Game, Google

June 13, 2008

google.jpgWith Google looking like the big winner after doing an ad search deal with Yahoo, pretty much everyone else involved is looking like a loser. Microsoft will have to take its mammoth war chest and try to find another way to make a meaningful stab at the coveted online ad space — or concede the market altogether. Though Yahoo is waving enhanced revenue and cash flow figures around, the deal is seen as better for Google, which is the undisputed heavyweight champion in ad search and just gets a juicy space to show how mighty it is. “Google has made an enormous gain strategically. This move might well have shut Microsoft out of the online space altogether,” said Sanford Bernstein analyst Jeffrey Lindsay. Speculation is rising that the Yahoo/Google deal could provoke antitrust scrutiny, and Carl Icahn still has his troops massing to oust Jerry Yang and the Yahoo board. But if he had any clout to force Yahoo into a deal with Microsoft, it wasn’t on show yesterday. Did he lose cred, or does he plan to keep fighting? He may say soon, but probably not on his blog.

With signs that its wealthy clientele are growing nervous, UBS has wrapped up a 16 billion franc ($15.4 billion) rights issue. Flows into its wealth management business slowed to a trickle in the first three months of the year, and this is the Swiss bank’s second effort to resuscitate finances ravaged by the global markets crisis. Dieter Ewald, a fund manager at UBS shareholder Frankfurt Trust, said such concerns had prompted him recently to pare back his investment in the Swiss bank. “UBS is handicapped,” he said. “We are worried that wealth management will be hit. We want to see that the new management can bring it back on track, and then we would invest more again.”

Pfizer may bid for Ranbaxy Laboratories, countering a $4.6 billion offer by Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo for the Indian generic drug maker, the Business Standard newspaper said. Ranbaxy’s shares jumped nearly 5 percent on the report while Daiichi Sankyo’s shares dropped 2 percent. Daiichi Sankyo and Ranbaxy are seeking to become a pharmaceuticals powerhouse that sells both branded drugs and generics. The newspaper added Pfizer had held talks with the Ranbaxy founders for a possible acquisition a year earlier.

An infrastructure fund managed by Australia’s Babcock & Brown is to buy UK train leasing firm Angel Trains from Royal Bank of Scotland for 3.6 billion pounds ($7 billion) including debt. The deal came as shares in Babcock and Brown plunged for a second day on concerns about its debt and ability to raise funds but it will help Royal Bank of Scotland, Britain’s second-biggest bank, which is selling off non-core assets to further boost its balance sheet after raising 12 billion pounds ($23.5 billion) this week in the biggest ever rights issue.

Other deals of the day:

* Britain’s AEA Technology said it would buy U.S. company Project Performance Corp for $65 million and would raise 39.7 million pounds ($77.6 million) through a rights issue to help fund the deal.

* Struggling Finnish fine paper maker M-real Oyj cancelled a plan to divest its Reflex paper mill in Germany to Arjowiggins Group, citing to a condition set by the European Commission.

* India’s Jet Airways has decided to pull out of talks to buy a stake in low-cost carrier SpiceJet owing to differences over valuation, Business Standard newspaper said, citing sources from both airlines.

* A property investment arm of Morgan Stanley plans to sell at least two high-end serviced apartment projects in Shanghai, which are wholly owned by the Wall Street bank, for several billion yuan, people familiar with the situation said.

* South Korea’s National Pension Service, the world’s fifth-largest pension fund, will pump $173 million into a deal in which LS Cable has agreed to buy wire and cable maker Superior Essex.

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