DealZone

M&A wrap: Banks vie for Facebook IPO role

 

With the prized Facebook IPO on the horizon for 2012, the lead investment-banking role is still up for grabs and long-time rivals Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are considered front runners, the Wall Street Journal reports.

In this Deal Pipeline video, Paul Hastings corporate department partner Barry Brooks predicts that mergers and acquisitions in financial services will jump in 2012.

Banco Bradesco, Brazil’s second-biggest private sector bank, pulled out of talks to buy HSBC Holdings‘ consumer finance unit Losango on concern about potential charges related to labor disputes, a local newspaper reported on Friday.

The settlement between the Trust Company of the West and Jeffrey E. Gundlach caps a bitter and protracted dispute that turned the normally anodyne mutual fund world into a heated legal battleground, reports DealBook.

Swiss Petroplus struggles to keep its refineries across Europe running after aggressive acquisitions by former chairman Thomas O’Malley up to 2007 have given way to the current credit crunch, economic slowdown and financial crisis.

M & A wrap: SEC explores Groupon memo

Among the series of distractions ahead of Groupon’s IPO last month was the Mason Memo, WSJ’s Deal Journal reported late Wednesday. Newly disclosed documents shed light on how Groupon was forced to explain the memo to the SEC.

Alibaba Group has hired a Washington lobbying firm in a sign that the Chinese e-commerce company would be willing to make a bid for all of Yahoo in the event that talks to unwind their Asian partnership fail.

The value of global takeovers dropped to the lowest level in more than a year this quarter, Bloomberg.com reports. A recovery in 2012 looks to be muted because cash-rich companies are weighing Europe’s economic crisis before making big purchases.

M & A wrap: Plan B for ING

Dutch financial services group ING Group has scrapped plans for a separate trade sale of its Belgian insurance business, worth 500 to 750 million euros, a person familiar with the deal said on Wednesday.

Sears “has been a mismanaged asset,” Gregory Melich, an analyst at International Strategy & Investment, said in a Bloomberg Television interview yesterday. “A lot of traditional department stores have reinvigorated themselves through merchandising, through changing their locations; you think of Macy’s. You haven’t seen that from Sears.” Yesterday the largest U.S. department store chain reported that it would close as many as 120 locations after same-store sales fell 5.2 percent in the eight weeks ended Dec. 25.

Whirlpool investors–already burned by a sagging stock in 2011–aren’t spending time trying to figure out what the impact of Sears’ planned store closings will be. They’re just bailing out, reports the Wall Street Journal. As Whirlpool has seen weak demand of its own this year, investors are seemingly done for now in waiting for turnaround signs. Shares are off 7 percent today to $47.57, pushing Whirlpool’s stock price down more than 46 percent for 2011.

M&A wrap: Total merges solar units

U.S. solar panel maker SunPower, a unit of French oil major Total, said it had agreed to buy Total-owned Tenesol for $165.4 million in cash in an expected deal that will regroup the French group’s solar business under one umbrella. Total announced the $1.3 billion takeover of SunPower in June.

Concurrently with the closing of the acquisition, Total has agreed to purchase 18.6 million shares of SunPower common stock in a private placement at $8.80 per share, a 50 percent premium to SunPower’s Dec 22 closing price. After the sale of Tenesol, Total will own about 66 percent of SunPower shares.

Deutsche Boerse won U.S. antitrust approval to buy NYSE Euronext in a $9 billion deal to create the world’s No. 1 exchange operator, but the transaction still faces serious regulatory headwinds in Europe. In Europe, there have been weeks of negotiations with antitrust regulators, in which staff made clear their reservations about approving a combination of Deutsche Boerse’s Eurex and NYSE Euronext’s Liffe on concerns that the merged entity would have a monopoly over European listed derivatives trading. A formal decision by the European Commission is not expected until January or early February.

M&A wrap: EU crisis hits bank advisory fees

Europe’s debt woes dragged worldwide investment banking income down this year, data showed, with fees on the continent slumping to the lowest quarterly level ever recorded and company listings and acquisitions grinding to a near halt. In Europe, fees raised since October from bonds, flotations and mergers and acquisitions stand at the lowest quarterly level ever recorded by the data providers. A stronger start to the year in areas such as mergers and acquisitions fizzled out, leaving investment banks’ overall haul of fees at $72.6 billion — down 8 percent on 2010.

Yahoo is considering a plan to unload most of its prized Asian assets in a complex deal valued at roughly $17 billion, sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday, winning nods of approval from Wall Street and driving its shares higher. The offer – the latest among proposals put forth in recent months to resuscitate the once high-flying Internet company – is expected to be considered by Yahoo’s board on Thursday, sources said. The board was uninterested in entertaining offers for the entire company at this point, said one of the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Oshkosh Corp has sent a proxy card to shareholders recommending they ignore an effort by billionaire investor Carl Icahn to install his own board members as he pushes for a merger with one of the company’s key rivals. Icahn recently nominated six associates to be on the board of the Wisconsin maker of trucks, construction lifts and defense vehicles. In a letter to the company’s shareholders last week asking for support for his nominations, he also voiced strong support of a merger between Oshkosh and Navistar International Corp. Icahn owns nearly 10 percent stakes in both companies.

