Sonenshine Partners Advises Court Square and Data Axle on sale of Anne Lewis Strategies to Stone-Goff Partners
Anne Lewis Strategies utilizes technology and data to drive superior digital fundraising results for its clients.
New York, NY March 15 2021 – Sonenshine Partners has advised Data Axle (f.k.a. Infogroup) on the sale of Anne Lewis Strategies, LLC (“ALSL”), the leading provider of tech-enabled business services that support nonprofit and political clients in digital fundraising, to Stone-Goff Partners (“SGP”). The transaction was a corporate carveout from Data Axle, a big data portfolio company of Court Square Capital. SGP’s investment will support further growth for ALSL, including the continued development of new service offerings. Sonenshine Partners served as investment banker to Data Axle, Court Square and Anne Lewis Strategies in this transaction.
Anne Lewis is widely regarded as #1 in the high growth digital marketing arena for mission driven clients. Founded in 2007, Anne Lewis Strategies provides a full suite of integrated marketing solutions that connect clients with donors to improve digital fundraising results. The Company utilizes technology and data across its services and has raised nearly $1 billion online on behalf of its clients since inception.
ALSL has pioneered a digital data co-op, Advantage AI, leveraging behavioral data to create new donor relationships for over 100 active clients across the political and nonprofit sectors, including 8 of the Forbes’ top 100 nonprofit organizations. ALSL has over 75 employees and is headquartered in Washington DC, with additional offices in New York and Oakland.
In addition to Sonenshine Partners as investment banker, legal counsel for Data Axle and Anne Lewis Strategies was provided by Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP. Fredrikson & Byron represented Stone-Goff. Stellus Capital Management provided debt financing for the transaction.
SP Advised Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings) Limited (SEHK:2689) on its entry into the North American market via its $175 million acquisition of the Rumford and Biron Pulp and Paper Mills from Catalyst Paper Corporation
SP was retained by ND Paper, the largest containerboard producer in China, to advise its management team on the execution of the company’s global fiber sourcing and customer strategy. Established in 1995 and listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, ND Paper operates 9 mills in China and Vietnam with total annual production capacity of over 14 million metric tons, generates revenues of US $6.8 billion and has a market capitalization of HK $58.2 billion (US $7.4 billion). The company selected SP as its exclusive financial advisor due to the firm’s extensive experience and understanding of the paper and packaging industry.
SP worked with ND Paper to identify a range of North American pulp and paper mill assets, eventually advising the company on its strategic purchase of the Rumford and Biron paper mills from Canadian pulp and paper manufacturer, Catalyst Paper, for $175 million. The total consideration represented a multiple of less than 6x LTM EBITDA as of March 31, 2018 and less than 4x EBITDA based on the Q1 2018 annualized rate. Simultaneously during the process, SP advised ND Paper on establishing its North American headquarters, which will serve as the corporate office managing the company’s North American operations.
Marking ND Paper’s entry into the North American market, the acquisition provides access to high quality virgin fiber and diversifies the company’s manufacturing base. This acquisition also enhances the company’s capability to provide competitive products and better serve its global customer base.
SP Advised IRIS The Visual Group on Various Business Initiatives, a Debt Financing and its Strategic Sale to New Look Vision Group (TSE:BCI)
Founded by optometrist Dr. Francis Jean, IRIS The Visual Group grew to become one of Canada’s leading doctor-centric retail eye care chains with close to 150 locations across Canada. Following the untimely passing of Dr. Jean, who had led the Company for close to twenty-five years, SP was retained by IRIS’ board of directors to advise on strategic and financial alternatives for the business.
During the course of its work with the Company, SP also advised IRIS on numerous business initiatives aimed at improving the profitability of the Company and attractiveness to potential buyers, including naming a successor CEO recommended by SP, closing unprofitable operations, and recommending an acquisition program to grow the store base. SP also arranged a revolving credit facility from Bank of Montreal to support new acquisitions.
SP also advised on the sale of IRIS to publicly-listed New Look Vision Group for C$120 million. The strategic combination created the largest retail eye care chain in Canada and the 8th largest in North America. For the members of the Jean family, who were the largest shareholders in the Company, the deal represented a successful outcome both financially and in transitioning ownership of the Company to a buyer who would continue the vision of the late Dr. Jean.
