Deals wrap: AIA shines in Hong Kong

An office worker leaves the AIA central building in Hong Kong's financial district September 21,2010.REUTERS/Tyrone Siu AIA Group surged 17 percent in its Hong Kong debut as investors piled into the record offering. The strong start boosted AIA’s market value above the $35.5 billion Prudential had initially offered for AIA in March, vindicating AIG’s decision not to accept the $30.4 billion bid that followed.

While investors flocked to IPOs of AZ Electronic and the Warsaw bourse, a dose of realism soured Enel’s goal to raise $4.2 billion from its green power unit. Enel dropped the bottom of its price range for Enel Green Power to 1.6 euros from 1.8 euros. “There are plenty of IPOs that seem to be working particularly well, and it is all to do with the willingness of the seller to be realistic,” said a source close to the deal.

Just days before bankers are expected to begin an IPO road show, General Motors buffs up its finances with a repayment to U.S. taxpayers and early payments to pension and retiree health plans. Taking a step back, the WSJ asks if GM is really worth $70 billion.

The NYT looks at how Blackstone Group and the Carlyle Group are reacting to the cheap corporate debt environment and how their views differ on current buyout opportunities.

Deals wrap: Power merger

A sign is pictured on Wall St. near the New York Stock Exchange in New York November 25, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson Northeast Utilities will buy peer NSTAR in a $4.17 billion all-stock deal to create one of the largest U.S. utilities. *View article

BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto scrapped a plan for a $116 billion iron ore joint venture. The announcement was widely expected and could result in both miners stepping up competing expansions. *View article *View reaction

“The strong interest from traditional funds and high-profile Chinese investors in the sale of the unit of American International Group comes amid a flood of Asian IPOs that have cemented the region’s dominance in initial public offerings this year,” reports Denny Thomas and Kennix Chim. *View AIA article *View article on the IPO fee bonanza

Groupon’s valuation has been growing fast but don’t expect the company to have the same success as Ebay, writes TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington. *View article

Deals wrap: A deal on insurance

A panel on top of AIA Central, previously AIG Tower, flashes the company sign at Hong Kong's financial Central district February 12, 2010.   REUTERS/Bobby Yip Asian bourses are bracing for more insurance IPOs over the next year, after AIA’s expected record offer next month, with regulatory changes and higher capital requirements forcing companies to tap stock markets.

“This is going to be the age of IPOs. There is more to come in Korea, China and India as well,” one banker said. *View article * View article on NAB pulling out of AXA unit bid *View WSJ article on AIG’s expedited plans to pay back taxpayers

The share price of, China’s No.2 online portal, is too low for the company to consider putting itself up for sale, its chief executive said amid a 15 percent jump in its shares over the past month on buyout rumors. *View article

Deals wrap: Who’s interested in AIA?

The logo of the AIA tower is seen at its entrance in Hong Kong July 13, 2010.REUTERS/Tyrone Siu AIG has started talks with potential investors to sell stakes in its Asian life insurance business AIA ahead of AIA’s planned IPO, sources say. *View article* In a related matter, Prudential says its failed bid for AIA, which collapsed in May, will cost less than first expected. *View article

General Motors posts its biggest quarterly profit in six years a day ahead of an expected IPO filing. *View article *View article

Private equity firms that benefited from Dubai’s boom years are now looking to the emirate for reforms needed to revive the sector, writes Nicolas Parasie and Dinesh Nair. *View analysis

Deals wrap: SSL is on the market

Models pose with a replica of a condom during the 2001 Durex Global Sex Survey Press conference in Hong Kong November 27, 2001. REUTERS/Kin CheungReckitt Benckiser agreed to buy Durex condoms maker SSL for $3.8 billion. SSL stock jumped on the news as potential counterbidders could include Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline, which are looking to expand their over-the-counter businesses. * View article

AIG is set to elevate Goldman Sachs to the top role for handling the initial public offering of its Asian life insurance unit, sources said. Morgan Stanley was an early favorite to lead AIA’s aborted IPO last year, before Prudential offered to buy the unit and IPO plans were shelved. The Prudential deal subsequently fell apart. * View article

Is Facebook worth $11 billion or $30 billion? Investors, and underwriting banks, have been salivating over an IPO for months. MSN Money takes a look at how to value the social-networking company. * View article

