Corporate Express Stapled

June 11, 2008

corp-express.jpgWhen at first you don’t succeed, raise, raise again. Another upped bid from Staples convinced Corporate Express management to back the unsolicited offer. The resweetened bid for the Dutch firm was 1.7 billion euros ($2.65 billion), or 9.25 euros per share, from the 9.15 euros it offered last week and a fair bit above the 7.25 euros it offered in February. Corporate Express’s defensive play for French competitor Lyreco has been scrapped (for a tidy 30 million euro breakup fee).

Oil major BP accused its Russian partners of staging a boardroom coup at their 50-50 Russian oil joint venture TNK-BP, as the two sides prepared to re-enter negotiations on the future of the company. The Wall Street Journal cites people close to the discussions as saying the talks have already broken down. BP and its Russian partners, a group of four billionaires united in the Alfa-Access-Renova consortium, have been locked in a long-running conflict over strategy and ownership at the company. Mounting pressure over recent months on the troubled oil firm, including tax probes, raids on offices and the arrest of an employee, have led analysts to speculate that a state-controlled energy giant will soon muscle in on TNK-BP.

Sovereign funds may not be thrilled with their investments in beleagured US banks, but they don’t seem too put off by the battered property market. The New York Post reports that the Abu Dhabi Investment Council is negotiating to buy a 75 percent stake in New York City’s landmark Chrysler Building for $800 million. The paper cited sources as saying the assets would be purchased from TMW, the German arm of an Atlanta-based investment fund. This follows last month’s deal in which a group led by Boston Properties is buying the GM Building and three others from Macklowe Properties for $3.45 billion. The Post said investors in that deal included the wealth funds of Kuwait and Qatar.

Other deals of the day:

* Japanese drug maker Daiichi Sankyo said it aims to buy a stake of more than 50.1 percent in India’s biggest generic drug maker Ranbaxy in a deal worth 147.4-198 billion rupees ($3.4-4.6 billion).

* SK Telecom, South Korea’s top mobile operator, denied market talk that it was seeking to buy local set-top box maker Humax.

* Norway’s government has bought 700,000 more shares in energy group StatoilHydro as part of its long-term plan to boost its stake to 67 percent from 62.5 percent, the company’s share registry showed.

* Software services firm 3i Infotech said it has acquired 51 percent in Mumbai-based software solutions firm Fineng Solutions, with an option to buy the balance later.

* Chinese state-owned financial conglomerate CITIC Group offered to buy its small Hong Kong-listed arm CITIC International Financial Holdings for $1.4 billion as part of an earlier-announced deal that would boost Spanish bank BBVA’s toehold in fast-growing Asia.

* Slovenia’s largest household appliances producer Gorenje said it had made its largest ever takeover, but gave no details as it said trading in its shares was being suspended.

* LS Cable signed an agreement to buy Nasdaq-listed wire and cable maker Superior Essex for $900 million or $45 per share in cash, the two companies said.

* Singapore printer SNP Corp shot up 10 percent after it received a takeover offer from Japan’s Toppan Printing, valuing the firm at S$208 million ($151.4 million).

* HSBC, Europe’s biggest bank, might consider pulling out of a $6.3 billion deal to take over South Korea’s No. 6 bank, Korea Exchange Bank, its Asia chief said.

* New Zealand casino operator Sky City Entertainment Group said it would raise its stake in the casino in the South Island city of Christchurch after the sale of its stake in a hotel in the city.

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