Deals wrap: AOL still eying Yahoo deal?

AOL Inc has tapped Bank of America to explore strategic options including a potential Yahoo Inc merger, according to people familiar with the matter. The idea of combining AOL with Yahoo is still considered in an early stage and may not materialize into a deal, the sources said.

“First of all, Yahoo has to be approached and this is nowhere close to that point,” said one of the sources.

China’s largest e-commerce company, Alibaba Group, has reportedly been approached by a group of private equity investors to gauge its interest in joining a bid to buy Yahoo. Alibaba is 40 percent held by Yahoo and it was unclear if the bid attempt was part of the AOL deal.

Chevron Corp agreed to buy U.S. natural gas producer Atlas Energy for $3.2 billion, excluding debt, becoming the latest energy giant to break into the lucrative Marcellus shale field. Chevron’s move into the Marcellus follows acquisitions by Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell  earlier this year.

Sanofi Aventis CEO Christopher Viebacher and Genzyme CEO Henri Termeer have exchanged letters over Sanofi’s $18.5 billion hostile takeover bid for Genzyme. M & A Law Prof Blog editor Brian JM Quinn says Viebacher is attempting to assert pressure on his counterpart to do the deal by appealing to Termeer’s “fiduciary duties as a director of a MA (Massachusetts) company.” In related news, the vice chairman of investment advisory firm Peter J. Solomon, Frederick Frank, said “Genzyme is history.”

from India Insight:

Third time’s the charm for Mukesh Ambani

Mukesh Ambani(UPDATE: Reliance Industries has gained an overseas foothold by agreeing to pay $1.7 billion to form a joint venture with U.S.-based Atlas Energy. India's largest-listed firm will pick up a 40 percent stake in Atlas's operations in the booming Marcellus Shale)

The ruthless efficiency and smooth execution that marked Reliance Industries' development of the world’s largest refining complex in western India and its vast gas fields off the country's east coast has eluded the top-listed Indian firm during its recent attempts at overseas takeovers.

Nevertheless, Mukesh Ambani, the world’s fourth-wealthiest man and the chairman of Reliance, is known for his doggedness and is unlikely to backpedal on his overseas ambitions after being rebuffed by two overseas firms -- bankrupt petrochemicals maker LyondellBasell and oil sands firm Value Creation.