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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Coming and Going

Our reader poll this week asks whether one of L.A.’s few unicorns, Honest Co., should continue to look for an acquirer, as has been reported, or pursue an exit through a public offering. A slim majority – and our results are by no means scientific – thinks going public is the way for the beauty and skin care products firm co-founded by Brian Lee and Jessica Alba to give liquidity to its investors.

At the same time, the market is abuzz with talk that Snap Inc., once known as Snapchat, is looking at a public offering next year that would value the company at $25 billion. If that happens, a company that didn’t exist five years ago would be the biggest public company, by market cap, headquartered in the city of Los Angeles. Go figure.

Meantime, back in the middle market, business continues to churn. The region is alive with activity, a slice of which we report on in this issue.

Two decent-size transactions were announced last week: Tyson Foods, a giant meat producer, took an equity stake in Beyond Meat, the El Segundo maker of vegetarian food crafted to look and taste like animal protein; and Minneapolis-based Polaris Industries gobbled up Compton’s Transamerican Auto Parts in a $665 million deal.

Not every local company is a target. Ad tech company Engage:BDR continues to roll up smaller businesses that supplement its offerings, one of several in the space that is in expansion mode. And Peter Guber and Earvin “Magic” Johnson have partnered again, this time to take a stake in an e-sports franchise.

What does it all tell us? For one thing, it confirms that Los Angeles remains a middle-market town. There are seven public companies in Los Angeles County with market caps greater than $10 billion (not one in the city – c’mon, Snap!), and yet the L.A. statistical region has the second-highest gross domestic product in the nation. The clusters are here, the talent is here. Any investor looking for an opportunity to invest or acquire would do well to come shopping here.

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