Austin Ventures Appoints Venture Partner

Texas-based Austin Ventures has appointed Andrew Busey, former vice president/general manager at Zynga, as venture partner. Busey brings extensive leadership and operational experience from his years of working with high-growth companies as an entrepreneur, leader, investor, and advisor.

PRESS RELEASE

Austin Ventures (”AV”), the most active and established early-stage venture capital firm in Texas, today announced that Andrew Busey, former VP/GM at Zynga (ZNGA), has joined the firm as venture partner. Andrew brings extensive leadership and operational experience from his years of working with high-growth companies as an entrepreneur, leader, investor, and advisor.

“In his new role, Andrew will help the venture team identify and attract very early-stage companies,” said John Thornton, General Partner, Austin Ventures. “He has an extensive network and solid reputation within the entrepreneurial community and we’re delighted to welcome him to our team.”

“As a founder and CEO, I have experienced firsthand what it takes to build a start-up company. I am very excited to work alongside the AV team on new opportunities while helping entrepreneurs build successful category-defining businesses,” said Busey.

Busey’s most recent success was the sale of Challenge Games, where he was founder and CEO, to Zynga, where he recently stepped down after building its Austin office and leading a large team developing social games. Over the past 15 years, Andrew has pioneered some of the industry’s most important web technologies — including work on Mosaic, the first web browser (now part of Microsoft Internet Explorer); creating iChat, the first web-based chat system and one of the first instant messaging applications; and building WebCenter, the first major web-based customer service technology (now part of Avaya).

Andrew co-founded AV portfolio company Pluck (acquired by DemandMedia), which enables social media on major sites such as TheStreet.com, USA Today, and Reuters. In the past, Andrew led, developed, and contributed to numerous “Multi-User Dungeon” or “Multi-User Domain” (MUDs) games, which were the early predecessors to games like World of Warcraft and Everquest. In 1994, he wrote Secrets of the MUD Wizards, the first major published book on the topic. Andrew is an inventor on 15 technology patents and has several others pending.

He is a graduate in computer science and marketing from Duke University and holds an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

About Austin Ventures Austin Ventures (”AV”) has worked with talented entrepreneurs to build valuable companies for over 25 years. With $3.9 billion under management, AV is the most active venture capital and growth equity firm in Texas and one of the most established in the nation. With an investment focus on business services and supply chain, financial services, new media, Internet, and information services, AV invests at all stages of company development, from $100,000 in “planned experiments” in early-stage ideas to $100+ million investments in expansion rounds and recapitalizations. AV’s strategy is to partner with talented executives and entrepreneurs through its CEO-in-Residence and Entrepreneur-in-Residence programs.


Prospect Acquires Nix Health

Prospect Medical Holdings has acquired Nix Health Care System, a company that offers San Antonio and the surrounding communities a vast array of medical services ranging from primary care and surgical services to behavioral and rehabilitation services. Prospect Medical Holdings is a healthcare services company headquartered in Los Angeles and backed by private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners.

PRESS RELEASE

Prospect Medical Holdings, Inc. (”Prospect” or the “Company”), today announced the closing of its acquisition of Nix Health Care System (”Nix Health”). Under the terms of the Asset Purchase Agreement entered into on December 23, 2011, Prospect has acquired substantially all of the assets of Nix Health from its present owner, a subsidiary of Merit Health Systems, LLC. The acquisition of Nix Health will result in the expansion of Prospect’s operations, and provide a great opportunity for future expansion in the state of Texas.

About Nix Health

Nix Health offers San Antonio and the surrounding communities a vast array of medical services ranging from primary care and surgical services to behavioral and rehabilitation services. Accessible and comprehensive services are available at various locations throughout the city and include Nix Medical Center, Nix Alamo Heights, Nix Specialty Health Center, Nix Primary Care Center, Nix North Orthopaedic Center, among other physician offices.

About Prospect Medical Holdings

Prospect Medical Holdings, Inc., headquartered in Los Angeles, California, is a healthcare services company that owns and operates hospitals, and manages the provision of healthcare services for managed care enrollees through its network of primary care physicians and specialists. Prospect is affiliated with Leonard Green & Partners, L.P.

About Leonard Green & Partners, L.P.

Leonard Green & Partners is one of the nation’s leading private equity firms with approximately $9 billion in equity commitments under management, was founded in 1989, and has invested in 59 companies with an aggregate value in excess of $51 billion. The firm’s investments are focused primarily on North American companies in a range of industries including retail, consumer products, distribution, business services and healthcare.

SOURCE: Prospect Medical Holdings, Inc.