SP Advised Incadea plc (AIM:INCA) on its $190 Million Strategic Sale to Dealertrack Technologies (Nasdaq:TRAK)
SP was retained by Incadea, a leading enterprise software provider to approximately 3,500 automotive dealers and wholesalers across 87 countries, to advise its board of directors on a review of strategic alternatives for the Company. Headquartered in Munich but publicly listed on London’s AIM stock exchange, the Company was significantly undervalued due to its depressed profitability and cash flows as the Company was heavily investing in new OEM projects. Incadea’s software was newer and nimbler than the offerings of existing market incumbents, and the Company was rapidly gaining traction, particularly in emerging markets.
SP advised the Company on a strategic sale to US-based Dealertrack Technologies. The $190 million (£120 million) transaction represented a stock premium of over 70% from the time at which SP became involved with the Company and implied enterprise value multiples of over 3x Revenue and 19x EBITDA.
The transaction represented a highly successful outcome for the Company’s public shareholders, management and employees. Dealertrack Technologies acquired a market-leading dealer management system platform and later merged into Cox Automotive.
SP Advised Optical Distributor Group in its $350 Million Sale to New Mountain Capital Portfolio Company ABB-Concise
SP was retained by the founders of Optical Distributor Group (“ODG”), the second-largest distributor of contact lenses and ophthalmic products to doctor’s offices and opticians in the U.S., to advise on a potential sale of the business. Since its founding, ODG had established in less than nine years a nationwide customer base of 12,000 eye care practitioners, to which ODG was distributing contact lenses and other ophthalmic products as well as providing value-added business services including individualized websites, in-depth business reviews and outsourced lab services.
SP ran a competitive auction process among a list of targeted prospective buyers, including both strategic acquirers as well as select private equity sponsors. As the Company’s largest competitor ABB-Concise (“ABB”) was undergoing a change of ownership during the ODG sale process, SP initiated confidential discussions with ABB’s new private equity investor New Mountain Capital, culminating in a merger of the two competitors financed by New Mountain Capital. Today, the merged business does business as ABB Optical Group and has over $1.2 billion in sales.
SP Advised 1-800 CONTACTS on multiple transactions: Divestitures, a Go-Private Transaction, a Strategic Partnership with Walmart and its $900 Million Strategic Sale to WellPoint (n.k.a. Anthem)
SP advised the management and board of directors of 1-800 CONTACTS, the leading U.S. direct-to-consumer marketer of contact lenses, over many years and involving multiple transactions. When SP was initially engaged, the Company was publicly-listed but trading below its intrinsic value. SP worked with the Company to map out a strategy to maximize value by exploring a go-private transaction for obtaining maximum value for their public shareholders, divesting certain unprofitable assets and continuing growing the Company under private ownership.
SP advised on the sale of the Company to private equity firm Fenway Partners with participation by the founder and senior officers for approximately $350 million. The Company separately divested its ClearLab lens manufacturing subsidiary and related lens technology to two different international buyers in Korea and Japan.
SP continued advising the Company, including on 1-800 CONTACTS’s ground-breaking strategic partnership with Walmart that significantly added scale to the Company. Several years later, SP represented the Company in on its $900 million strategic sale to WellPoint (n.k.a. Anthem). The aforementioned series of transactions created significant value to all parties.
The Firm is a global leader in the Optical category. This reflects among other things the earlier experience of the firm’s Founder and Managing Partner as banker to LensCrafters, advising that Company on its global strategy and M&A program and ultimately negotiating its merger into Luxottica SpA, the world’s largest optical retailer. The Firm would later complete other transactions with Luxottica and with Essilor, the world’s largest ophthalmic lens manufacturer and with 1-800 Contacts and ABB Concise, the world’s largest contact lens ecommerce and distribution players. The Firm has completed deals with numerous optical companies throughout its history in North America, Europe and Asia. The Firm has established a similarly unusual subsector expertise in Audiology, completing deals with companies including Siemens, Zounds and Sivantos.
SP Advised drugstore.com (Nasdaq:DSCM) on its $450M Strategic Sale to Walgreens (NYSE:WAG) achieving a premium of over 100%
SP advised the management and board of directors of publicly-listed drugstore.com, one of the earliest movers in e-commerce of health & wellness products, on various strategic business initiatives as well as ultimately on a sale of the entire company.
