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Al Jazeera Buys Al Gore’s Current TV

“Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based cable- news channel, acquired Current TV, the network founded by former Vice President Al Gore, gaining access to more U.S. viewers.

“We are proud and pleased that Al Jazeera, the award- winning international news organization, has bought Current TV,” Gore, Current TV’s chairman, and Joel Hyatt, a co-founder and chief executive officer, said today in a statement.

The move lets Al Jazeera expand its U.S. footprint beyond the nine pay-television providers that carry its programming. Current TV, a news and opinion channel founded in 2005, reaches almost 60 million U.S. homes. Al Jazeera’s English network was started in 2006 and broadcasts to 250 million households worldwide in 130 countries, according to its website.

“Current Media was built based on a few key goals: To give voice to those who are not typically heard; to speak truth to power; to provide independent and diverse points of view; and to tell the stories that no one else is telling,” Gore and Hyatt said in the statement. “Al Jazeera, like Current, believes that facts and truth lead to a better understanding of the world around us.”

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$CAR to Buy $ZIP for $491 m

“PARSIPPANY, N.J. (AP) — Avis is buying Zipcar for $491.2 million, expanding its offerings from traditional car rentals to car sharing services.

Car sharing has become a popular alternative to traditional rentals in metropolitan areas and on college campuses, allowing members to quickly procure a vehicle for quick trips. Zipcar, which was founded in 2000, has more than 760,000 members. It went public in 2011.

“By combining with Zipcar, we will significantly increase our growth potential, both in the United States and internationally, and will position our company to better serve a greater variety of consumer and commercial transportation needs,” said Avis Chairman and CEO Ronald Nelson.

Bringing the Avis fleet into play will also help Zipcar meet high demand on weekends, Avis said, when most people make a run to the grocery store or run other errands.

Avis Budget Group Inc. will pay $12.25 per share, which is a 49 percent premium to Zipcar’s Friday closing price. The companies put the total value of the deal at approximately $500 million….”

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$MCP Hands Investors a 61% Loss in 2012, Now Seen as a Takeover Target Based on Evaluation


Molycorp Inc. (MCP)’s plunge below the value of its net assets is turning the owner of a rare-earth supply that’s unmatched in the Western hemisphere into a takeover target.

The owner of the biggest U.S. deposit of metals that go into everything from smartphones to solar panels and hybrid cars handed investors losses of 61 percent in 2012 amid a slump in rare-earth prices, cost overruns at its California mine, a regulatory probe and the departure of its chief executive officer. Even after the shares rebounded from a record low in November, Molycorp is trading at a 19 percent discount to its book value, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Molycorp’s low valuation and the chance to lock in rare- earth resources could spur manufacturers from Nissan Motor Co. (7201) to Siemens AG (SIE) to make a bid, according to Byron Capital Markets Ltd. After expanding its refining and processing operations with last year’s purchase of Neo Material Technologies Inc., the $1.3 billion company may even appeal to private-equity firms, Robert W. Baird & Co. said. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. projects that Molycorp could fetch $15 a share in a takeover, a 59 percent premium to its Dec. 31 close.

“At this point, Molycorp is definitely in play,” Luisa Moreno, an analyst at Euro Pacific Capital Inc. in Toronto, said in a telephone interview. “It would be a very good target for companies that are interested in being in this space if they recognize the rare-earth space is important and they have the cash to take Molycorp and make it a real producing company.”

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Posco Will Buy $1.1 Billion Stake in ArcelorMittal Unit

“A group led by China Steel Corp. and Posco (005490) agreed to pay $1.1 billion for 15 percent of ArcelorMittal Mines Canada Inc. to secure supplies of iron ore from two mines.

China Steel (2002) will take 3.68 percent for $270 million, Steve Lee, executive vice president atTaiwan’s biggest steelmaker, said today by phone. Posco didn’t say how much it will pay.

The deal gives the group access to mines producing about 40 percent of Canada’s iron ore, according to ArcelorMittal’s website, as the cost of the raw material rises faster than steel prices. ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, is studying selling about 30 percent of the unit to try to reduce its debt, a person familiar with the matter said on Oct. 20.

“If you look at the steel companies and their performance to date, it’s very difficult to improve bottom line earnings if you do not have a low enough iron ore input cost,” said Vanessa Lau, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in Hong Kong.

Posco and China Steel will agree long-term iron ore off- take agreements proportionate to their interests in the venture, Kaohsiung, Taiwan-based China Steel said today in a statement on its website. Other members of the group are “financial investors,” the company said without elaborating.