Auxogyn Closes Series A at $20m

Auxogyn, a privately-held company focused on advancing women’s reproductive health, has closed the final tranche of its Series A financing, bringing total funding to $20 million. Investors in the round include Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, TPG Biotech and Merck Serono Ventures.

PRESS RELEASE

Auxogyn, Inc., a privately-held company focused on advancing women’s reproductive health, today announced the close of the final tranche of its Series A financing, bringing the total funding to $20 million. The initial tranche was placed in May 2010, and investors in the round include Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, TPG Biotech and Merck Serono Ventures.

“Over the course of the last year, we have executed an aggressive operating plan in preparation for the commercialization of our first product, Eeva. Importantly, we expect to announce data from our five-site, 150-patient clinical study in the months ahead that will then be used as part of our regulatory filings in Europe and the United States,” said Lissa Goldenstein, president and chief executive officer of Auxogyn.

“In evaluating investments throughout the medical technology field, we were impressed with Auxogyn’s unique approach of bringing scientific rigor and data analytics backed by a robust intellectual property portfolio and top-tier clinical advisors to a market in desperate need of improved results,” said Mark Gudiksen, Ph.D., principal of TPG Biotech and member of Auxogyn’s board of directors.

“As the leader in fertility, Merck Serono is committed to investing in innovative technologies to improve the chance of a successful IVF pregnancy,” said Nilesh Kumar Ph.D., director, Merck Serono Ventures. “This investment reflects our confidence in achieving this goal.”

“Having developed its first product, initiated a substantive clinical study, and built a sound organizational infrastructure, Auxogyn has set the stage for an exciting 2012, springboarding toward commercialization in the latter half of the year,” said Beth Seidenberg, M.D., partner at Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers and a member of the Auxogyn board of directors.

About Eeva(TM)Auxogyn’s non-invasive early embryo viability assessment (Eeva) system may improve IVF outcomes by providing IVF clinicians and patients with objective information on embryo viability. Eeva’s proprietary software automatically analyzes embryo development against scientifically and clinically validated cell-division timing parameters. With Eeva’s quantitative data on each embryos’ potential development, IVF clinicians can optimize the treatment path for their patients undergoing IVF procedures.

About Kleiner Perkins Caufield & ByersSince its founding in 1972, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has backed entrepreneurs in more than 500 ventures including AOL, Amazon.com, Citrix, Compaq, Electronic Arts, Genentech, Genomic Health, Google, Intuit, Juniper Networks, Netscape, Sun, Symantec, Verisign, WebMD and Zynga. KPCB portfolio companies employ more than 350,000 people worldwide. More than 150 of the firm’s portfolio companies have gone public, and many other KPCB ventures have achieved success through mergers and acquisitions. KPCB focuses its global investments in three practice areas - digital, greentech and life sciences - and provides entrepreneurs with company-building expertise out of its offices in Silicon Valley, Beijing and Shanghai.

About TPG BiotechTPG Biotech is part of the growth equity and venture investment platform of TPG, the global private investment firm. With more than $1 billion under management, TPG Biotech targets investments in pharmaceutical discovery and development, medical technology, diagnostics, healthcare and pharmaceutical services, life sciences, as well as industrial applications of biotechnology. TPG Biotech’s investments in personalized medicine and genomics have included such companies as Genomic Health, XDx, CardioDx and Veracyte.

About Merck Serono VenturesMerck Serono Ventures is the strategic, corporate venture capital fund of Merck Serono, the division for biopharmaceuticals of Merck KGaA. The fund invests in emerging biotechnology companies with the potential to provide breakthrough medical solutions in Merck Serono’s focus therapeutic areas: Oncology, Neurodegenerative Diseases, Rheumatology, Fertility and Endocrinology. In addition, Merck Serono Ventures invests in companies developing innovative technologies that could enable the discovery and development of new products in its core therapeutic areas.

About AuxogynAuxogyn, Inc. is focused on advancing the field of reproductive health through its uniquely-combined knowledge of early human developmental biology, advanced computer vision technology and best clinical practices. The company’s first product, Early Embryo Viability Assessment (Eeva), provides quantitative information regarding embryo development, to assist IVF clinicians in optimizing the treatment path for their patients undergoing IVF procedures. Auxogyn is privately held and funded by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, TPG Biotech and Merck Serono Ventures.


OpenX Technologies Recruits Online Advertising Exec

OpenX Technologies, a global provider of digital advertising technology, has appointed senior online advertising industry executive Eric Rosenthal as general manager of the company’s enterprise business. OpenX Technologies is based in Los Angeles and is backed by investors including Accel Partners, Index Ventures, SAP Ventures, AOL Ventures, Mitsui & Co. Global Investment Presidio Ventures and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures.

