Aphria, Tilray announce $3.9B combination

Aphria (APHA) and Tilray (TLRY) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement to combine their businesses and create the world’s largest global cannabis company based on pro forma revenue.

Aphria merges with Tilray

The deal is pursuant to a plan of arrangement under the Business Corporations Act and the implied pro forma equity value of the combined company is approximately $3.9B, based on the share price of Aphria and Tilray at the close of market on December 15.

Following the completion of the arrangement, the combined company will have principal offices in the United States, Canada, Portugal and Germany, and it will operate under the Tilray corporate name with shares trading on Nasdaq under ticker symbol (TLRY).

Tilray merges with Aphria

The combined company will have a complete portfolio of branded Cannabis 2.0 products in Canada.

In the United States, the combined company will have a consumer packaged goods presence and infrastructure with two strategic pillars, including SweetWater Brewing and Manitoba Harvest.

Under the terms of the Arrangement, the shareholders of Aphria will receive 0.8381 shares of Tilray for each Aphria common share, while holders of Tilray shares will continue to hold their Tilray shares with no adjustment to their holdings.

Upon the completion of the arrangement, Aphria Shareholders will own approximately 62% of the outstanding Tilray Shares on a fully diluted basis, resulting in a reverse acquisition of Tilray, representing a premium of 23% based on the share price at market close on December 15 to Tilray shareholders.

On a pro forma basis for the last twelve months reported by each company, the combined company would have had revenue of $685M.

Upon completion of the arrangement, Aphria’s current chairman and CEO, Irwin Simon, will lead the combined company as chairman and CEO.

The board of directors will consist of nine members, seven of which, including Simon, are current Aphria directors and two of which will be from Tilray, including Brendan Kennedy, and one of which is to be designated.

The combined company will have pro forma revenue of $685M for the last twelve months reported by each company, the highest in the global cannabis industry.

In Canada, the combination of Aphria and Tilray will create the leading adult-use cannabis company with gross revenue of C$296M in the adult-use market for the twelve months reported by each company.

The combination of Aphria and Tilray is expected to deliver approximately C$100M of annual pre-tax cost synergies within 24 months of the completion of the transaction.

The combined company expects to achieve cost synergies in the key areas of cultivation and production, cannabis and product purchasing, sales and marketing and corporate expenses.

Under the terms of the agreement, the arrangement will be carried out by way of a court approved plan of arrangement under the Business Corporations Act and will require the approval of at least two-thirds of the votes cast by the Aphria Shareholders at a special meeting.

Approval of a majority of the votes cast by Tilray stockholders will be required to, among other things contemplated by the Agreement, authorize the issuance of Tilray shares to Aphria shareholders pursuant to the Arrangement. Following completion of the Arrangement, Aphria will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tilray, with Aphria shareholders owning approximately 62% of Tilray.

The arrangement is expected to close in the second quarter of calendar year 2021 following the receipt of such regulatory approvals, as well as court approval of the Arrangement.

Each of Aphria’s and Tilray’s respective directors and officers and certain principal Tilray Stockholders have entered into voting support agreements agreeing to vote their Aphria Shares or Tilray Shares, as applicable, in favor of the resolutions put before them pursuant to the agreement.

Note that this merger probably was forced on the companies by market forces. Covid-19 pandemic has hurt cannabis industry similar to restaurants and movie theaters. APHA is up 5 cents to $8.18. TLRY is up $1.51 to $9.38. TLRY shares have an all time high of $300.

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Prevail Therapeutics sold for $1.04 billion

Eli Lilly to acquire Prevail Therapeutics for up to $26.50 per share in cash

Eli Lilly (LLY) and Prevail Therapeutics (PRVL) announced a definitive agreement for Lilly to acquire Prevail for $22.50 per share in cash payable at closing plus one non-tradable contingent value right, or CVR, worth up to $4.00 per share in cash, for a total consideration of up to $26.50 per share in cash, or or an aggregate of approximately $1.04B.