Kim Ji Young, a spokeswoman for Posco, the largest South Korean steelmaker, didn’t say how much the company will invest….”

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The Carlyle Group With Other Parties Buys $DUF for $665 Million

“Dec. 31 (Bloomberg) — Carlyle Group LP and investors including Swiss bank Pictet & Cie agreed to buy investment- banking firm Duff & Phelps Corp. (DUF) for $665.5 million.

The buyers, also including Stone Point Capital LLC and Geneva-based Edmond de Rothschild Group, will pay $15.55 a share, 19 percent more than Duff & Phelps’s closing price on Dec. 28. The transaction is expected to be completed in the first half, the companies said in a statement yesterday…”

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Q4 of 2012 Saw the Largest Amount of M&A Deals in Four Years

“Global mergers and acquisitions rose to the highest level in four years this quarter, as a surge in U.S. deals provided ground for optimism and salvaged what had been the worst year for takeovers since the financial crisis.

Companies worldwide have announced $691.9 billion in purchases in the final three months of the year, the most since the third quarter of 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. While transactions for all of 2012 shrank about 10 percent to $2.19 trillion, the same level as 2010, about $86 billion of telecommunications deals, including Softbank Corp.’s planned purchase of a stake in Sprint Nextel Corp., gave the end of the year a boost.

Chief executive officers sitting on more than $3.5 trillion in cash held off on deals for most of 2012 as Europe slid into recession, developing economies such as China cooled and $600 billion in possible spending cuts and tax increases threatened U.S. growth. The pickup in takeovers may extend into next year as American and European lawmakers take more decisive steps to fortify the global economic recovery, said Gene Sykes, global head of M&A at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

“Wait and see has been the dominant attitude of corporations’ approach to acquisitions because of the macroeconomic uncertainty due to the U.S. fiscal cliff and the euro debt crisis,” said Sykes, whose New York-based firm was the top adviser on M&A globally this year. “Once these crises find a solution there will likely be a rebound in activity driven by continuing consolidation in natural resources, industrials, technology and financial services…..”

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NJ Pension Fund Sues NYSE-Euronext on ICE Deal

“…..The sale was “designed to ensure the sale of NYSE-Euronext to ICE on terms preferential to ICE and designed to benefit NYSE Euronext’s insiders,” the pension fund said…..”

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GE to Buy Avio’s Aviation Business for $4.3 Billion


“MILAN (Reuters) – U.S. conglomerate General Electric has agreed to buy the aviation business of Italian aerospace company Avio for 3.3 billion euros ($4.3 billion), or 8.5 times Avio’s 2012 EBITDA, the companies said on Friday.

Avio will strengthen GE’s global supply chain capabilities as its engine production rates continue to rise to meet growing customer demand, GE said in a statement on Friday.

Avio, which supplies engine parts for the Eurofighter Typhoon and engine makers GE and Rolls Royce Holdings Plc , was acquired in 2006 by Cinven in a deal that valued the company at about 2.6 billion euros.

The deal will not include Avio’s aerospace unit.”

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NYSE Being Bought For $8.2B By Atlanta-based IntercontinentalExchange

“The New York Stock Exchange will be acquired by IntercontinentalExchange of Atlanta in a deal valued at about $8.2 billion, the two rivals confirmed Thursday morning.

In matching press releases, they say the sale “combines two leading exchange groups to create a premier global exchange operator diversified across markets including agricultural and energy commodities, credit derivatives, equities and equity derivatives, foreign exchange and interest rates.”

The Wall Street Journal notes that the deal “would end more than two centuries of independence for the New York Stock Exchange, one of Wall Street’s most enduring symbols of American capitalism.”

And, it adds: ”

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$ORCL to Buy $ELOQ for $817m

“REDWOOD SHORES, CA–(Marketwire – Dec 20, 2012) –  Oracle ( NASDAQ : ORCL ) today announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Eloqua, Inc. ( NASDAQ : ELOQ ), a leading provider of cloud-based marketing automation and revenue performance management software for $23.50 per share or approximately $871 million, net of Eloqua’s cash. Eloqua’s modern marketing cloud delivers best-in-class capabilities to ensure every component of marketing works harder and more efficiently to drive revenue.

The combination of Oracle and Eloqua is expected to create a comprehensive Customer Experience Cloud offering to help companies transform the way they market, sell, support and serve their customers. The combined offering is expected to enable organizations to provide a highly personalized and unified experience across channels, create brand loyalty through social and online interactions, grow revenue by driving more qualified leads to sales teams, and provide superior service at every touchpoint.