Deals wrap: Taking AgBank’s temperature

It is going to be tough for Agricultural Bank of China’s (AgBank) IPO to match the first-day jump in share price enjoyed by its rivals, analysts say. Institutions are expected help stabilize the stock price of the politically sensitive IPO but liquidity, the economy’s health and a flood of new share issues are seen as action against the company. *View article *More coverage *Asia’s top IPOs graphic

Shares in cellphone maker Nokia edged lower as analysts questioned the wisdom of its possible purchase of Motorola’s network equipment unit to boost its weak North American position. *View article

The board of American International Group is expected to meet to consider the future of its AIA unit, with a public float seen as the most likely outcome, sources say. *View article

Deals wrap: Floating AIA

An office worker leaves the AIA tower in Hong Kong July 13, 2010.   REUTERS/Tyrone Siu An initial public offering of AIA is likely, sources say. AIA, seen as AIG’s Asian crown jewel, is a key cog in the bailed-out insurer’s plans to repay U.S. taxpayers, who now own nearly 80 percent of the company. View article

The Wall Street reform bill appeared to gain the support it needed for final congressional approval as three key Republicans said they would support the measure. Analysts — and opponents of the bill — expect the bill to ultimately reach President Barack Obama’s desk for approval. View article

Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says if the authority given in the Wall Street reform bill currently before Congress was available during his tenure, the impact of the financial crisis would have been significantly reduced. View NYT article

Clock ticks as AIG ponders AIA’s prospects

American International Group CEO Robert Benmosche asked the insurer’s board for time to explore options besides a public offering for its Asian life unit after a $35.5 billion deal to sell it to Prudential fell apart, a source familiar with the matter tells Paritosh Bansal.

Benmosche wanted to explore other options for American International Assurance, including selling parts of the business, after the directors on Monday voted down a sale to Prudential on revised terms, the source said. The British insurer had asked AIG to cut the price to $30.4 billion.

Putting aside for the moment what AIA may actually be worth, AIG’s board and even Uncle Sam can possibly be forgiven for not wanting to appear too desperate to sell. They certainly would have had a harder time setting prices for other assets if Pru was able to knock a sixth off the price just for asking.

AIG won’t haggle?!

With an outstanding IOU to Uncle Sam of more than $50 billion, AIG hardly seems to be in a position to turn up its nose at a lower bid for AIA from Britain’s Prudential. The message was pretty clear to Pru’s CEO Tidjane Thiam that his shareholders were in little mood to approve a $21 billion rights issue to fund a $35 billion purchase of AIG’s Asian assets. So he came back with a $30 billion offer. No surprises there. He’d be mad not to haggle, particularly given it looks like Pru is the only buyer out there.

Suggestions that AIG would opt for an IPO of the Asian business shouldn’t have been much of a threat to Pru’s bid. Expectations were that AIG would get around half what Pru was offering – after haggling – if it went to market, and that assumed a market with a whole lot more appetite for new issues than the one AIG is now looking at.

So what gives? Does AIG have some mystery buyer waiting in the wings willing to hit its magic price tag? Or has AIG CEO Robert Benmosche been given some secret blessing by the U.S. Treasury to slow down the asset sales and try to rebuild the business? That’s almost harder to believe than the white knight suggestion. This is an election year, and politicians will smell blood if it starts to look like AIG is dragging its heels in paying its bills.

Pru gets an earful over AIA deal

RiskMetrics has weighed in against Pru buying AIG’s AIA Asian assets, saying $35.5 billion is too much. The risk advisory firm joins a chorus of analysts chirping away from Singapore to London about problems with a deal that would pay off a huge chunk of AIG’s debt to Uncle Sam while transforming Pru into an Asian powerhouse.

Prudential holds a shareholders vote on June 7 to clear a $21 billion rights offer to fund the acquisition. One big issue is the price tag, which has drawn scrutiny given the fact that AIG has limited leverage to demand a big premium since it is selling the assets under duress. Pru’s ability to hit its projected revenue “synergies” from the deal are a big concern too.

CLSA Asia Pacific Markets, a broker not involved with deal, said in a report last week that a plan keeping both AIA and Pru brands intact and competing with each other will negate such gains. “It is already a challenge to retain agents, let alone target a dramatic increase in sales,” CLSA said.