An open and shut case?

April 29, 2008

hammer.jpgClear Channel Communications says a Texas court has dismissed a request by a group of banks to delay a trial over the funding of the $20 billion buyout of the radio station operator. The banks asked to delay the June 2 trial until January, 2009, saying they needed more time to prepare, according to court documents obtained by Reuters. “Hopefully the banks are running out of delay tactics, and they will soon face a Texas jury who will make them take responsibility for their actions,” Clear Channel said in a statement. What could this defense be that requires another seven months to refine? Perhaps their lawyers are looking to twist the infamous Material Adverse Clause to protect lenders, not just borrowers.

Italian prime minister-elect Silvio Berlusconi threatened to re-nationalize Alitalia if the European Commission continued to “whine” about a government loan to keep the ailing airline afloat. With an overwhelming victory in national and city elections in his pocket, Berlusconi has attacked the European Commission for doubting whether the $467 million loan met European rules barring further state aid to the airline. The tycoon said a bid by a group of Italian businessmen remained the first choice for salvaging the carrier, but that EU trouble could prompt the state or its railways to buy the 50.1 percent of Alitalia that it does not already own.

Midwest Corp recommended a revised A$1.36 billion ($1.27 billion) offer from China’s Sinosteel, ending resource-hungry China’s first hostile foray into Australia’s mining sector. The A$6.38 per share offer falls short of the A$7 price target set by Midwest’s chief executive Bryan Oliver, but is still a 13.9 percent boost to Sinosteel’s previous offer. Midwest was last quoted at A$6.10 before trading in its shares was halted early on Tuesday. Sinosteel already owns 19.9 percent of Midwest. Meanwhile, Chinese Iron and Steel Group plans to lift its stake in Australian prospector Apollo Minerals to 19.9 percent, Apollo said.

Other deals of the day:

* British market research firm Taylor Nelson Sofres is in talks with Germany’s GfK over a nil-premium merger which would create the world’s second-largest market information group by revenue.

* Taiwan contract notebook PC maker Wistron said it will buy Lite-On Technology‘s monitor business for T$9.2 billion ($300 million) in cash.

* Oilfield services group Seadrill has raised its sake in rig group Scorpion Offshore to 36.0 percent and said it would launch an offer for the rest of the stock within four weeks.

* The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development plans to invest up to $94 million into a Kazakh state-controlled private equity fund, the bank said.

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