PRESS RELEASE

OpenX Technologies, Inc. (OpenX), the world’s leading independent provider of digital advertising technology, today announced the appointment of senior online advertising industry executive Eric Rosenthal as General Manager of the company’s Enterprise business. In the newly created role, Rosenthal will be responsible for rapidly increasing adoption of OpenX Enterprise, the company’s paradigm-shifting Software as a Service revenue serving platform. The appointment is immediately effective.

Launched in February 2011, OpenX Enterprise is the company’s digital ad technology platform that combines the capabilities of a true premium ad server with new, advanced ad exchange technology which enables publishers to maximize yield across all their ad revenue channels in real-time. Specifically, unified real-time ad decisions allow publishers to maximize the value of every ad impression, including allowing them to take full advantage of a wide range of Real-Time Bidding buyers in a controlled way. Combined with groundbreaking ad operations tools, highly sophisticated data capabilities, and massively flexible architecture with complete APIs, OpenX Enterprise solves some of the most fundamental challenges facing publishers.

“We’re very pleased that Eric is joining the team and look forward to him using his deep experience and knowledge of the industry to help grow our business and continue furthering the global adoption of OpenX Enterprise,” said Tim Cadogan, chief executive officer, OpenX. “Eric brings a wealth of experience from working directly with publishers and has a rare knowledge and understanding of what they need in today’s rapidly changing online advertising ecosystem to be successful.”

Prior to joining OpenX, Rosenthal was at AOL where he was Vice President of National Sales and a member of the executive team that led Publisher Partner Development for AOL’s Rich Media Ad Serving platform (Pictela) for both publishers and agencies. In 2011, Rosenthal’s team achieved a tenfold increase in revenue. Rosenthal also brings experience as Senior Sales Director at DoubleClick (now Google DoubleClick) where he helped generate an annual run rate of more than $50M. Prior to AOL, Rosenthal was Vice President of Sales at Kyte (now Kit Digital), a leading online, social media and mobile video platform for live and on-demand content, where he increased revenues by more than 200%.

“I’m extremely excited to join OpenX and help publishers maximize their ad revenue through OpenX’s unique revenue serving vision,” said Eric Rosenthal, general manager, Enterprise. “OpenX had an incredible 2011 with hundreds of publishers signing up to use OpenX Enterprise. It’s truly a great time to be joining the team and helping to scale the business.”

Rosenthal began his career as Regional Sales Manager at Verizon Business before holding roles at Solbright (now part of Operative) and Panther CDN (now CDNetworks). He is a graduate of Ithaca College and holds an MBA in Marketing from The George Washington University School of Business.

About OpenX

OpenX is the world’s leading independent provider of digital advertising technology that enables businesses to manage and maximize their ad revenue. OpenX products, including OpenX Enterprise and OpenX Market, provide a comprehensive revenue serving platform by combining ad serving with a unique ad exchange.

OpenX Technologies, Inc. is based in Los Angeles and is backed by leading investors including Accel Partners, Index Ventures, SAP Ventures, AOL Ventures, Mitsui & Co. Global Investment, Inc., Presidio Ventures and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures.

OpenX is a trademark of OpenX Limited.

SOURCE: OpenX Technologies, Inc.


Goldsmith in Line Up for Petroplus Plants

More potential buyers lined up for the assets of insolvent refiner Petroplus on Thursday, with private equity group Goldsmith registering interest in all five of its plants, writes Reuters. Swiss-based Petroplus is filing for insolvency after battling with high debt and poor refining margins.

Reuters - More potential buyers lined up for the assets of insolvent refiner Petroplus on Thursday, with private equity group Goldsmith registering interest in all five of its plants.

Swiss-based Petroplus, Europe’s largest independent refinery by capacity, is filing for insolvency after battling with high debt and poor refining margins.

The company was forced to close three of its refineries, including Petit Couronne in France, after lenders froze credit lines late in December.

Goldsmith, already a shareholder in Petroplus through a fund, said it had registered its interest with the refiner’s administrators in Germany, Britain and Switzerland.

“Petroplus’ refinery businesses in Germany, Britain and Switzerland, but also in France and Belgium, are sustainable and interesting, despite the current difficulties in this sector,” Goldsmith Group said in a statement.

Goldsmith plans to carry out due diligence on parts of the business in Belgium and France, it said.

A spokesman for the administrators of the Petroplus Ingolstadt refinery in Germany declined to comment on possible investors.

French Energy Minister Eric Besson told France Info radio there were a number of potential buyers for the Petroplus French refinery at Petit Couronne.