Prevail sold for more than $1 billion

The CVR is payable upon the first regulatory approval of a product from Prevail’s pipeline as set forth in more detail below.

Prevail is a biotechnology company developing potentially disease-modifying AAV9-based gene therapies for patients with neurodegenerative diseases.

The acquisition will establish a new modality for drug discovery and development at Lilly, extending Lilly’s research efforts through the creation of a gene therapy program that will be anchored by Prevail’s portfolio of clinical-stage and preclinical neuroscience assets.

Eli Lilly announces Alimta label expanded by FDA, Stockwinners
Eli Lilly bets on Prevail’s Parkinson’s treatment

Prevail’s lead gene therapies in clinical development are PR001 for patients with Parkinson’s disease with GBA1 mutations and neuronopathic Gaucher disease and PR006 for patients with frontotemporal dementia with GRN mutations.

Prevail’s preclinical pipeline includes PR004 for patients with specific synucleinopathies, as well as potential gene therapies for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other neurodegenerative disorders.

PROO1 is a promising drug for Parkinson’s

Under the terms of the agreement, Lilly will commence a tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of Prevail Therapeutics Inc. for a purchase price of $22.50 per share in cash payable at closing plus one non-tradeable CVR.

The CVR entitles Prevail stockholders to up to an additional $4.00 per share in cash payable upon the first regulatory approval for commercial sale of a Prevail product in one of the following countries: United States, Japan, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy or Spain.

To achieve the full value of the CVR, such regulatory approval must occur by December 31, 2024.

If such regulatory approval occurs after December 31, 2024, the value of the CVR will be reduced by approximately 8.3c per month until December 1, 2028.

There can be no assurance any payments will be made with respect to the CVR. The transaction is not subject to any financing condition and is expected to close in Q1 of 2021, subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of required regulatory approvals and the tender of a majority of the outstanding shares of Prevail’s common stock.

Following the successful closing of the tender offer, Lilly will acquire any shares of Prevail that are not tendered in the tender offer through a second-step merger at the same consideration as paid in the tender offer.

The purchase price payable at closing represents a premium of approximately 117% to the 60-day volume-weighted average trading price of Prevail’s common stock ended on December 14, the last trading day before the announcement of the transaction.

Prevail’s board of directors unanimously recommends that Prevail’s stockholders tender their shares in the tender offer.

Additionally, certain Prevail stockholders, beneficially owning approximately 51% of Prevail’s outstanding common stock, have agreed to tender their shares in the tender offer.

Upon closing, the impact of this transaction will be reflected in Lilly’s 2021 financial results according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

There will be no change required to Lilly’s 2021 financial guidance being issued for research and development expense or non-GAAP earnings per share as a result of this transaction.

Prevail Therapeutics (PRVL) last traded at $22.67, up 81%.

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Big Rock Partners buys NeuroRx

NeuroRx to trade on Nasdaq following Big Rock Partners Acquisition merger

Big Rock Partners Acquisition (BRPA) announced that it has entered into an agreement and plan of merger with NeuroRx, a clinical stage, small molecule pharmaceutical company.

Big Rock shares jump on purchase of NeuroRx

NeuroRx develops novel therapeutics for the treatment of COVID-19 and Bipolar Depression.

Under the terms of the transaction, Big Rock and NeuroRx will merge and the company is expected to continue to trade on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol (NRXP).

The transaction is expected to occur in the first or second quarter of 2021.

As a public Nasdaq-listed company, NeuroRx expects to have increased access to capital to continue development of its drug pipeline targeting Central Nervous System/Psychiatry and Respiratory Disease.

NeuroRx is a clinical stage, small molecule pharmaceutical company which develops novel therapeutics for the treatment of central nervous system disorders and life-threatening pulmonary disease.

NeuroRx’s two main drugs are Zyesami which is an application for COVID-related respiratory failure and NRX-101, which focuses on suicidal bipolar depression and PTSD.

