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Big Pay Day for Southwest Pilots

Wells Fargo employees voted in favor of unionizing, Citi is exiting distressed debt trading, Fed’s Harker says rates should move down but not immediately, Milei is privatizing Argentinian companies, US 30-year mortgage rates hit lowest level since June, and Southwest pilots are looking at a 50% pay bump.

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Wells Fargo employees voted in favor of unionizing, Citi is exiting distressed debt trading, Fed’s Harker says rates should move down but not immediately, Milei is privatizing Argentinian companies, US 30-year mortgage rates hit lowest level since June, and Southwest pilots are looking at a 50% pay bump.

Looking to upgrade your private equity chops in 2024? Wharton Online and Wall Street Prep just opened enrollment for their Winter Cohort for their Private Equity Certificate Program, and you can sign up here.

Let’s dive in.

Before The Bell

As of 12/20/2023 market close.


  • US stocks fell as investors cashed in profits, snapping a 9-day win streak

    • The Nasdaq led indices with a 1.50% decline

  • London’s FTSE rose 1.02% after UK inflation fell by more than expected to hit 3.9%


  • Micron shares jumped ~4% after beating Q1 earnings expectations and forecasting better-than-expected quarterly revenue (RT

  • What we're watching this week: 

    • Today: Nike, Carnival 

  • Full calendar here

Headline Roundup

  • Wells Fargo employees vote in favor of unionization (CNBC)

  • Citigroup is exiting distressed debt trading (BBG)

  • Fed’s Harker says rates should move down but not immediately (BBG)

  • Vilified zero-day options blamed by traders for S&P decline (BBG)

  • A $1.3T home-loan system gone astray is fighting an overhaul (BBG)

  • Biden administration explores raising tariffs on Chinese EVs (WSJ)

  • Milei sets up Aerolineas and YPF for privatization in Argentina (BBG)

  • US crude oil, gasoline stocks rise as refineries ramp up runs (WSJ)

  • US 30-year mortgage rate slides to 6.83%, lowest since June (BBG)

  • Americans freed by Venezuela in US prisoner swap land at Texas base (RT)

  • Egypt seeks to broker Gaza ceasefire as Hamas, Israel assert demands (RT)

  • Southwest Airlines pilots strike tentative deal for 50% pay raise (WSJ)

  • Bankers see $1T blue-chip loan market turnaround after slow 2023 (BBG)

  • Toyota recalling 1.12M vehicles over potential air bag issue (RT)

  • Argentina tests markets with biggest-ever sale of peso notes (BBG)

  • Apple ramps up Vision Pro production, aiming for launch by February (BBG)

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Deal Flow

M&A / Investments

  • $28.4B Warner Bros Discovery recently held preliminary talks to merge with Paramount Global, which has a $10.3B market cap, potentially combining two of the biggest media companies in the world (BBG

  • Management-consulting firm Aon will buy privately-held insurance company NFP in ~$13.4B cash-and-stock deal (RT)

  • US PE firm General Atlantic is in talks to acquire infrastructure fund manager Actis, which has $12.7B AUM (FT

  • Telecom Swisscom is weighing an offer for Vodafone Group’s Italian business early next year, potentially countering a rival bid from Iliad that values the business at $11.4B (BBG

  • PE firm Warburg Pincus is working with former Credit Suisse chair Sir António Horta-Osório on a $6.6B+ bid for Altice’s Portuguese telecoms assets (FT

  • Buyout firm Leonard Green & Partners is nearing a $3.8B deal to acquire Iris Software from rival Hg (BBG

  • Paramount Global is in talks to sell its Black Entertainment Television network to a management-led investor group; a price tag of ~$2B has been discussed (BBG

  • BPEA EQT is considering selling Pioneer amid takeover interest; the buyout firm could seek to value the iconic Japanese electronics maker at ~$1.5B (BBG

  • Italy is reviewing the $1.5B planned acquisition of Prelios by Andrea Pignataro's ION Group following a string of high-profile deals (RT

  • Spain's Santander acquired a 20% stake in a $9B multifamily real estate portfolio from the FDIC for $1.1B (RT)


