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Buyout barons like the sound of a blank check

September 2, 2015

David Bonderman’s TPG and Alec Gores’ eponymous firm are the latest to jump on the shell-company bandwagon. A cutthroat M&A scene and the success enjoyed by the likes of Martin Franklin have amplified the siren call. Not all acquisition nous is necessarily the same, however.

Monsanto leaves Syngenta facing awkward questions

August 26, 2015

The world’s largest seed maker has given up pursuit of its Swiss rival. The $46 bln deal required aggressive assumptions and carried risks. Syngenta’s management now needs to prove its reluctance to talk was worth it.

Southern’s $12 bln deal could find true north

August 24, 2015

The hefty 38 pct premium it’s paying for AGL looks rich for the utility sector. Though Southern isn’t giving a synergy figure, hacking out over 6 percent of costs would help justify the price. Previous mergers like Duke’s acquisition of Progress at least suggest it’s achievable.

Valeant pops risky $1 bln libido pill

August 20, 2015

The acquisitive drug firm is buying Sprout, the maker of just-approved “female Viagra.” Valeant will have gotten a bargain if it can crank out billions in annual sales. Snag is, the drug isn’t very effective, it has bad side effects, and regulatory restrictions may crimp sales.

New bank M&A powerhouse leaves rivals for dead

August 19, 2015

Regional U.S. lender BB&T’s $1.8 bln swoop for National Penn is its fourth deal in a year. The acquisition makes financial sense and is more proof the Fed supports industry tie-ups. The longer other banks stay on the sidelines, the more it’ll look like they fear rejection.

John Malone takes home shopping over the top

August 17, 2015

Buying Zulily, a flash-sale site for moms, would increase online revenue at the cable mogul’s QVC broadcast arm from about 40 pct to half. The target’s growth is already slowing quickly, however. And at $2.4 bln, or 38 times EBITDA, the deal reveals the high cost of chasing Amazon.

Symantec’s Veritas sale tells truth about tech M&A

August 11, 2015

Offloading the data storage business for $8 bln to Carlyle and Singapore’s GIC ends a decade-long disaster of a deal. Like HP, eBay, Microsoft and others, Symantec discovered it’s often harder to buy than build. Trouble is, breakups and writedowns tend to perpetuate the problem.

Humpty Dumpty M&A sings song of excess

August 6, 2015

Bill Ackman has taken a stake in the $75 bln Mondelez, seemingly predicated on the possibility of putting it back together again with Kraft. Meantime there’s talk of successful tech spinoff VMware absorbing its parent EMC. It’s fantasy season for all the Street’s men.

Best chapter in Pearson breakup story yet to come

August 5, 2015

The media group can soon sell its 47 pct stake in publisher Penguin Random House to co-owner Bertelsmann. Including future synergies, the stake could fetch $2.7 billion, twice what Pearson got for the FT. Since the venture could get more valuable still, waiting looks better.

Delphi deal crudely hitches to connected-car hype

July 30, 2015

The auto supplier is paying $1.7 bln for a UK maker of “bundle management solutions.” HellermannTyton may be a solid company whose cable ties and such are integral components, but there’s a whiff of dot-com fever in the rhetoric. That’s not enough to justify the 45 pct premium.