Reality Bites

July 31, 2008

An unidentified protesting shareholder faces Deutsche Bank CEO Ackermann during the annual shareholders meeting in FrankfurtDeutsche Bank‘s latest writedown comes with a reality check – the global credit crisis it had largely fought off is still snarling away. The top German bank’s $3.6 billion in fresh writedowns come with a reversal of optimism from CEO Josef Ackermann. “We remain cautious for the remainder of 2008,” he said as his bank became one of the world’s top crisis casualties. As late as November, Ackermann had been suggesting no further writedowns would be necessary, and had stood by a 2008 pretax profit goal of 8.4 billion euros. Now, with no indication that the books are completely cleaned of toxic paper, further write-offs seem a lot less unlikely and that full-year profit goal is going quietly by the wayside.

Japan’s TDK Corp said it plans to buy German electronic parts manufacturer Epcos for $1.9 billion in cash, as it pursues growth overseas and seeks to expand sales of industrial-use components. TDK said in a statement it would launch a friendly tender offer for all shares of Frankfurt-listed Epcos, offering 17.85 euros ($27.81) per share, a 29 percent premium to the closing price on Wednesday and valuing the deal at 1.2 billion euros. TDK said the offer would begin at the end of August. The acquisition is expected to boost TDK’s global market share of capacitors and inductors just as price falls hit earnings at rivals such as Murata Manufacturing and Kyocera, analysts said.

Global lender HSBC is likely to stand firm on its $6.3 billion bid to buy Korea Exchange Bank from U.S. private equity firm Lone Star as a formal deadline looms, cheered by a more accommodating South Korean government. The long-running deal, mired in outstanding legal issues, is seen as a test of whether South Korea is genuine in its pledge to open its financial sector wider to international investors. A successful deal would be the biggest cross-border move in South Korea’s banking sector and catapult HSBC into the ranks of the country’s top local banks.

Other deals of the day:

* Swedish media company Modern Times Group said it had signed a deal to buy Nova TV Bulgaria for 620 million euros ($966 million) in cash, expanding its reach in eastern Europe.

* Serbia is to go ahead with the sale of up to 51 percent of JAT Airways valuing the flag-carrier at about 100 million euros ($156.2 million), said the country’s privatization agency.

* Finland’s Atria has agreed to buy loss-making pigs-to-pizza group Campomos in Russia from Spanish Campofrio Alimentacion for 75 million euros ($116.9 million), it said.

* Japanese drug maker Daiichi Sankyo is yet to receive Indian regulatory approval for an open offer for Ranbaxy Laboratories, and so will not launch it on Aug. 8 as previously planned.

* Indian plastic products maker Sintex Industries said its unit has acquired 90 percent in German auto component maker Geiger technik GMbH, at an enterprise value of 35.6 million euros.

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