SP was initially engaged to work with drugstore.com’s vision subsidiary to identify potential strategic partners, both in the U.S. and internationally. SP successfully negotiated a joint venture with Italy-based Luxottica Group, one of the largest retailers of vision products globally. Around the same time, Walgreens had privately indicated to SP an interest in growing their online presence, and SP recommended an introductory meeting between Walgreens and SP’s client drugstore.com.
SP was retained by drugstore.com to advise its management and board of directors on strategic alternatives, including on a potential deal with Walgreens. Ultimately, the Company agreed to an almost $450 million sale to Walgreens, which represented over a 50x multiple of EBITDA and a 113% one-day premium to drugstore.com’s then stock price. The transaction was a highly successful outcome for the Company’s public shareholders and provided a substantial platform for Walgreens to build its e-commerce presence.
Several years later Walgreens retained SP to advise it on its broader ecommerce strategy. In connection with the review SP represented Walgreens in selling SkinStore.com, the beauty products ecommerce division of drugstore.com, to the Hut Group plc, a private UK E-tailor backed by KKR.
has been sold in a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Process
SP Advised Philadelphia Media Holdings on its Chapter 11 Sale and Restructuring Plan
SP was retained by Philadelphia Media Holdings (“PMH”), the parent company of the metro newspapers Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News as well as website Philly.com, on its restructuring under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
Prior to SP’s involvement, a consortium of investors had purchased PMH from The McClatchy Company for $515 million, and as newspaper companies across the U.S. began to face significant financial pressures, PMH sought to renegotiate with its lenders. After an out-of-court restructuring became impossible, PMH filed for bankruptcy protection and immediately engaged SP as investment banker to the debtor.
SP led a process to arrange Debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing and explore a sale of the Company that would maximize proceeds to the estate. SP arranged a sale of PMH for $139 million, representing the highest price paid for a US newspaper during the industry’s 2009- 2012 period of distress. A consortium of lenders ultimately won an auction for PMH’s assets organized and conducted by SP.
PMH’s bankruptcy case was historic for two reasons: first, it was the highest price paid in bankruptcy for a newspaper chain at the time, and second, it briefly rewrote the rules of “credit bidding” within bankruptcy auctions during a contentious period in US legal history when federal circuit courts of appeals were divided on the meaning of certain technical provisions of the US Bankruptcy Code. SP and PMH counsel successfully developed an integrated transactional and legal strategy that optimized PMH’s economic value.
has completed Multiple Carve-Out Divestitures
SP Advised Alcoa (NYSE:AA) on its Divestitures of Global Aluminum Manufacturing Assets in China and Spain
SP advised one of world’s largest vertically-integrated aluminum producers Alcoa on a complete review of strategic alternatives for its Global Foil strategic business unit, encompassing manufacturing facilities in Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America. The divestiture process took place in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, amidst a global downturn in aluminum prices, that affected all participants within the industry value chain.
SP ran a process that involved both strategic and financial buyers, including potential acquirers of all of the Global Foil operations as well as local buyers for each individual facility.
SP advised on the sale of the Alcoa Shanghai facility to a Chinese state-owned enterprise Yunnan Metallurgical Group and the sale of the Alcoa Sabinanigo (Spain) facility to a European turnaround private equity firm Bavaria Industriekapital. Alcoa also retained certain other manufacturing facilities. SP also provided mission critical strategic advice to Alcoa on its Brazil manufacturing operations. The transactions represented a highly successful outcome for Alcoa and the employees of its Global Foil unit during a difficult time in the world aluminum market.
SP Advised Abaqus on its $425 Million Strategic Sale to Dassault Systèmes (Nasdaq:DASTY)
SP was retained by the founders of ABAQUS, a closely-held provider of complex simulation and visualization software for Fortune 100 clients in automotive, aerospace & defense and manufacturing industries, to advise on a sale of the business. Based in Providence, RI, the Company had a thirty-year operating history and was approaching $100 million in sales. The founders of the business, who had turned over day-to-day operations of the business to its management team, saw the need to realize and diversify their personal wealth as well as align the Company with a strategic partner who could continue the Company’s track record of innovation in the sector.
