Deals wrap: Southern Union offer raised

Pipeline operator Energy Transfer Equity  sweetened its deal for rival Southern Union 21 percent to about $5 billion, as it works to muscle out a competing offer from Williams Companies.

China’s Bright Food Group said it was not in discussions to buy any Australian wine assets, denying a media report that it was in internal talks on bidding for Australia’s Treasury Wine Estates.

Diagnostics firm Immucor said it agreed to be acquired by private equity group TPG Capital for $1.97 billion in an all-cash deal.

“After a blistering start to the year, deal volume slowed down in the second quarter as uncertainty again weighed on the markets,” reports the DealBook.

“New tech companies are going public at a rapid rate and some of the valuations are high relative to the underlying fundamentals.  So this is one giant bubble, right? No.  Not so much,” reports Tech Insidr.

Deals wrap: Zynga files for IPO

Zynga Inc filed paperwork for an initial public offering on Friday, the latest in a series of hot social media companies to seek capital in the U.S. public markets. The company, which is behind a series of popular games on Facebook, said it hoped to raise up to $1 billion. It did not specify the number of shares it plans to sell or give an expected price range.

A group including Apple, Research In Motion and Microsoft will pay $4.5 billion to snatch Nortel Networks’ patents from under the noses of Google and Intel, stealing a march on their rivals in a litigious market. Bankrupt Nortel had put up for sale 6,000 patents and patent applications in the largest public sale of its kind, a potential treasure trove for latecomers to the market such as Apple, Google and Intel.

Belgium’s KBC Group  is expecting around eight to 10 first-round offers for its private banking arm KBL, people familiar with the matter said, after attempts to sell the business for $1.9 billion failed in March. Bidders are expected to include corporate suitors and private equity firms from across the globe, the person said, and a shortlist for the next round will be drawn up in about a week.

Deals wrap: Streamlining HP

If private equity firms had their way, Hewlett-Packard would look less like a monolithic tanker and more like a small fleet of streamlined schooners, reports Nadia Damouni and Poornima Gupta.

Borse Dubai owns nearly 21 percent of LSE stock and the Qataris hold 15.1 percent, Thomson Reuters data shows, making the investors easily the largest shareholders in the London exchange and key decision-makers in its future.

BYD, the Chinese automaker backed by U.S. billionaire Warren Buffett surged more than 40 percent on its Shenzhen debut, as investors bet on a strong outlook for the company’s fledgling electric cars business.

Deals wrap: LSE may become a target

The London Stock Exchange, which plans a shareholder vote on its $3.5 billion merger with Canada’s TMX Group on Thursday, could become a target itself if the deal fails, analysts said.

BJ’s Wholesale Club agreed to be bought by private equity firms Leonard Green & Partners and CVC Capital Partners for $2.8 billion in cash, an offer price that shows there is a modest appetite for retail deals.

Dell expects acquisitions to remain a critical focus for the computer maker, which is expanding into areas such as storage and services, according to its top executives.

Deals wrap: Investing in Kraft

Billionaire investor Nelson Peltz bought 12.2 million shares in Kraft Foods during the first quarter, his investment firm reported this week.

“Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, J.P. Morgan and UBS were among bankers leading LinkedIn’s massively hyped — perhaps overhyped — IPO last month. And today — surprise!!! — all four banks told investors to buy, buy buy LinkedIn stock,” reports the NYT’s DealBook.

Bernard L. Madoff, the convicted fraudster, doesn’t think he deserved a 150-year sentence, the NYT reports.

Deals wrap: Dodgers strike out

The Los Angeles Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection, blaming Major League Baseball for refusing to approve a television deal with News Corp’s Fox Network to give the financially strapped baseball team a quick injection of cash.

The WSJ’s DealBook reports the best part of the filing is who the Dodgers owe money to. Manny Ramirez is owed $21 million.

London Stock Exchange boss Xavier Rolet faces a crucial test this week as TMX Group owners vote on their planned merger with the LSE – a deal on a knife-edge that is likely to define his tenure.

from Felix Salmon:

Why insider dealing is so attractive to hedge funds

Danny Black, in a series of comments on my post about Raj Rajaratnam and insider trading, points out how small Raj's insider profits were, compared to his net worth and the size of his fund:

One of the interesting things is just how [relatively] tiny the sums the insider trader makes. Rajaratnam was worth 1.8bn USD at one point. The upper end of what he made was 60mn. If I told you I could increase your wealth by 3% over a number of years but you might spend a decade or so in federal jail would you take up the offer?

This I think is doubly wrong. For one thing, $60 million is emphatically not an upper bound for the amount of money that Raj made on insider trading. Raj was not new to this game when his phones started being tapped, and it's incredibly naive to think that all of his insider dealing was conducted, in one way or another, over the phone. $60 million is the upper bound for trades which the authorities considered prosecutable; it's nowhere near being an upper bound even for what he made while his phone was tapped, let alone what he made over the course of his career.

from Breakingviews:

Energy mergers frenzy takes a pause — temporarily

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Bankers in the oil patch who got a glimpse of their families of late shouldn't get used to it. The frenetic pace of M&A in the energy sector, excluding utilities, slowed this year. As unraveling deals like Encana's C$5.4 billion tie-up with PetroChina suggest, uncertainty over commodity prices is the main culprit. But the global hunger for hydrocarbons means energy bankers won't be idle for long.

After a robust 2010, the value of announced oil and gas deals has fallen 14 percent to $123 billion year to date, Thomson Reuters data shows. The decline was particularly acute in the United States, where just $50 billion of deals were unveiled, down by 42 percent from a year ago. Rising activity in associated areas, like alternative energy and petrochemicals, softened the blow somewhat.

Deals wrap: M&A pace set to slow

M&A deals declined in the second quarter from the previous three months, casting gloom on hopes of a reviving world economy that will prompt executives to put their cash-rich balance sheets to work. Get full coverage on the state of M&A here.

China Everbright Bank has delayed meetings with investors to promote its planned $6 billion Hong Kong share listing, three sources with direct knowledge of the deal said, underscoring shaky sentiment in global markets and weak IPO performances in Asia.

At the Rebuilding Japan Summit, three veteran M&A advisers provide insight into corporate consolidation in Japan and what role this may play in the wake of the March 11 disaster.

from Felix Salmon:

Upgrading Skype and Silver Lake to Evil

Last week, Bloomberg's Joseph Galante published a story claiming that Skype investors in general, and Silver Lake in particular, were firing senior executives just before the company is sold to Microsoft, so that they don't get their full share of the proceeds from the sale. This seemed pretty evil to me, but it wasn't long before anonymous Skype investors started showing up on various blogs (SAI, TechCrunch, GigaOm) pouring cold water on the allegations, saying that the firings were all the doing of Skype's CEO, Tony Bates, and had nothing to do with Silver Lake at all.

The stories were very consistent with each other, and all of them seemed to be based on anonymous sources (except for GigaOm's, which was based on the word of an unnamed "company spokesman"). Because of this, it's impossible to tell whether there are multiple investors all credibly saying the same thing, or just one investor doing the rounds of the blogs and trying to push back against Galante's story.

But now Galante is back, with the story of Yee Lee, who left Skype after a significant chunk of his options had already vested -- and still didn't get any money from them.