Oiling the Barclays machine
When you need some fast cash, you can always count on oil money. Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is reportedly considering backing a share issue by Barclays. You’ll recall that earlier this week Britain’s No. 3 bank said it would sell billions of pounds worth of shares to bolster its stretched balance sheet. The Financial Times quotes a person close to the Qatar Investment Authority as saying “We’re looking at it.” The QIA manages about $60 billion in assets and earlier this year bought under 2 percent of Credit Suisse. Qatar, which is the richest Arab country on a per capita basis thanks partly to high oil prices, is looking to spend between $10 billion and $15 billion over the next two years on bank stakes, Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani told Reuters in February.
Of course, it’s not just the oil-rich out there poking around those struggling banks. Activist shareholder Olivant said on Wednesday it had raised its stake in Swiss bank UBS, which has been hit by massive losses on risky investments, to 2.5 percent. Olivant, headed by former UBS Chief Executive Luqman Arnold, said by taking a stake worth about $1.8 billion it was “demonstrating its belief in the potential restoration of shareholder value achievable through decisive action on the part of the UBS board”. Interpretation: We want change. How about splitting up the bank?
If banks aren’t your thing, there’s always Hollywood. Movie studio DreamWorks SKG is close to a deal with India’s Reliance ADA Group to form a new movie venture, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the talks. The Journal said a deal with Reliance would give movie director Steven Spielberg the cash to finance his DreamWorks team’s departure from Viacom Inc’s Paramount Pictures later this year.
And one from the Ho-Hum, Glad-its-Done Department: Office goods supplier Staples has won approval from the European Commission for its 1.7 billion euro ($2.64 billion) takeover bid for Dutch peer Corporate Express. Staples raised its all-cash offer to 9.25 euros per share from 9.15 euros last week, winning the backing of Corporate Express which also ditched its own deal to buy French privately owned competitor Lyreco.
More Deals of the Day:
** French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis plans to make a 40.04 billion Czech crown ($2.57 billion) offer for Czech drugmaker Zentiva, trumping a bid from financial group PPF.
** German sports-car maker Porsche withdrew and then refiled its request to Brussels to acquire control of Volkswagen, the European Commission said
** Korea Express Co Ltd, the country’s top logistics company, said it had signed a deal to hand its 40 percent stake in a local joint venture to United Parcel Service Inc.
** Sinotrans, the Chinese conglomerate partnered with DHL, is considering merging with the country’s top river-shipping operator to create a national logistics giant, sending shares in its main listed arm up 6 percent on Wednesday.
** India’s Tata Communications Ltd said a unit had signed an equity joint venture with shareholders of China Enterprise Communications Ltd (CEC) to acquire a 50 percent stake in the Chinese firm for an undisclosed amount.
** A U.S. judge authorized bankrupt Canadian printer Quebecor World Inc to sell its European operations to Vadeho, an affiliate of Netherlands-based investment group Hombergh Holdings BV.
** Grey Wolf Inc said it has rejected a higher takeover offer from Precision Drilling Trust, saying the 30 cent increase to $9.30 a share wasn’t enough to convince it to abandon a planned merger.
** Microchip design software maker Cadence Design Systems Inc offered to buy smaller rival Mentor Graphics Corp for about $1.5 billion, but Mentor rejected the bid as too low.
** Grupo Hispania, which owns 3.5 percent of Spain’s Banco Popular, said it was negotiating with a Mexican group to sell its stake in the bank.
** German utility E.ON has gained full control of Endesa Italia after Italian utility A2A said it had agreed a deal for the demerger of the power generator where it would get assets for its 20 percent stake.
** Provident Energy Trust said it has sold its stake in some oil-producing partnerships in the United States to BreitBurn Energy Partners LP for $345 million, and that it will use the cash to cut debt.
** French bank Societe Generale said it had sold its entire 7.8 percent stake in Oman-based Bank Muscat to The Royal Court Affairs of Oman.
** Thailand’s Tisco Bank said it had withdrawn from negotiations to buy a 42 percent stake in rival BankThai after a newspaper report triggered a trading suspension in both stocks.
** Auto parts supplier Johnson Controls Inc moved a step closer to buying the interiors business of bankrupt Plastech Engineered Products Inc for $177 million after no competing bids emerged at an auction on Monday, lawyers said.
** Russian services conglomerate Sistema said it had increased its stake in India’s Shyam Telelink Limited to 73.71 percent from 72 percent.
** The American Stock Exchange said its members overwhelmingly approved the acquisition of the exchange by NYSE Euronext Inc, paving the way for the deal to close as early as August.
** L’Oreal, the world’s biggest beauty group, won European Commission clearance to buy the YSL Beaute cosmetics firm from French retailer PPR for an enterprise value of 1.15 billion euros ($1.78 billion).
** ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, said it would consider buying Turkish steelmaker Erdemir, lifting its shares.
** Power and telecom towers maker Sujana Towers Ltd said it had bought 51 percent in Mauritius-based Telesuprecon Ltd, which executes telecom infrastructure projects in east and central Africa.
** Microsoft Corp said it had purchased privately held digital television advertising technology company Navic Networks. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
** Analysts expect CME Group Inc to do what it takes to nail down its planned acquisition of NYMEX Holdings Inc, even if that means bowing to pressure to sweeten the purchase price.
** A merger between Germany’s Commerzbank and Dresdner Bank may be attractive even if the latter’s troubled investment bank were thrown into the bargain, analysts said.
** SAP, the world’s leading maker of business software, has agreed to buy Visiprise, a small U.S. company that makes software to help manufacturers control operations, manage compliance and improve quality.