M & A wrap: Swift takeover for Olympus unlikely

Olympus Corp should be the easiest of takeover targets: a profitable business with its share price in tatters, its management in utter disgrace and its balance sheet in need of fresh capital. But not in Japan. Reuters reporter Isabel Reynolds explains why.

Bonuses are sinking at Morgan Stanley, with cash payouts capped at $125,000, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Want to know how Wall Street firms determine bonuses to their employees? The New York Times talks to “the invisible hand behind bonuses on Wall Street”.

AIA Group, Asia’s No.3 insurer and about one-third owned by American International Group Inc, may bid for the $6 billion Asian insurance operations of ING, sources said, with the prospective sale expected to draw heavy interest from rivals.

Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG) and Sumitomo Corp are buying the aircraft-leasing business of Royal Bank of Scotland in a deal worth $7.3 billion, in the most aggressive acquisition by a Japanese lender since European banks began offloading non-core assets.

M & A wrap: Weak deal-making hurts JPMorgan earnings

JPMorgan Chase & Co’s fourth-quarter earnings fell 23 percent, in line with Wall Street expectations, as the European debt crisis depressed trading and corporate deal-making. Its figures show Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are in for a tough quarter as investment banking results suffer.

Private equity firm TPG Capital is willing to invest about $1 billion in Japan’s Olympus Corp in a joint deal with Sony Corp or another suitor circling the scandal-hit firm, a source told Reuters.

Meanwhile, TPG, US Airways Group and Delta Airlines are among several parties interested in potential bids for AMR Corp, the bankrupt parent of American Airlines.

M & A wrap: RBS’s fresh jobs cull

Royal Bank of Scotland abandoned ambitions to be a top global investment bank and said it would cut another 4,450 jobs as it bows to pressure from the UK government to shut down risky operations and prepare for tougher international regulations.

General Motors could shift more vehicle production to its European factories in a cost-cutting deal with its German union that could avert a damaging standoff and keep Opel out of bankruptcy, people familiar with the discussions told Reuters.

South Korea’s Samsung Electronics is open to forging an alliance with Japan’s troubled Olympus Corp, potentially joining other electronics firms in circling one of the world’s biggest names in medical equipment.

M & A wrap: Hostess files for bankruptcy

Twinkies and Wonder Bread maker Hostess Brands Inc filed for bankruptcy protection for the second time in less than three years, after failing to reach an agreement with workers on pension and health benefits. The company, which has about $860 million in debt, said it does not expect disruptions in the manufacturing and delivery of its products during the bankruptcy process.

Deutsche Boerse’s last-ditch lobbying efforts in support of its proposed takeover of NYSE Euronext look set to fail, leaving the deal heading for the rocks with European antitrust regulators expected to block the deal.

Alibaba Group has reduced the size of its debut loan to $3 billion, the funds which the Chinese e-commerce giant plans to use to buy back part of the 40 percent stake held by Yahoo.

As Mitt Romney has established himself as the front-runner for the Republican nomination, private equity becomes part of the debate, according to The New York Times.

M & A wrap: Olympus seen vulnerable to takeover

Japan’s disgraced Olympus Corp is suing its president and 18 other executives, past and present, for up to $47 million in compensation, as it struggles to recover from one of the nation’s worst accounting scandals.

“Essentially, everyone feels they are on death row. It does seem extremely strange to have the death row cell inside the company,” said Nicholas Smith, head of Japanese equity strategy at CLSA in Tokyo. “Having nobody at the helm makes it easier for a takeover.”

WebMD Health Corp ends talks with with potential acquirers and and warns that 2012 profit would be significantly lower.

M & A wrap: Wall Street prepares to take big pay cut

As banks prepare to report fourth-quarter results and make final bonus decisions for 2011, total compensation is likely to be the lowest since 2008, when the financial crisis destroyed some firms and left many survivors on government life support, the WSJ reports.

The Deal Journal takes a look at earnings estimates for banks — How long can they go?

Energy executives expect dealmaking in the U.S. oil and gas sector to rise in 2012 or at least match last year’s brisk pace, a survey shows.

M & A wrap: Chinese buyers circling more European assets

Fresh signs of a mooted wave of Chinese money looking to buy European assets on the cheap emerged, with a major bank said to be in the running for parts of Britain’s RBS and an Italian yacht maker seen in the sights of Shangdong Heavy Industry.

Federal authorities investigating the collapse of MF Global have expanded their inquiry to include the actions of the CME Group, the operator of the main exchange where the commodities brokerage firm conducted business, the DealBook reports, citing people briefed on the matter.

The Daily Beast says Yahoo is now on a deathwatch. “Less than 16 years ago, Yahoo was an Internet sensation that vanquished rivals like Lycos and Excite. Now, even with a new CEO and a vast audience, it is on the verge of eclipse—as is Kodak, another firm once on the cutting edge,” author Zachary Karabell writes.

M & A wrap: JAL eyes sharp turnaround

Japan Airlines plans to raise more than $6.5 billion ahead of re-listing its shares as early as September, a source with knowledge of the matter said, marking a sharp turnaround for the carrier following its bankruptcy in 2010. The public offering is expected to rank as Japan’s largest since Dai-Ichi Life Insurance raised 1 trillion yen in 2010, and will likely be carried out against a backdrop of tough industry competition and sluggish economic growth.

Eastman Kodak is preparing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing in the coming weeks in case it is unable to sell its digital patents to raise capital, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Blackstone Group will conclude fundraising for its latest buyout fund in January, raising just over $16 billion in a 4-year process challenged by the global financial crisis.

M & A wrap: Meet Yahoo’s new CEO

Yahoo Inc appointed Scott Thompson as its chief executive, replacing interim CEO Tim Morse who will resume his role as chief financial officer.

Who is Scott Thompson? The Wall Street Journal has a brief introduction of the former PayPal boss.

2011 may go down as the dark ages for hedge funds, the DealBook writes.

MF Global unloaded hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of securities to Goldman Sachs in the days leading up to its collapse, according to two former MF Global employees with direct knowledge of the transactions.

M&A wrap: Whole Foods the next Starbucks?

Whole Foods is about to become the next Starbucks, writes Leigh Drogen. It is about to move from being an organic grocery store to a cultural icon.

Total, France’s largest oil company, bought a $2.32 billion stake in Ohio’s Utica shale region from Chesapeake Energy and EnerVest, Bloomberg reports.

Meet Ted Weschler, a Warren Buffett disciple who has become one of a few candidates to replace the Oracle of Omaha as chief investment officer at Berkshire Hathaway, Deal Journal reports.