Zyesami is a synthetic human vasoactive intestinal peptide, or VIP, a 28 amino-acid natural peptide with 50 years of research. NRX-101 is a fixed-dose combination of D-cycloserine and lurasidone that has advanced to phase 3 with FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation, a Special Protocol Agreement, Biomarker Letter of Support, and Fast Track Designation.

NeuroRx’s management team is comprised of industry veterans, led by founder, Chairman & CEO Jonathan C. Javitt, MD, MPH, Robert Besthof, MIM (Chief Commercial Officer), William Fricker, MBA, CPA (Chief Financial Officer) and Alessandra Daigneault, JD (Corporate Secretary), who are expected to continue to run the combined company, post-transaction.

All officers and members of the board of Big Rock will resign in connection with the closing of the transactions.

The board of the combined company will initially consist of seven members, including Prof. Jonathan Javitt.

Under the terms of the transaction, Big Rock will issue to NeuroRx’s current equity holders an aggregate of 50M shares of Big Rock common stock for their interests in NeuroRx, representing $500M of equity consideration, assuming a value of $10.00 per common share.

Subject to certain conditions, an aggregate of 25M additional shares of Big Rock common stock will be issued to NeuroRx pre-merger equity holders if, prior to December 31, 2022, RLF-100 receives emergency use authorization by the FDA and the FDA accepts the company’s filing of its application to approve RLF-100.

In addition, subject to certain conditions, a $100M cash earnout may be payable to NeuroRx pre-merger equity holders if, prior to December 31, 2022, either FDA approval of the company’s COVID-19 Drug is obtained and the company’s COVID-19 Drug is listed in the FDA’s or FDA approval of the company’s Antidepressant Drug Regimen is obtained and the company’s Antidepressant Drug Regimen is listed in the FDA’s “Orange Book”.

The boards of both NeuroRx and Big Rock have unanimously approved the proposed transaction.

Completion of the transaction is subject to approval by stockholders of NeuroRx and Big Rock and other customary closing conditions.

BRPA is up 30% to $15.50.

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Pluralsight sold for $3.5 billion

Pluralsight to be acquired by Vista for $20.26 per share in cash

Pluralsight (PS) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Vista Equity Partners.

Pluralsight sold for $3.5 billion

Pluralsight, Inc. operates a cloud-based technology skills platform in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and internationally. Its platform products include Pluralsight Skills for individuals and teams to acquire technology skills through skill development experiences, such as skill assessments, a curated library of expert-authored courses, directed learning paths, interactive content, and business analytics; and Pluralsight Flow, which gives technology leaders objective data and visibility into workflow patterns to measure the productivity of their software developers. 

Under the terms of the agreement, Vista, in partnership with its institutional co-investors including Partners Group, will acquire all outstanding shares of Pluralsight common stock for $20.26 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $3.5B.

Company has benefited from “stay home”

The purchase price represents a premium of approximately 25% to the company’s volume weighted average closing stock price for the 30 trading days prior to today’s announcement.

The deal has been unanimously approved and recommended by an independent Transaction Committee and then unanimously approved by the Pluralsight board.

Vista gambles $3.5 billion on cloud based learning

Pluralsight has also entered into a voting agreement with certain of its shareholders, under which such shareholders have agreed to vote all of their Pluralsight shares in favor of the transaction.

The Pluralsight shares subject to the voting agreement represent a majority of the current outstanding voting power of Pluralsight shares. “In response to receipt of unsolicited acquisition interest, Pluralsight engaged in a robust process, including evaluating transaction alternatives against Pluralsight’s standalone plan and other strategic alternatives,” the company said.

The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2021. PS closed at $18.98.

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Aytu BioScience and Neos Therapeutics Merge

Aytu, Neos Therapeutics enter all-stock merger agreement

Aytu BioScience (AYTU) and Neos Therapeutics (NEOS) announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement pursuant to which Neos will merge with a wholly owned subsidiary of Aytu in an all-stock transaction.