The Board of Directors of Eloqua has unanimously approved the transaction. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2013, subject to Eloqua stockholder approval, certain regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions….”

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Intercontinental Exchange Said in Talks to Buy NYSE

IntercontinentalExchange Inc. (ICE), the 12-year-old energy and commodity futures bourse, is in talks to buy NYSE Euronext, the owner of the world’s biggest stock market, according to a person with direct knowledge of the deal.

The cash-and-stock proposal for NYSE Euronext, which has a market capitalization of $5.8 billion, may be announced as soon as this week, said the person, who asked not to be named because the talks are private. Last year, the U.S. Justice Department blocked a joint hostile bid by ICE and Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. (NDAQ) for the owner of the New York Stock Exchange on concern the combination would dominate U.S. stock listings…”

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$FMCN Accepts an Offer to Go Private

“Focus Media Holding Ltd. (NASDAQ: FMCN) has announced that it has accepted an offer of $5.50 per ordinary share ($27.50 per American Depositary Share) from firms that will be controlled by the company’s chairman and CEO, Jason Nanchun Jiang, immediately after the transaction. The offer represents a premium of 17.6% to the closing price of the company’s ADSes on August 10th, the last trading day prior to the company’s announcement that it had received the proposal to go private…”

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SPX Closes in on $4.2 Billion Gardner Denver Deal

“NEW YORK (Reuters) – Industrial machinery maker SPX Corp is closing in on a roughly $4.2 billion deal to buy rival Gardner Denver Inc, as it makes progress in securing financing, a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

A deal could value Wayne, Pennsylvania-based Gardner Denver at about $85 per share, the source said. Gardner Denver’s shares closed at $73.68 on Tuesday. SPX has a market value of $3.23 billion, compared to $3.62 billion for Gardner Denver.

SPX’s financial advisor Credit Suisse Group AG has been joined by Bank of America Corp andJPMorgan Chase & Co in efforts to raise debt for the deal, the source said on condition of anonymity because the talks are confidential.

A deal could value Wayne, Pennsylvania-based Gardner Denver at about nine times estimated 2012 earnings before earnings, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), the source said, cautioning details had yet to be finalized.

A deal announcement could come as early as this week though no final agreement has yet been reached and negotiations could still fall apart, the source added….”

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Getco Gets Knight Capital With a Sweetened Bid


“(Reuters) – Knight Capital Group Inc , which suffered a near-fatal trading error in August, said it will be acquired by electronic trading firm Getco Holdings Co in a deal valued at $1.4 billion in cash and stock.

The deal seals a whirlwind five months for Knight, which executes about 10 percent of U.S. equity trading volume.

The company was rescued by a group of investors led by Jefferies Group Inc and including Chicago-based Getco who injected $400 million after errant software sent millions of unintentional orders in the opening 45 minutes of the U.S. trading day on August 1.

Knight and Getco will combine to form a new publicly traded company. Knight shareholders other than Getco will have the right to elect either $3.75 per share in cash or one share of common stock in the new business.

The offer represents a 13 percent premium to Knight’s closing stock price of $3.33 on Tuesday. It is also a 51 percent premium to Knight’s closing price on November 23 when reports surfaced that the company was looking for buyers…”

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Nielsen to Buy Arbitron for $1.26 Billion


Nielsen Holdings, known for its television viewership ratings, agreed to buy media and marketing research firm Arbitron in a deal worth $1.26 billion.

The $48 per share offer represents a 26 percent premium to Arbitron’s Monday close on the New York Stock Exchange.”

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Icahn’s American Railcar Offers to Buy Greenbrier for $543 Million

“(Reuters) – American Railcar Industries Inc , controlled by activist investor Carl Icahn, offered to buy rival railcar maker Greenbrier Cos Inc for about $543 million, reviving a nearly five-year old plan to combine the companies.

American Railcar’s offer of $20 per share represents a premium of 5.4 percent to Greenbrier’s closing price on Monday.

Greenbrier’s shares have risen 36 percent since Icahn reported a 9.99 percent stake in the company last month that made him its largest shareholder.

Icahn proposed a possible merger of Greenbrier and American Railcar in 2008, but later said a combination was not possible due to “unresolved issues”. (http://r.reuters.com/pud93t)

Greenbrier, which like American Railcar makes, repairs and refurbishes railroad freight cars, could not immediately be reached for comment outside of regular business hours.

