DealZone

Deals wrap: ING Direct USA up for sale

CIT Group CEO John Thain is shown in New York in this November 17, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Brendan McDermidDutch financial group ING has kickstarted an auction to find a buyer for its U.S. online banking operation ING Direct as part of an effort to raise funds to pay back state aid it received during the financial crisis in 2008.

A report in the New York Post said the sale could raise as much as $10 billion and that several institutions had expressed an interest in buying the unit, including U.S. consumer lender CIT Group, which is now run by former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain (right).

Prosecutors present opening arguments in their insider trading case against Galleon Group founder Raj Rajaratnam, who they say built an elaborate network of stock tippers who helped him gain $45 million in illicit profits between 2003 and 2009.  NYT’s DealBook connects the dots in the complex Galleon network with a helpful visual graphic.

HCA, the biggest U.S. for-profit hospital chain, plans to go public on Wednesday in a deal that could renew investor interest in hospital operators. Analysts expect strong demand even though its private equity owners saddled it with a massive amount of debt.

While a public stock market listing is an attractive option for Switzerland’s Glencore, it is only one of the many avenues open to the world’s largest commodity trader, explains Reuters correspondent Julie Crust.

Deals wrap: Icahn turns inward

Investor Carl Icahn speaks at the Wall Street Journal Deals & Deal Makers conference, held at the New York Stock Exchange, June 27, 2007.  REUTERS/Chip East Seems billionaire investor Carl Icahn has had enough of managing money for outsiders. The 75-year-old stock picker dropped a bit of surprising news on Tuesday when he said he plans on returning all of his clients’ money, making him the latest in a string of investors to do so.

Barnes & Noble’s bid to reinvent itself as a formidable competitor in the burgeoning e-books sector is off to a solid start. Its Nook is the second best-selling e-reader on the market behind Amazon’s Kindle, and the book chain’s chief says it has 25 percent of the e-books market.  So why can’t the bookseller find any buyers? Reuters correspondents Phil Wahba and Jessica Hall take a closer look in a new piece.

Jury selection in the trial against Galleon Group hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam kicks off the action today in a case at the heart of the biggest insider trading investigation in a generation.

Deals wrap: Just one word – plastics

A worker sorts plastic bottles at a recycling centre in Hefei, Anhui province November 10, 2010. REUTERS/StringerPlastics. They don’t glitter like gold does, but more top hedge fund managers are betting on the chemical commodities that go into making plastics and buying up shares in the companies that produce them.

The Smart Money 30, a group that includes some of the biggest stock-picking equity funds, also trimmed bets on tech giants Apple and Google while favoring General Motors and Citigroup, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters.

What’s the easiest way to boost your company’s reputation? Buy up a top global brand. At least that’s the advice being given to top Chinese companies by the country’s commerce minister, who is urging the country’s firms to seek out new foreign acquisitions in an effort to secure more name recognition abroad.

Deals wrap: Galleon trial to be a “battle royal”

Raj Rajaratnam, the principal in the $21 million Galleon Group hedge-fund insider trading case, leaves Manhattan Federal Court for a bail hearing on conspiracy and securities fraud charges in New York, January 12, 2010.  REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton The insider trading case against Galleon Group hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam finally goes to trial next week. Rajaratnam faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy and securities fraud but plans to fight the charges and clear his name in court.

“All signs are pointing to a battle royal,” one securities attorney said of the upcoming trial in an interview with Reuters correspondent Grant McCool. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein has agreed to testify for the U.S. government at the trial. Here’s a rundown of some of the other main players involved in the case.

Should Americans be alarmed that Germany’s Deutsche Boerse is taking over Big Board parent NYSE Euronext? Not really seems to be the consensus with lawmakers and regulators who took part in the Reuters Future Face of Finance Summit this week.

