DealZone

Deals wrap: No deal for NAB

An office worker walks past the AXA Asia Pacific headquarters in Melbourne December 17, 2009.  REUTERS/Mick Tsikas   National Australia Bank’s bid for AXA Asia Pacific has been blocked for a second time. The Australian competition regulator’s decision clears the way for AMP to make another bid for AXA Asia Pacific and that could come as early as Friday, according to an Australian Associated Press report. *View article *View article on NAB’s CEO

Sanofi-Aventis poured cold water on reports it had raised its offer for Genzyme, saying it was sticking to its bid of $18.5 billion. *View article *View article reporting Sanofi may raise bid

Deal making is a  prominent theme at the Aerospace and Defense Summit being held in Washington, D.C. EADS Chief Executive Louis Gallois said the company’s cash position of 9 billion euros gives it room for “reasonable” acquisitions. Northrop Grumman Chief Executive Wes Bush said the defense contractor has no plans to break itself up, and he would not forecast any large-scale mergers for the industry in the near term.*Full coverage of Aerospace and Defense Summit

DealZone Daily

Australia’s competition watchdog blocked National Australia Bank’s $13 billion agreed deal for wealth manager Axa Asia Pacific Holdings, opening the door for rival bidder AMP to make a comeback. Australia’s competition regulator defied expectations it would give conditional approval for a deal, instead issuing a flat rejection on the grounds a tie-up would hurt competition for retail investors.

British train and bus operator Arriva said it is in advanced talks with Deutsche Bahn about the German state rail company’s 775 pence a share bid, valuing the company at 2.7 billion euros including debt.

European consumer goods group Unilever will kick off the sale of its frozen food arm Findus next week, expecting to draw bids from private equity groups including Permira, Lion Capital and BC Partners.

DealZone Daily

U.S. mall owner General Growth Properties is looking to raise up to $2 billion from public markets to buy its way out of bankruptcy and fend off an unwanted takeover approach. The U.S. no. 2 is facing pressure to enter talks with market leader Simon Property Group, itself in discussions with Blackstone about the private equity firm co-investing in its bid.

National Australia Bank said it is actively pursuing AXA Asia Pacific, despite concerns the takeover fight for the regional arm of the French Insurer was distracting it and hurting earnings growth. The competition regulator last week raised concerns over an NAB-AXA alliance, bolstering the position of rival AMP.

Meanwhile, AXA Private Equity has entered exclusive talks to buy the private equity assets of investment bank Nataxis, which hopes to sell them for 507 million euros, plus a premium to valuation based on performance.

DealZone Daily

British chocolate maker Cadbury (CBRY.L) ramps up its targets for sales and operating margins to show it’s worth more than Kraft’s (KFT.N) hostile $16.5 billion offer. It says it has seen interest from other bidders, but doesn’t mention them . Stock markets are unimpressed — Cadbury shares are up only 0.7 percent.

In the wrangling over Saab, Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Corp (0r BAIC) has said it has acquired some of the assets of the General Motors unit.

French insurer AXA (AXAF.PA) and Australia’s AMP Ltd (AMP.AX)  have raised their takeover offer for AXA Asia Pacific Holdings to $11.7 billion — a 16 percent rise. The two are keen to get their hands on different parts of the business. The French insurer is already the biggest shareholder in AXA Asia Pacific Holdings, and also its parent company.