Swiss investment vehicle Gary Klesch Group said last week it was considering purchasing the French plant, which stopped production last month, and possibly other refineries owned by Petroplus.

Besson said he hoped he could announce the restart of the refinery within the next 15 days.

The company’s UK refinery at Coryton has attracted more than 40 interested parties, UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry said.

“I understand there have been over 40 expressions of interest in Coryton from companies around the world, which is extremely encouraging. Work will now focus on securing a sustainable long-term future for the refinery,” Hendry said.

DOUBTS

Founded by German businessman Clemens J. Vedder in 2007, Goldsmith dropped out of a bidding race in 2009 for German retailer Metro’s department store chain Kaufhof.

Industry analysts said they doubted private equity groups would be able to turn around Petroplus, because the structural problems facing European refiners had defeated even the biggest oil companies.

Poor margins have forced several European refiners to put plants on the market, and some have been unable to find buyers.

“The majors could not make money out of those assets, and now you have some private equity groups, be it Klesch or Goldsmith, that supposedly can make it better. I doubt it very much,” said Olivier Jakob, an energy analyst at consultancy Petromatrix.

“In the long term, those refineries need somebody involved in the oil trade - a supplier from ex-Russian republics or Asia, not just a financial group that just buys something distressed and then tries to sell it two years afterwards.”

The leveraged finance market, one way private equity groups raise money for purchases, is difficult to tap, bankers say, casting some doubt on the number of potential buyers for Petroplus.

“We need to take things with a pinch of salt. Most oil companies and private equity companies will have, at the very least, kicked the tyres and attempted to get as much information as possible. How many of them are serious (and at what price) is another matter,” said one analyst who has looked at Petroplus.

Refining industry analyst Roy Jordan at Facts Global Energy says more closures are needed for processing margins to recover.

“We can see nothing on the horizon which would provide relief to existing European refiners without a reduction in capacity,” Jordan said. “We cannot see a future for new investment in European refinery distillation capacity. And it is difficult to see how deals with large debt and leverage would be attractive on a sustained basis.”

Shares in Petroplus have plunged since lenders froze credit lines in late December. They jumped 73.4 percent to 1.11 Swiss francs at 1619 GMT.


Hutchison to Buy Orange Austria from France Telecom

Hong Kong’s Hutchison 3G will buy Orange Austria from France Telecom and a private equity fund in a deal valued at 1.3 billion euros ($1.7 billion) including debt, writes Reuters. The deal by the unit of Hutchison Whampoa follows a cluster of outbound M&A transactions from Asia in early 2012 as firms with large cash piles and low debt buy assets in Europe, where economies are struggling with the debt crisis, writes Reuters.

Reuters - Hong Kong’s Hutchison 3G will buy Orange Austria from France Telecom and a private equity fund in a deal valued at 1.3 billion euros ($1.7 billion) including debt, expanding the corporate footprint in Europe of one of Asia’s richest men.

The deal by the unit of Hutchison Whampoa follows a cluster of outbound M&A transactions from Asia in early 2012 as firms with large cash piles and low debt buy assets in Europe, where economies are struggling with the debt crisis.

Hutchison said on Friday it would buy 100 percent of Orange Austria, confirming an earlier Reuters story. Hutchison shares rose as much as 3.8 percent to HK$76.20 on the news, bucking a flat overall market.

Hutchison, controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, has been shopping for regulated infrastructure and utility assets in developed countries, especially Britain, which is open to foreign ownership of its infrastructure assets.

“It is definitely a positive for the future development as the acquisition cost can be lower in the current economic climate,” said Conita Hung, head of equity research at Delta Asia Financial Group.

“It is a good opportunity for those financially strong companies to buy assets in Europe, especially if they believe in the strong growth prospect,” she said.

Li’s business empire bought British utility Northumbrian Water Group for 2.41 billion pounds ($3.81 billion) last year, having paid 5.8 billion pounds to buy the British electricity distribution network of France EDF in 2010.

Li, a high-school drop-out nicknamed “Superman” by Hong Kong media for his deal-making savvy, started out with a plastic flower business and now has a global empire with 26,000 employees in 55 countries.

So far in 2012, Asian corporates have launched about $9.3 billion worth of outbound deals, compared with $181 billion worth transactions attempted the whole of last year, according to Thomson Reuters data.

High-profile deals this year include Shandong Heavy Industry Group’s purchase of a 75 percent stake in debt-laden Italian yacht-maker Ferretti Group and China Investment Corp’s purchase of an 8.7 percent stake in the holding company of Thames Water, the privately held UK utility.