SP advised the Company on a strategic sale to Paris-based Dassault Systèmes, which was the global leader in CAD/CAM/PLM software. The almost $425 million transaction represented an enterprise value multiple of over 4x revenue. Following the transaction, Dassault Systemes combined ABAQUS’ products with its own simulation solutions under the brand SIMULIA, which today remains one of the leading simulation software tools in the market.
The transaction represented a highly successful outcome for the Company’s founders. The transaction is one of many that SP has advised on in the simulation and visualization software sector.
Stone Goff Partners Has Acquired Anne Lewis Strategiesmore An SP principal advised on this transaction at a predecessor firm
Digital fundraising solutions provider Anne Lewis Strategies, a business unit of Data Axle (portfolio company of Court Square Capital Partners), has been acquired by Stone-Goff Partners. Sonenshine Partners served as exclusive financial advisor to Data Axle and Anne Lewis Strategies.
has raised a Late Stage Venture Round led by
Visibly Inc. has raised Late Stage Venture financingmore An SP principal advised on this transaction at a predecessor firm
Telehealth company Visibly Inc. has raised a Late Stage Venture Round led by KLI Capital and Tensility Ventures. Sonenshine Partners served as exclusive financial advisor to Visibly.
has acquired a controlling stake in
Anthem Sports & Entertainment Has Acquired a controlling stake in AXS TVmore An SP principal advised on this transaction at a predecessor firm
Action sports content company Anthem Sports & Entertainment has acquired a controlling stake in AXS TV from AXS shareholders Mark Cuban, Anschutz Entertainment Group, and CBS. CION Investments and BC Partners provided financing to support the transaction. Sonenshine Partners advised Anthem Sport & Entertainment.
Announced: Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings) Limited Has Acquired the Fairmont Recycled Pulp Mill from Resolute Forest Productsmore An SP principal advised on this transaction at a predecessor firm
Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings) Limited (SEHK:2689) has completed its acquisition of the Fairmont, West Virginia recycled pulp mill from Resolute Forest Products Inc. (NYSE:RFP) for US $62 million plus certain elements of working capital. Sonenshine Partners served as exclusive financial advisor to Nine Dragons Paper.
Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings) Limited Has Acquired the Rumford and Biron Pulp and Paper Mills from Catalyst Paper Corporationmore An SP principal advised on this transaction at a predecessor firm
SP Advised Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings) Limited (SEHK:2689) on its entry into the North American market via its $175 million acquisition of the Rumford and Biron Pulp and Paper Mills from Catalyst Paper Corporation. Sonenshine Partners served as exclusive financial advisor to Nine Dragons Paper.
Sivantos Has Acquired TruHearingmore An SP principal advised on this transaction at a predecessor firm
Audiology technology leader Sivantos USA enters into a strategic partnership with TruHearing, a leading hearing healthcare benefits solution provider. Sonenshine Partners served as exclusive financial advisor to Sivantos.
has acquired certain assets of
Mentice Has Acquired Certain Assets of Medical Simulation Corpmore An SP principal advised on this transaction at a predecessor firm
Mentice, global leader of simulation-based performance solutions for endovascular therapies, acquires Medical Simulation Corporation’s (MSC) Medical Products division. Sonenshine Partners served as exclusive financial advisor to Mentice.
New Look Vision Group Has Acquired IRIS The Visual Groupmore An SP principal advised on this transaction at a predecessor firm
IRIS The Visual Group has been acquired by New Look Vision Group (TSX:BCI)
Sonenshine Partners served as exclusive financial advisor to Iris, le groupe visuel (1990) Inc.
has completed an Initial Public Offering ("IPO")
Surgical Science Sweden Has Completed an Initial Public Offering ("IPO")more An SP principal advised on this transaction at a predecessor firm
Nasdaq (Nasdaq: NDAQ) announced that the trading in Surgical Science Sweden AB’s shares (short name: SUS) on Nasdaq First North in Stockholm.
has acquired an equity stake in
KD Pharma Has Acquired An Equity Stake In Nutriceutical Holdingsmore An SP principal advised on this transaction at a predecessor firm
KD Pharma Group has invested in Nutriceutical Holdings, the parent company of Physician Recommended Nutriceuticals (PRN) and Veterinarian Recommended Solutions (VRS)
Sonenshine Partners served as exclusive financial advisor to Nutriceutical Holdings, LLC