The sun is less shy, the breezes are warmer and the air is filled with the scent of freshly poured tequila, margaritas and mezcal. Today is Cinco de Mayo, an occasion to celebrate a Mexican holiday, if only mainly in America. American popular culture has largely co-opted Cinco de Mayo (which is a national holiday in Mexico, albeit one mostly celebrated by only one Mexican state), probably because any excuse to party is a good excuse. However, not everyone parties on Cinco de Mayo; after all, since it’s not a federal holiday, everyone still has to work, including those at PE and VC firms. To honor the occasion, we thought it’d be intriguing to dive into the PitchBook Platform to see what exactly PE and VC firms have been up to on past Cinco de Mayos, as well as what’s happened in PE and VC in Mexico recently.
Since 2007, PE firms have cut 23 deals on the fifth of May in a wide variety of industries, while a 24th deal, although not strictly PE, is one of the more notable deals on the list:
- Neuberger Berman’s $875 million purchase by senior management in 2009 is the largest financial deal to occur on May 5th since 2007. The investment management unit of Lehman Brothers, Neuberger Berman was sold off as a result of Lehman’s bankruptcy, the largest in U.S. history. Prior to its parent company’s implosion, the unit was thought to be valued around $5 billion to $6 billion. Neuberger Berman executives may have had a few tequilas that night, considering the circumstances.
- Heading south to a more regionally apt deal, we arrive at the biggest PE deal in the space: Global Infrastructure Partners’ $700 million LBO of El Paso’s Ruby Interstate Natural Gas Pipeline Project. A 680-mile pipeline, Ruby stretches from the Rocky Mountain supply region to U.S. West Coast markets.
- Interestingly enough, no fewer than four education companies have been acquired or financed on Cinco de Mayos: Rainbow Early Education, The Princeton Review’s test prep biz, Mayberry Learning Center and Little Pro’s Academy. A variety of factors could account for this, with coincidence being the most likely, but it’s fun to imagine that perhaps PE investors looking forward to a night of partying decided to balance out the indulgence by investing in noble prospects like education companies.
What about VC investors? They completed 59 financings of an even wider variety of companies since 2007 on Cinco de Mayo, the most notable of which include:
- Woodman Labs, which collected a huge $88 million Series A financing on Cinco de Mayo 2011 from Riverwood Capital, Steamboat Ventures and others. The company, which is probably better known as the maker of GoPro cameras, collected an even larger $200 million corporate financing from Foxconn later, and, after cancelling an IPO in 2013, refiled back in February.
- Therapeutic laser tech maker PhotoThera and Big Data analyzer Palantir Technologies, both of which raised $50 million in 2009 and 2011, respectively, are intriguing counterparts. After its $50 million Series D, PhotoThera trundled along for a few years without further VC financing, and then filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in June of last year. Palantir Technologies, on the other hand, which offers a suite of software apps for integrating, visualizing and analyzing data, raked in $279 million on Valentine’s Day 2014 (maybe Palantir raises money just to fund its holiday parties), generating a $9.1 billion post-valuation.
So as we can see, quite a few PE and VC firms celebrate Cinco de Mayo in their own style, cutting deals and financing companies for all they’re worth. As for what they are up to in Mexico, quite a bit has been going on. PE-wise, Blackstone’s Fisterra Energy invested $650 million in Ventika, a wind-farm project in northern Mexico, while Partners Group bought Grupo Fermaca, a provider of gas infrastructure assets, for $750 million back in February. VC-wise, online design store Trendyta and Carmudi, which operates an online marketplace for buying and selling used vehicles, both obtained funding recently. For more, check out the datagraphic below:
Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia user Thelmadatter