Topping the M&A romance chart this Valentine's week is SoftBank's $3.3 billion deal, unveiled Tuesday, to buy New York-based alternative investment manager Fortress Investment Group ( (FIG) ) in a transaction that marks SoftBank's foray into the asset management business in the U.S.
With the purchase, Softbank gains a savvy partner in wireless telecommunications.
SoftBank has made a huge bet on the U.S. wireless market. Tokyo-based SoftBank invested $21.6 billion in Sprint ( (S) ) in 2013, and is widely expected to pursue a merger of the company with T-Mobile USA ( (TMUS) ).
Fortress, Centerbridge Partners, and JPMorgan Chase control Ligado Networks, the former LightSquared. The investors backed the exit from bankruptcy in 2015 of the venture that Philip Falcone had founded. Ligado is lobbying the Federal Communications Commission to let it provide broadband service, arguing that its spectrum could support the Internet of Things and 5G wireless, the next generation of mobile broadband.
Ligado's board is a who's who of telecom, including chairman Ivan Seidenberg, the former chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications ( (VZ) ); former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt; and Timothy Donahue, who was chairman of Sprint before SoftBank's investment. Fortress' managing director, Andrew McKnight, a former trader for hedge fund Fir Tree Partners and a veteran of Goldman Sachs' distressed trading desk, also sits on the board.
Another Fortress portfolio company, NRJ TV, bought up low-priced TV stations in big cities with an eye to selling broadcast spectrum in an FCC auction.
Ahead of the auction, BIA/Kelsey reported that NRJ purchased 15 stations valued at $235.5 million. Wells Fargo Securities noted recently that NRJ acquired stations in top Nielsen markets such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco and others.
Besides the SoftBank-Fortress deal, M&A activity this week included back-to-back transactions in the medical aesthetics sector.
Pharmaceutical firm Allergan ( (AGN) ), a holding in the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio managed by Jim Cramer, on Monday announced a deal to buy fat-freezing company Zeltiq Aesthetics ( (ZLTQ) ) for $56.50 per share, or about $2.475 billion. "You can't ignore that the hottest trend in the aesthetics profession is the rest of the body ... this allows us to move into the hottest area," said Allergan CEO Brent Saunders on a conference call on Monday, referring to body contouring.
The following day, diagnostics company Hologic ( (HOLX) ) said it is buying Cynosure ( (CYNO) ), a maker of non-invasive treatment systems for procedures ranging from tattoo removal to cellulite reduction, for $66 per share in cash. The deal equates to an equity value of about $1.65 billion and an enterprise value of $1.44 billion net of cash. "While it's a larger deal than we expected at this point, the unique nature of Cynosure prompted us to act," Hologic chairman and CEO Stephen MacMillan told investors on a call Tuesday.
Meanwhile, love was decidedly not in the air for health insurers.
On the same day, Cigna ( (CI) ) filed a lawsuit seeking the Delaware Chancery Court's greenlight to terminate its merger agreement with Anthem ( (ANTM) ) and collect a $1.85 billion reverse breakup fee after a federal judge ruled last week to block the deal. In addition, Cigna is seeking more than $13 billion in damages from Anthem. Anthem shot back on Wednesday, filing a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order to enjoin Cigna from terminating the merger.
—Bill McConnell and Sarah Pringle contributed to this report.