M&A wrap: Amazon, Nokia, Microsoft weighed RIM bids

Research In Motion has turned down takeover overtures from Amazon.com and other potential buyers because the BlackBerry maker prefers to fix its problems on its own, according to people with knowledge of the situation. Amazon hired an investment bank this summer to review a potential merger with RIM, but it did not make a formal offer, said one of the sources. It is not clear whether informal discussions between Amazon and RIM ever led to specific price talk.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft and Nokia have discussed the idea of a joint bid for RIM, but the status of those talks remains unclear.

HSBC, Europe’s biggest bank, is retreating from Japan’s private banking market, selling a business that serves the wealthy to Credit Suisse, which is raising its profile in the world’s second-largest market for millionaires.

M&A wrap: T-Mobile “crying out” for Sprint tie-up?

Deutsche Telekom may be forced into a tie-up of its sub-scale U.S. wireless unit with Sprint Nextel after a $39 billion deal with AT&T collapsed. While Deutsche Telekom is now walking away with a $6 billion breakup package, its chief executive Rene Obermann has lost a lot of time and will now have to invest in the U.S. market or find a new way to exit the country, an option analysts regard as unlikely. T-Mobile USA “is just crying out for a merger with Sprint. That’s the only long-term solution for Deutsche Telekom,” Will Draper, head of telecoms research at Espirito Santo, said.

Goldman Sachs claimed the spot as the top U.S. M&A adviser in 2011 as rivals JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley fell in the standings due to the collapse of AT&T’s $39 billion deal to buy Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile USA unit. JP Morgan, which had previously been the top U.S. M&A adviser for the year, advised AT&T along with Greenhill and Evercore. Morgan Stanley, which had been No. 2 in U.S. M&A based on the dollar value of transactions on which it had advised, was working for Deutsche Telekom along with Citigroup, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank.

Olympus Corp is preparing to issue about $1.28 billion (100 billion yen) in new shares to bolster its depleted finances, with Japanese high-tech stalwarts Sony and Fujifilm seen as possible buyers, the Nikkei business daily reported. The report comes after a warning from one of the camera and endoscope maker’s leading shareholders that the scandal-tainted board may try to retain control by issuing new shares to dilute the power of existing shareholders.

M & A wrap: Saudi prince buys Twitter stake

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, an investor in some of the world’s top companies, has bought a stake in Twitter for $300 million, gaining another foothold in the global media industry. Alwaleed, a nephew of Saudi Arabia’s king estimated by Forbes magazine in March to have a fortune of $19.6 billion, already owns a 7 percent stake in News Corp and plans to start a cable news channel. The Twitter stake, bought jointly by Alwaleed and his Kingdom Holding Co investment firm, resulted from “months of negotiations,” Kingdom said.

Explorer Gulf Keystone Petroleum is not in talks with U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil Corp about a 7 billion pounds ($10.9 billion) bid, a source familiar with the Kurdistan-focused group’s thinking said on Monday. The Independent on Sunday newspaper reported that Exxon was considering making an estimated 800 pence per share bid – five times Gulf Keystone’s closing share price on Friday. The report, which drove Gulf Keystone’s shares up as much as 24 percent on Monday, said the company’s board had discussed Exxon’s interest a fortnight ago. But a source familiar with Gulf Keystone’s thinking said there were no talks with Exxon.

European Goldfields, which has agreed to a C$2.5 billion ($2.4 billion) takeover by Canadian group Eldorado Gold, is hoping to keep an investment deal with Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund as a fall back option. Qatar Holdings agreed in October to provide a $600 million project financing loan to European Goldfields, which has development stage assets in Greece and Romania, in its first investment in a gold miner. It also provided a $150 million loan note and a related warrant issue, and became a major shareholder, with a 9.9 percent stake. Eldorado’s strong balance sheet means European Goldfields is unlikely to need the cash from Qatar if the takeover goes through — but it does need two-thirds of shareholders to back the deal when they vote in February.

M & A wrap: Zynga IPO: Bubbleville?

As Zynga prepares for the largest technology public offering since Google, Reuters’ tech editor Peter Lauria and reporters Anthony DeRosa and Liana Baker hash it out over Zynga’s estimated $9 billion valuation.

How Zynga ultimately performs as a public company will depend in large part on its ability to break free from Facebook.

Mark Pincus makes power play with Zynga IPO.

Healthcare products and medical device maker Covidien plans to spin off its pharmaceutical business into a stand-alone public company.

M & A wrap: A bumpy ride for Zynga?

Online gaming firm Nexon slipped on its trading debut following a $1.2 billion IPO, Japan’s biggest this year, and may signal a bumpy ride for U.S.-based rival Zynga, which debuts on Nasdaq later this week.

The Deal Journal cautioned investors over the upcoming Internet IPOs such as Zynga and Yelp: “Buying in the open market on the first day of trading with the intent of holding the stock has not been a profitable strategy.”

Goldman Sachs, the first Wall Street firm to win an underwriting license in China, is sitting out the world’s busiest initial public offering market, Bloomberg reports.