Upon the effectiveness of the merger, Neos stockholders will be entitled to receive 0.1088 shares of common stock of Aytu for each share of Neos common stock held, after taking into account the one-for-ten reverse split of Aytu’s common stock that was effected on December 8.

The transaction will result in Neos stockholders owning approximately 30% of the fully diluted common shares of Aytu.

The all-stock transaction is valued, on a fully diluted basis, at approximately $44.9M based on the 10-day volume weighted average price of Aytu stock for the period ended December 9.

The combined entity will have an increased footprint in the prescription pediatric market, an established multi-brand ADHD portfolio addressing the $8.5B ADHD market and combined revenue scale.

For the 12-month period ending September 30, Neos generated $57M in revenues. On a combined pro-forma basis for this same period, Aytu and Neos’ aggregate net revenue is over $100M.

In addition, this merger facilitates operational and commercial synergies that can be harnessed to accelerate the path to profitability for the combined entity, with estimated annualized cost synergies of approximately $15M beginning FY22.

The combined company will be led by Josh Disbrow, CEO of Aytu and will be headquartered in Englewood, Colorado.

The board of the combined company will consist of six members designated by Aytu and two members designated by Neos, including Neos CEO and director Jerry McLaughlin and Neos director Beth Hecht.

The merger is currently expected to close by Q2 of 2021, subject to certain approvals by both Aytu and Neos stockholders and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.

As part of the transaction, Aytu has agreed to provide Neos with access to up to $5M cash for working capital needs for the period prior to the closing of the merger.

In addition, upon closing of the merger, $15M in principal of Neos’s existing senior secured debt facility with affiliates of Deerfield Management will be repaid, and Deerfield has agreed to allow the remaining debt under the facility to remain outstanding with the combined company following the merger.

Indebtedness under Neos’s existing ABL agreement with Encina Business Credit will also remain outstanding.

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Waddell & Reed sold for $1.7 billion

Macquarie to acquire Waddell & Reed for $25 per share

Waddell & Reed (WDR) announced it has entered into a merger agreement with Macquarie Asset Management, the asset management division of Macquarie Group (MQBKY), under which Macquarie would acquire all of the outstanding shares of Waddell & Reed for $25.00 per share in cash representing total consideration of $1.7B.

The transaction represents a premium of approximately 48% to the closing price of Waddell & Reed common stock on December 1, 2020, the last trading day prior to the transaction announcement, and a premium of approximately 57% to Waddell & Reed’s volume-weighted average price for the last 90 trading days.

On completion of the transaction, Macquarie has agreed to sell Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc.’s wealth management platform to LPL Financial Holdings Inc. (LPLA), a U.S. retail investment advisory firm, independent broker-dealer, and registered investment advisor custodian, and also enter into a long-term partnership with Macquarie becoming one of LPL’s top tier strategic asset management partners.

As a result of the transaction, Macquarie Asset Management’s assets under management are expected to increase to over $465B, with the combined business becoming a top 25 actively managed, long-term, open-ended U.S. mutual fund manager by assets under management, with the scale and diversification to competitively position the business to maintain and extend its high standards of service to clients and partners.

The transaction has been approved by the Boards of Directors of Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc., Macquarie Group and LPL and is expected to close in the middle of 2021, subject to regulatory approvals, Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. stockholder approval and other customary closing conditions.

Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. provides investment management and advisory, investment product underwriting and distribution, and shareholder services administration to mutual funds, and institutional and separately managed accounts in the United States. 

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Slack Technologies sold for $27.7 billion

Salesforce acquires Slack in cash and stock deal worth $27.7B

Salesforce (CRM) and Slack Technologies (WORK) have entered into a definitive agreement under which Salesforce will acquire Slack.