Icahn Enterprises LP , which controls Icahn’s stake in American Railcar, said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday that the offer followed talks with Greenbrier. (http://link.reuters.com/ceg74t) “

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GE to Buy Avio for $4 Billion


General Electric Co. GE +0.67% is on the verge of agreeing to a deal to buy Italian aerospace group Avio SpA for as much as €3 billion ($4 billion), according to people familiar with the negotiations.

GE and European private-equity firm Cinven, which owns Avio, are aiming to announce a deal Thursday, the people said, though it still could be derailed at the last minute. The acquisition would be valued at between €2.5 billion and €3 billion, the people said.

The Italian company makes components for commercial and military jet engines as well as propulsion systems for satellite launch vehicles. One issue that still needs to be sorted out before a deal is signed involves Avio’s space business. According to a person familiar with the matter, GE isn’t interested in acquiring that operation as part of the deal, and the two sides are working to structure it accordingly.

Two-thirds of Avio’s aviation business is with GE, helping to explain why the U.S. industrial conglomerate is the front-runner to buy the company. Ahead of a big manufacturing ramp-up to meet record orders for new engines over the next five years, GE is seeking to strengthen its supply chain, in part by bringing the manufacturing of some parts in-house. Avio, which has worked with GE for decades, makes components for the U.S. company’s GE90 and GEnx engines, as well as for helicopters and other products….”

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Discovery to Pay $1.7 Billion for Nordic TV Stations

Discovery Communications Inc. DISCA -2.00% on Friday said it has agreed to buyProSiebenSat.1 Media AG’s PSM.XE +4.04% Nordic assets for $1.7 billion, beating out a rival bidder in a move that will enable the cable-network company to expand in Europe.

“SBS Nordic has a fully distributed portfolio of dual revenue stream networks with a terrific management team that will expand Discovery’s footprint across the Nordic region, which includes some of the most well-penetrated and stable TV markets in the world,” Discovery Chief Executive David Zaslav said.

Discovery was one of two final bidders—the other was Providence Capital Partners—for what is commonly referred to as SBS Broadcasting Group, home to the Scandinavian TV stations currently owned by Germany’s ProSiebenSat.1 Media.

The transaction is expected to close in early 2013.”

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$WMT & $KR Serve Up the First Bids for Twinkie Maker Hostess Brands Inc

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) and Kroger Co. (KR) are among the bidders for assets being sold by Hostess Brands Inc., the bankrupt maker of Wonder bread and Twinkies, said a person familiar with the matter.

There are about two dozen bidders, said the person, who asked not to be named because the process is confidential. Last month, financial adviser Joshua Scherer of Perella Weinberg Partners LP said the liquidation sale may generate about $1 billion.

A few of the bids are for all the assets, some are for just the cakes or breads businesses, and others are interested in individual Hostess plants or products, according to the person. Other first-round bidders include Grupo Bimbo SAB and Alpha Baking Co., the person said.”

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Petro China Plunks $1.2 Billion on the Table With $ECA for Alberta Shale Access

PetroChina Co. (857) agreed to pay Encana Corp. (ECA) C$1.18 billion ($1.2 billion) for a 49.9 percent stake in an Alberta shale formation as Asia’s biggest oil producer steps up acquisitions of overseas oil and gas assets.

PetroChina will also pay C$1 billion over four years to fund development of the project, Encana said in a statement yesterday. The accord follows Beijing-based PetroChina’s agreement this week to pay $1.63 billion for a stake in the Browse liquefied natural gas venture in Australia.

The two deals more than double PetroChina’s spending on overseas assets this year, and come less than a week afterCanada approved the $15.1 billion takeover of Nexen Inc. (NXY)by rival Cnooc Ltd. (883) The state-owned company wants half its oil and gas output to come from overseas by the end of the decade.

“It seems obvious that they were waiting for the government approval for Nexen so they could get clarification of the rules surrounding state-owned ownership,” Eric Nuttall, a portfolio manager who oversees C$100 million at Sprott Asset Management LP in Toronto, said in a phone interview.

The deal marks the first between Canada and a state-owned company since Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveiled new foreign investment rules on Dec. 7. The rules, announced after the approval of Cnooc’s purchase of Nexen, prohibit state- owned enterprises from taking control of Canadian oil-sands businesses unless there are “exceptional circumstances.” Joint ventures and minority stake acquisitions aren’t barred under the rules.”

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