Deals wrap: A status update from Twitter

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone attends the "World Economy and Future Forum" hosted by broadcaster MBN in Seoul March 3, 2011. Stone denied a report that Twitter was in talks to sell a $450 million stake of the company to a JP Morgan fund, reiterating that it was committed to remaining independent.   REUTERS/Lee Jae-WonCross Twitter off your IPO watch-list, at least for now. Co-founder Biz Stone told Reuters in an exclusive interview that the social networking service has no plans to go public or raise funds any time in the immediate future, saying his company is making enough money on its own at the moment.

Stone also flat-out rejected a Financial Times report earlier this week that said a J.P. Morgan technology fund was in talks to take a 10-percent stake in the social networking message service. “(The report is) made up,” he said.

News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch’s media empire is about to get a little bit bigger. The British government gave a green light to the company’s planned $14-billion buyout of satellite pay-TV company British Sky Broadcasting after Murdoch and co agreed to spin off a chunk of his Sky News channel into a separate company.

Deals wrap: Warren Buffett’s zoo

An elephant sprays earth in the Tsavo East National Park, 280 km (173 miles) east of Kenya's capital Nairobi February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Noor KhamisElephants. Zebras. Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett rolled out the animal metaphors in an interview on CNBC on Wednesday to explain that his company remains on the prowl for big acquisitions, which he calls “elephants”.

Buffett said they were hard to find, though, noting he’d lost a sizable one – a “zebra” – in recent days. “There aren’t many elephants out there, and not all of the elephants want to be in my zoo,” he said.

Yahoo is in talks to leave its Japanese joint venture, hoping to transfer its 35 percent stake to partner Softbank. If successful, the divesture could free up nearly $8 billion for the once-mighty Internet firm to compete with Google and Facebook.

Deals wrap: Consolidation wave to grow for exchanges

Professional surfer Kelly Slater (L) catches a 40 foot wave beside Grant Baker during the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational surf contest at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu in Haleiwa, Hawaii December 8, 2009. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry “The mergers of exchanges have only just begun as growing competition and even new regulation drive them closer together, irrespective of national borders,” write correspondents Luke Jeffs and Rachelle Younglai from the Reuters Future Face of Finance Summit.

As talk of future exchange deals swells, the CEO of the Singapore Exchange said he’s not planning any more concessions to Australian officials to win approval for his exchange’s $7.7 billion bid late last year for that country’s bourse operator ASX.

J. Crew will once again be a private company after shareholders approved a $2.86 billion deal for the retailer to be acquired by TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners.

Deals wrap: Blackstone expands property empire

CENTRO/SHARESBlackstone has struck a deal to buy nearly 600 U.S. shopping malls and other properties from Australia’s Centro Property Group for about $9.4 billion, a person with direct knowledge of the transaction told Reuters on Monday.

Large financial institutions may need to make significant and potentially costly structural modifications to comply with new rules, bank regulator Sheila Bair told the Reuters Future Face of Finance Summit on Monday.

A new J.P. Morgan investment fund that targets privately held Internet and digital media firms is in talks to acquire a hefty stake in social networking and micro-blogging service Twitter, people familiar with the matter told the Financial Times. According to the report, the fund hopes to acquire 10 percent of the Internet messaging service for $450 million, which would value the company at about $4.5 billion.

from Ben Berkowitz:

Treasury’s AIG Profits, Live

The U.S. Treasury owns 92.2 percent of insurance company AIG, a stake it plans to start selling this spring. But how much is it actually worth?

Use this spreadsheet to find out in real time, based on the number of shares Treasury holds, the break-even point and AIG's current share price:

Deals wrap: The biggest company you never heard of

A worker of the Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining Corp. takes an anode sample at the copper smelting plant in central Philippines.  REUTERS/Cheryl RaveloGlencore is Switzerland’s top-grossing company and has been compared with investment banking giant Goldman Sachs. It’s the biggest company you never heard of.

Global listings activity has been the highest on record so far this year, with firms raising a total of $24 billion from IPOs, according to Thomson Reuters data.

A Renaissance Capital report looks at what is driving this year’s surge in U.S. IPO activity.