Under the terms of the agreement, Slack shareholders will receive $26.79 in cash and 0.0776 shares of Salesforce common stock for each Slack share, representing an enterprise value of approximately $27.7 billion based on the closing price of Salesforce’s common stock on November 30.

The boards of each of Salesforce and Slack have approved the transaction and the Slack board recommends that Slack stockholders approve the transaction and adopt the merger agreement.

The transaction is anticipated to close in the second quarter of Salesforce’s fiscal year 2022.

Salesforce goes shopping

Salesforce has also entered into a voting agreement with certain stockholders of Slack common stock, under which each such stockholder has agreed to vote all of their Slack shares in favor of the transaction at the special meeting of Slack stockholders to be held in connection with the transaction, subject to certain terms and conditions.

The Slack shares subject to the agreement represent approximately 55% of the current outstanding voting power of the Slack common stock.

Salesforce expects to fund the cash portion of the transaction consideration with a combination of new debt and cash on Salesforce’s balance sheet.

One year chart of Slack Tech. stock price

Salesforce has obtained a commitment from Citigroup, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase for a $10B senior unsecured 364-day bridge loan facility.

Salesforce said, “Slack will be deeply integrated into every Salesforce Cloud.

Five year chart of Salesforce stock price

As the new interface for Salesforce Customer 360, Slack will transform how people communicate, collaborate and take action on customer information across Salesforce as well as information from all of their other business apps and systems to be more productive, make smarter, faster decisions and create connected customer experiences.”

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Uncertainty in economy pushes lawmakers to come up with stimulus bill!

Powell says outlook for economy is ‘extraordinarily uncertain’

In prepared remarks for the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell said:

Jerome Powell say economy is on shaky ground

“Economic activity has continued to recover from its depressed second-quarter level. The reopening of the economy led to a rapid rebound in activity, and real gross domestic product, or GDP, rose at an annual rate of 33 percent in the third quarter.

In recent months, however, the pace of improvement has moderated.

Household spending on goods, especially durable goods, has been strong and has moved above its pre-pandemic level.

In contrast, spending on services remains low largely because of ongoing weakness in sectors that typically require people to gather closely, including travel and hospitality.

The overall rebound in household spending is due, in part, to federal stimulus payments and expanded unemployment benefits, which provided essential support to many families and individuals…

As we have emphasized throughout the pandemic, the outlook for the economy is extraordinarily uncertain and will depend, in large part, on the success of efforts to keep the virus in check…

Covid-19 has caused a global slowdown

The rise in new COVID-19 cases, both here and abroad, is concerning and could prove challenging for the next few months.

A full economic recovery is unlikely until people are confident that it is safe to re-engage in a broad range of activities.

Recent news on the vaccine front is very positive for the medium term. For now, significant challenges and uncertainties remain, including timing, production and distribution, and efficacy across different groups.”

Meanwhile lawmakers in Washington have come up with a new stimulus plan.  

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers announced a $908B COVID-19 aid package aimed to breaking a monthslong deadlock between Democrats and Republicans over new emergency relief for small businesses, unemployed people, airlines, and other industries during the coronavirus crisis, Reuters’ Richard Cowan and Doina Chiacu report.

The bill has not yet been written into legislation, nor has it been embraced by the Republican White House, Democratic President-elect Joe Biden, or leaders in the Senate or House of Representatives, the authors note.

The package, however, does come with the support of a group of conservatives and moderates who believe it will appeal to a broad swath of Congress, the authors note.

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IHS Markit sold for $44 billion

S&P Global, IHS Markit to merge in all-stock deal

S&P Global (SPGI) and IHS Markit (INFO) announced they have entered into a definitive merger agreement to combine in an all-stock transaction which values IHS Markit at an enterprise value of $44B, including $4.8B of net debt.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the boards of both companies, each share of IHS Markit common stock will be exchanged for a fixed ratio of 0.2838 shares of S&P Global common stock.

