DealZone

Deals wrap: Goldman buys a Chinese life insurance policy

Passengers walk around the fences to enter the Beijing West Railway Station January 31, 2011.REUTERS/Jason Lee Goldman Sachs is betting big on the word’s largest insurance market with its purchase of a 12 percent stake in China’s Taikang Life Insurance Co Ltd. Goldman’s deal could pave the way for Taikang’s planned initial public offering next year. Credit Suisse estimates China’s life insurance market –which generated $124 billion premium income in 2009 — will grow more than 20 percent per annum for the next decade.

BP’s proposed $16 billion share swap with Rosneft received a stay of execution when an arbitration panel gave it time to try to extend its April 14 deadline for the deal. The co-owners of BP’s Russian venture TNK-BP are trying to block the deal with Rosneft arguing that it violates TNK-BP’s shareholder agreement.  By not killing the deal outright, the panel has given BP time to either persuade TNK-BP to drop its case or cut them in on the deal.

U.S. securities regulators may ease constraints on share issues by private companies, making it easier for start-ups like Facebook, Twitter and Zynga to raise money, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The Wall Street Journal’s Mike Spector provides an inside look at the intense bidding that took place for the Blockbuster chain on Wednesday night. A person who was at the auction says it “was at times like a ‘cage match’.”

Deals wrap: A Blockbuster deal for Dish?

A Blockbuster movie rental store is seen in Golden, Colorado September 16, 2009. REUTERS/Rick WilkingActivist investor Carl Icahn may have shown up in person at Blockbuster’s bankruptcy auction to place his bid, but it was U.S. satellite TV provider Dish Network that walked away the winner.

Dish, led by satellite billionaire Charlie Ergen, won the assets of the once-mighty video rental chain for about $320 million, beating out Icahn and at least two other bidders in an auction that lasted into the early morning hours on Wednesday.

NYSE Euronext will “absolutely not” be placing a counterbid for Nasdaq OMX, a source close to the Big Board told Reuters corresondent Paritosh Bansal in an exclusive interview. The source said such a combination would be strategically unattractive and face “insurmountable antitrust problems.”

Deals wrap: Oil sensitivities

A security officer keeps watch outside the headquarters of China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC), China's top offshore oil producer, in Beijing in this February 19, 2008 file picture.   REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV/Files    CNOOC agreed to pay $1.1 billion for a stake in a U.S. shale oil and gas field, testing the U.S. political climate with a deal for assets once deemed off limits to the Chinese due to protectionist sentiment. *View article *View factbox on China M&A activity

Rival bids for Potash look unwieldy, analysts say, which leaves Potash alone to defend itself from BHP’s $39 billion offer. *View article *View timeline

The private equity industry is bouncing back and has a strong presence in UK mergers and acquisitions, according to the FT. *View article

Blockbusted – Icahn cuts stake in troubled video chain

Blockbuster‘s biggest shareholder, and one of the market’s most prominent activist investors, is heading for the door, heaping another note of gloom to the video chain’s hopes to avoid bankruptcy.

Filings show Billionaire investor Carl Icahn cut his stake in Blockbuster by selling more than 13 million shares. Over the past week he trimmed his ownership of the Class A shares to 5.1 percent as of March 29, according to a federal filing. In January he reported a 16.9 percent stake. He also reduced his stake in the company’s Class B shares.

To be fair, Blockbuster is already positioning itself for a trip to Bankruptcyland, having said earlier this month that it might need to file for protection from creditors.

More Microhooey?

People walk past Yahoo! offices in Santa MonicaThe Wall Street Journal leads with a piece saying Microsoft is preparing a new bid for Yahoo‘s search business that could bring on board media giants Time Warner and News Corp and effectively lead to Yahoo’s breakup. The talks are preliminary and unlikely to result in a deal with Yahoo, the paper said, and although it all seems whimsical, Yahoo shares jumped more than 6 percent in early trade. Yahoo rejected a $47.5 billion takeover offer by Microsoft, and earlier this week questioned whether the software maker was ever serious about a full-scale merger. Carl Icahn, who is running a slate of directors to replace Yahoo’s board and has called for the removal of Chief Executive Jerry Yang, has met with Microsoft, which is encouraging him to press his proxy contest as a way to keep pressure on Yahoo to enter into a deal that would lift its share price, the paper said, citing people familiar with the matter.

British events organizer and publisher Informa said it was considering a 2.15 billion pound ($4.3 billion) bid approach from a consortium of private equity firms, sending its shares 10 percent higher. Informa said in a statement that Providence Equity, The Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friedman had made a bid proposal of 506 pence a share on June 26. “Discussions continue to be at an early stage and there can be no certainty that an offer will be made,” it said. When news emerged last month that the equity firms were working on a bid for the media company, the shares showed only modest gains as analysts questioned whether a deal would succeed in the current tight credit markets.

The markets took down another deal yesterday. Blaming grim market conditions Blockbuster abandoned its $1.3 billion offer to buy electronics retailer Circuit City. Shares of the video rental chain jumped more than 7 percent in extended trade after the news while Circuit City’s shares fell 1.6 percent, after declining nearly 12 percent at Tuesday’s close — hitting their lowest point in two decades. Speculation that a potential deal with Blockbuster would not happen gained ground after Circuit City posted a wider quarterly loss and cut its dividend in June.