What goes around…

June 4, 2008

lehman3.jpgLehman Brothers is looking for fresh capital in South Korea, the Wall Street Journal reports. If the investment bank does end up tapping South Korea, it will have taken slightly over a decade for the 1997 multibillion loan from the IMF, backed by Wall Street and the Federal Reserve, to come full circle. The Journal says Lehman is looking to state-run Korea Development Bank and Woori Financial Group as it searches for funds to ward off a Bear Stearnsian crisis of confidence. The IMF demanded strict economic reforms for its money. A South Korean lender, like the Chinese and Arab investors bailing out Citi and Merrill Lynch, might just want a juicier cut.

The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup — with a side of Smuckers jelly. The maker of Jif peanut butter and Crisco oil said it would buy Folgers from Procter & Gamble for stock valued at $2.95 billion plus the assumption of $350 million in debt. J.M. Smucker & Co also acquired Jif and Crisco from P&G.

Yahoo set its annual shareholder meeting for Aug. 1 in the heart of Silicon Valley, as it braced for a proxy showdown with billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn. Earlier, The Wall Street Journal reported that Icahn would seek to remove Jerry Yang as Yahoo chief executive, citing the company’s failure to reach a merger or partnership deal with Microsoft. Icahn had proposed an alternate slate of directors for Yahoo’s board, but until now had not directly targeted Yang. “It’s no longer a mystery to me why Microsoft’s offer isn’t around,” the Journal quoted Icahn as saying. “How can Yahoo keep saying they’re willing to negotiate and sell the company on the one hand, while at the same time they’re completely sabotaging the process without telling anyone?”

Novartis has bought privately held biotech company Protez Pharmaceuticals in a deal worth up to $400 million, giving it rights to an antibiotic which could be used to fight superbugs. Protez has a broad-spectrum antibiotic given by injection that is currently in mid-stage Phase II development against drug-resistant infections, and Novartis hopes to submit it for regulatory approval in 2012. The Swiss group will pay $100 million immediately for the business, with a potential for up to $300 million of additional payments depending on the future success of the new drug with the catchy code name: PZ-601.

Corporate Express will open its books to U.S. office supplies retailer Staples, which has made an unsolicited bid for the Dutch office goods wholesaler, Het Financieele Dagblad reports. On Tuesday, Staples raised its offer to 9.15 euros a share, or 1.7 billion euros ($2.65 billion), on the condition that Corporate Express shareholders reject the company’s plan to buy privately owned French peer Lyreco. The paper added that Corporate Express will probably give a neutral recommendation to its shareholders about the bid.

Other deals of the day:

* Australia’s Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory said it and National Foods, owned by Japan’s Kirin Holdings, would jointly pursue a bid for Australian dairy producer Dairy Farmers.

* Chinese metals trader Sinosteel said it has raised its stake in Midwest Corp to 28.37 percent from 19.89 percent as it seeks to take over the Australian iron ore prospector.

* AXA Asia Pacific, unit of French insurer AXA SA, said it would buy the financial planning business of Challenger Financial Group for A$100 million ($95 million) and in exchange for AXA’s annuity portfolio.

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