Yahoo Dead-line

April 7, 2008

Microsoft‘s so-far cordial $31 per share bid for Yahoo may not be dead yet, but there are some worrying signs that the current offer may be pulled off life support. On Saturday, Microsoft said Yahoo had 3 weeks to accept its terms or it would come back with a lower bid directly to shareholders. Today Yahoo issued a statement implying it was not about to settle for less, confirming a Reuters report over the weekend. The Sunday New York Times covered Microsoft’s deadline in the literal sense: the ultimatum ended up on the obituary page in some editions.

Washington Mutual‘s stock jumped 10 percent in pre-market trade after the Wall Street Journal reported that private equity firm TPG and other investors are close to investing $5 billion in the battered savings and loan. The U.S. government was not directly involved in shaping the deal, but regulators were likely made aware of WaMu’s plans, the Journal said, citing sources familiar with the matter. The deal comes after JPMorgan made a preliminary offer for Wamu, after studying its financial state since March, the Journal said, adding that talks between JPMorgan and Wamu stopped last week.

Nestle has bulked up its takeover coffers after agreeing to sell its stake in U.S. eyecare firm Alcon for up to $39 billion. Nestle said it was now open to making big acquisitions – above its previous, self-imposed ceiling of around $2 billion annually — in nutrition and health foods. French cosmetics giant L’Oreal was at the top of Nestle’s possible takeover list, with baby food firms like Mead Johnson also likely in the running, market participants said.

Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit has hived off another chunk of the bulging bank, agreeing to sell its Diners Club International operations to Discover Financial Services for $165 million. The network generates more than $30 billion of annual card volume outside North America.

Deals of the day:
* Private equity firm Industri Kapital said it had signed a deal to buy German component maker Flabeg from EquiVest/CBR for an undisclosed sum.
* ICAP agrees to acquire voice and electronic interdealer broker Link for an initial consideration of 135 million pounds.
* Angle confirmed that it received an approach which may or may not lead to an offer being made for the company The indicative proposal letter envisages a price of 60.0 pence for each Angle share.
* Suez Environnement, the water and waste arm of France’s Suez, said it and New World Services would buy a 15 percent stake in China’s Chongqing Water Group for around 140 million euros ($219.9 million).
* Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs and Chinese private equity firm Whitesun Equity Partners have agreed to invest a combined $30 million in Chinese coffee shop chain operator C.straits Cafe to help it expand.
* Mid-sized Chinese lender Bank of Beijing said it agreed to pay 127.5 million yuan ($18.2 million) for a 19.99 percent stake in smaller Langfang City Commercial Bank.
* Hibernian Group, the Irish arm of Britain’s biggest insurer Aviva, said it planned to enter Ireland’s health insurance market by buying 70 percent of Vivas Group.
* The Netherlands’ biggest insurer Eureko, partly owned by unlisted Rabobank, has made a takeover approach for Ireland’s FBD Holdings, a Eureko representative said.
* French national railways SNCF announced plans to bring the country’s biggest freight firm, Geodis, back under state control in an effort a create a major European transport and logistics company.
* Oil and gas firm Sterling Energy plans to sell its U.S. business to focus on top exploration prospects in Africa and northern Iraq and possible takeovers, the firm said.
* Landry’s Restaurants CEO Tilman Fertitta cut his offer to buy the company by about 11 percent to $21 a share as rising credit woes squeeze financing options for a possible $1.3 billion deal.
* Japanese office equipment maker Konica Minolta Holdings said it would develop and market office-use printers and production print systems with Dutch firm Oce NV.

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