Upon completion of the transaction, current S&P Global shareholders will own approximately 67.75% of the combined company on a fully diluted basis, while IHS Markit shareholders will own approximately 32.25%.

Serving a global customer base across financial information and services, ratings, indices, commodities and energy, and transportation and engineering, the pro forma company will provide differentiated solutions to the workflows of many companies.

Combined, the two companies will provide solutions across data, platforms, benchmarks and analytics in ESG, climate and energy transition.

The pro forma company will have 76% recurring revenue and expects to realize 6.5%-8% annual organic revenue growth in 2022 and 2023, balanced across major industry segments.

The combined company will target 200 basis points of annual EBITA margin expansion.

The transaction is expected to be accretive to earnings by the end of the second full year post-closing.

The combined company expects to deliver annual run-rate cost synergies of approximately $480M, with approximately $390M of those expected by the end of the second year post-closing, and $350M in run-rate revenue synergies for an expected total run-rate EBITA impact of approximately $680M by the end of the fifth full year after closing.

The combined company expects to generate annual free cash flow exceeding $5B by 2023, with a targeted dividend payout ratio of 20%-30% of adjusted diluted EPS and a targeted total capital return of at least 85% of free cash flow between dividends and share repurchases.

Both companies expect to maintain their current dividend policies until the close of the transaction.

Following closing, the company will be headquartered in New York with a presence in key global markets across North America, Latin America, EMEA and Asia Pacific.

The leadership team will comprise senior leaders from both organizations.

Ewout Steenbergen, executive VP and CFO of S&P Global, will serve as CFO of the combined company.

Ewout Steenbergen will serve as CFO of the new company

The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2021, subject to, among other things, the expiration or termination of the applicable waiting periods under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended, other antitrust and regulatory approvals, and other customary closing conditions.

The transaction requires the approval of shareholders of both S&P Global and IHS Markit and is not subject to any financing conditions.

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Collectors Universe sold for $75 per share

Collectors Universe to be acquired by investor group for approx. $700M

Collectors Universe (CLCT) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement under which an investor group led by entrepreneur and sports card collector Nat Turner, D1 Capital Partners L.P., and Cohen Private Ventures will acquire all of the Company’s outstanding shares of common stock for $75.25 per share in cash.

Collectors Universe, Inc. provides authentication, grading, and related services to dealers, collectors, and retail buyers and sellers of coins, trading cards, event tickets, autographs, and historical and sports memorabilia in the United States. The company operates in three segments: Coins, Trading Cards and Autographs, and Other Collectibles. It also publishes magazines that provide market prices and information for various collectibles and high-value assets that are accessible on its websites.

Nat Turner pushed for this transaction

The transaction represents a premium of approximately 30% over the Company’s 60-day volume-weighted average price ended on November 25, 2020, the last full trading day before today’s announcement.

The transaction, which was approved by the Collectors Universe Board of Directors, represents fully diluted equity value of approximately $700M, and is not subject to any financing contingency.

Joseph J. Orlando, President and CEO of Collectors Universe, will continue to lead Collectors Universe, which will retain its headquarters in Santa Ana, California.

Joseph J. Orlando, President and CEO of Collectors Universe

The transaction will be completed through a cash tender offer for all of the outstanding common shares of Collectors Universe for $75.25 per share in cash, to be commenced as promptly as reasonably practicable, followed by a merger in which any remaining outstanding shares of Collectors Universe will be converted into the right to receive the same cash price per share paid in the tender offer.

The closing of the tender offer is subject to certain limited and customary conditions, including the tender by Collectors Universe shareholders of at least one share more than 50% of Collectors Universe’s issued and outstanding shares and expiration or early termination of the statutory waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.

The Collectors Universe Board of Directors recommends that all shareholders tender their shares in the offer.

The transaction is expected to close in the first calendar quarter of 2021.

Upon completion of the transaction, Collectors Universe will become a privately held company and its shares will no longer be listed on any public market.

CLCT last traded at $75.22, up $2.67.

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