No.3 IN AUSTRIA

Hutchison 3G Austria already operates under the ‘3′ brand, competing against Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile and A1.

Hutchison said the deal would make it Austria’s third-biggest mobile phone operator, with 2.8 million customers and a 22 percent market share. The two units had combined revenues of more than 700 million euros in 2011.

“Overall, we do think the deal offers one of the few relatively visible paths to long-term sustained profitability for 3 Austria,” Bank of America/Merrill Lynch said in a report.

As a second leg of the deal, Hutchison will sell some of Orange Austria’s assets to Telekom Austria for 390 million euros, Telekom said separately.

The assets comprise frequencies, base station sites, mobile phone operator YESSS! Telekommunikation GmbH and certain intellectual property rights, the statement added.

Hutch’s net consideration is 900 million euros, giving the business an enterprise value to EBITDA multiple of 6.9 times.

Bank of America/Merrill Lynch said that the multiple paid by Hutch “is at the high end of comparable private transaction multiples, but below the 7.6 previously speculated.”

EXIT LOW-GROWTH MARKETS

For France Telecom, the sale is the second deal in an ongoing portfolio review aimed at exiting low-growth mature markets and returning cash to shareholders. It recently agreed to sell Orange Switzerland to private equity group Apax Partners for about 1.6 billion euros.

Orange Austria is jointly owned by France Telecom and Mid-Europa Partners.

France Telecom said it expected cash proceeds of 70 million euros from the sale of its 35 percent equity stake in the Austrian business, which had around 1 billion euros of debt. It described the move as “another milestone in the optimisation” of its asset portfolio following the Swiss transaction.

The French company will likely now announce a share buyback programme for up to around 800 million euros, or half of the proceeds of the two sales, according to Raymond James analysts.

“This would also leave more than enough to pay for half of the acquisition of minority interests in Mobistar while the other half would be paid by potential tax synergies,” the analysts said, referring to the Belgian mobile phone operator in which France Telecom is majority shareholder.

Shares in France Telecom were down slightly, in line with the French bluechip CAC 40 index, and have fallen about 5.5 percent so far this year.

Hutchison also owns 3G wireless network operations in Britain, Italy and Australia, among other countries. It competes with Britain’s biggest mobile operator, Everything Everywhere — a joint venture of Orange and T-Mobile — Telefonica SA’s O2 and Vodafone Group Plc.

The wireless business had been losing money over the past decade, but broke even in the second half of 2010 and recovered further last year. Hutchison said it was expected to contribute to the conglomerate’s profits in the second half of 2011.

J.P. Morgan advised Hutchison group on the purchase, while Morgan Stanley advised the sellers, a source familiar with the process said. The source was not authorised to speak to the media.


Peele Named COO of Surefire Social

Ron Peele was named chief operating officer of Surefire Social. He is also an investor in Surefire Social, an Internet marketing platform. Peele was a founding investor and CFO of Revolution Health. Prior to that, he helped launch and build the AOL/Time Warner venture capital group.

PRESS RELEASE

Surefire SocialĀ®, creator of an end-to-end digital marketing solution that helps businesses become more visible in search and discovery, announced today that Ron Peele has been appointed to the role of Chief Operating Officer.
In addition to being named COO, Peele is also an investor in Surefire Social, where he joins former AOL executive and colleague, Chris Marentis, Surefire Social’s founder and CEO.
As COO, Peele will work to amplify Surefire’s growth by establishing a strong operations division, enhancing processes and systems and securing strategic partnerships. With Peele’s investment, the company is focusing on recruitment of key talent to its experienced team, as the company is strategically positioned for growing with existing accounts and acquiring new customers with a limited ramp-up time.
With more than 25 years of experience as both an investor and operating executive, Peele has built innovative companies that create and define new markets. Recently, Peele was a founding investor and CFO of Revolution Health, where he worked closely with Steve Case from the company’s inception. Prior to that, Peele helped launch and build the AOL/Time Warner venture capital group, which invested $250 million in a portfolio of 70 companies.
Ron Peele said, “It’s a great time for small businesses to be able to leverage the capabilities of local search and social networks to generate sales, but the digital marketing landscape can be confusing and it is constantly changing. I’m excited to be part of a company focused on providing America’s small businesses the platform, technology and coaching to stay relevant and grow their businesses.”
Chris Marentis, who founded Surefire Social in 2009, said, “As we continue our rapid growth, an experienced COO like Ron, who has invested in and transitioned new platform and technology companies into market leaders, will help drive Surefire Social’s ongoing evolution.”
About Surefire Social
Surefire Social is an integrated Internet marketing platform and services company that helps businesses optimize local search and discovery to generate sales.