  • GreyOrange, a robotics startup building warehouse and fulfillment robots, raised a $135M Series D led by Anthelion Capital (TC)

  • Sudo Biosciences, a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing TYK2 inhibitors, raised a $116M Series B led by Enavate Sciences and TPG (BW)

  • Link11, a German-based specialized IT security provider, raised $29M in funding led by Pride Capital Partners (FN)

  • Phosphorus, a cybersecurity startup for IoT, raised a $27M Series A-2 led by Evolution Equity Partners (VC)

  • In-person and virtual weight-inclusive primary care and metabolic health company Knownwell raised a $20M Series A led by a16z (BW)

  • Re-commerce marketplace Soum raised an $18M Series A led by Jahez Group (TC)

  • Smartpricing, an Italian hotel and apartment revenue management software provider, raised $14.2M in funding led by Partech (FN)

  • Tres, a comprehensive accounting and financial data reporting platform for crypto assets, raised an $11M Series A led by CEO Tal Zackon (FN)

  • PaintJet, a startup building industrial robots to automate industrial painting, raised a $10M Series A led by Outsiders Fund (TC)

  • Blockchain-based micropayments and financial inclusion startup Centi raised a $10M seed round led by Archblock and Bloomhaus Ventures (PRN)

  • Skyline Robotics, the developers of robotic-armed window cleaning robot Ozmo, raised a $9.8M pre-Series A-2 led by Standard Skyline (BW)

  • Metrion Biosciences, an ion channel drug discovery company, raised $4.6M in new funding led by Maven Capital Partners (BW)

  • Claim, a social network and rewards app, raised a $4M seed round led by Sequoia Capital (TC)

  • Korean global recruitment platform Redrob raised a $4M seed round led by Murex Partners and DS & Partners (FN)

  • ElastiFlow, an Oakland, CA-based provider of network observability solutions, raised a $3M seed round led by Venture Guides (FN)

  • Xploro, a pediatric digital health startup, raised a $1.7M seed round led by Boomerang Ventures (PRN)

IPO / Direct Listings / Issuances / Block Trades

  • Apollo-owned Aspen Insurance filed for a US IPO at an estimated $4B valuation; Apollo took the insurer private in a $2.6B cash deal in 2019 (RT

  • Abu Dhabi healthcare platform PureHealth Holding shares rose as much as 69% in its debut day of trading after its ~$1B IPO (RT

  • Doms Industries, a maker of pencils and erasers controlled by Italy’s Fila, surged 68% in its debut day of trading; the company’s market value briefly cross $1B (BBG)  

  • Saudi Arabian low-cost airline Flynas, which is backed by billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, is seeking a potential IPO in Riyadh (BBG


  • A group of private credit lenders led by Goldman Sachs Asset Management agreed to provide $1.4B of debt to help EQT finance its acquisition of medical device firm Zeus Company (BBG

  • Britain’s largest pub chain, Stonegate Pub, is raising $808M through a fresh financing agreement (BBG

Bankruptcy / Restructuring

  • Creditors of Brazilian retailer Americanas approved a restructuring plan that features a $2.5B capital injection by main shareholders (RT

  • Electric scooter company Bird Global, which went public through a SPAC in 2021, filed for bankruptcy (WSJ

  • Real estate developer China Aoyuan Group is seeking Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in New York (BBG)  


  • Morgan Stanley is discussing injecting $1B-$2B from its balance sheet, and raising a total of $4-5B including outside investments, for a new private credit fund (BBG

  • Singapore-based PE firm Novo Tellus closed its Novo Tellus PE Fund 3 at $510M (FN)

Crypto Corner

  • Representatives from BlackRock, Nasdaq, and the SEC met to discuss rule changes necessary to list the Bitcoin ETF (CD

  • A judge denied SBF’s request to extend his sentencing process (CD

Exec’s Picks

  • The New York Times discussed how the situation in the Red Sea will disrupt trade.

  • Noah Smith explored how the US managed to achieve a soft landing.

  • Katie Gatti Tassin discussed whether or not Robo-advisor fees are worth the cost.

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