DealZone

Deals wrap: Reaching for the wine

Red wine made by Fosters is displayed on the shelf of a liquor store in Melbourne September 8, 2010. REUTERS/Mick Tsikas Foster’s beer business has been getting all the limelight recently but the company has now rejected a private equity offer worth up to $2.5 billion for its wine business. The news raised speculation that suitors for the combined group, which has a market value of about $11 billion, might now step forward. *View article *View article on Foster’s CEO

BA-Iberia has earmarked Asia as a key region for expansion once their own merger solidifies, though restrictions on foreign investment could narrow their range of acquisition targets.*View article

The defense world is bracing for a whirlwind of dealmaking as tighter budgets and new security threats prompt the Pentagon’s large contractors to move resources to cybersecurity and unmanned defense. *View article *View graphic *View full coverage of the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit

Too many green technology IPOs recently have been big on hype but slow on results, Wired reports. The site has come up with some bright prospects going forward. *View article *IPO Candy gives a  wider look at the IPO market

DealZone Daily

British Airways (BAY.L) and Spanish carrier Iberia (IBLA.MC) sign their merger agreement, sealing a long-awaited deal to create the world’s third largest airline by revenue. The deal creates a group with a combined market value of around $8 billion. Read the Reuters story here.

India’s Essar plans a $2.5 billion listing in the United Kingdom. The energy company expects to be included in the FTSE and has hired JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank to help it sell its shares.

UAL Corp’s United Airlines is in merger talks with US Airways in a deal that could create the second-largest carrier in the United States, two sources tell Reuters. Read the story here.

Deals du Jour

Kraft’s bid for UK confectionary company Cadbury continues to generate headlines. And given the personalities involved, this should not be a surprise. Some of London’s top rainmakers are set to square up against a superstar of the 1980s merger era, Reuters’ Victoria Howley notes.

And here’s a round-up of deal-related stories from Thursday’s press:

* Volkswagen is considering overhauling its trucks business in a move that could herald a tie-up with German truckmaking and engineering group MAN AG, the Financial Times said. Reuters story here.

* Twitter is closing a round of funding that will value the company known for its 140-character, stream-of-consciousness blogs at $1 billion, technology news site TechCrunch said.

from Commentaries:

Consolidation Air, nobody’s favourite airline

JAL/With airlines around the world struggling to survive the economic downturn, the time should be nearing to break the taboo of consolidation in the sector.

Airlines around the globe face losses of $11 billion in 2009, according to IATA. Margins are expected to fall this year and next, with analysts predicting carriers are likely to struggle for years to reach levels needed to produce an acceptable return for capital market investors.

Societe Generale estimated in a recent note that margins would drop to -3.1 percent in 2010 before recovering to 1 percent in 2011, well short of the 10 percent needed.

UPDATE-BA’s convertible bond flies off the shelves

*This post was updated after the bond priced*

British Airways unveiled a $1 billion fundraising aimed at securing its future earlier on Friday, including $540 million in bank loans that had been earmarked for its pension funds as a safety net against the airline going bust.

The fundraising also included a 350 million pound ($570.5 million) convertible bond, which was over 7 times covered, pointing to healthy investor appetite.

Convertible bonds have become an increasingly important source of finance for firms in Europe. The instrument allows companies to raise capital paying less interest than standard bonds, while avoiding an immediate dilution of earnings per share because investors look to gains in share prices over a medium term.

European airlines merging, U.S. talks to take off next?

airfrance-alitaliaEuropean airline mergers, long expected, are now taking wing.

Air France-KLM in January bought a 25-percent stake in Alitalia after a failed attempt at buying the entire carrier last year. The airline fought it out with Lufthansa, which lost the battle but didn’t sit around moping. It quickly launched Lufthansa Italia, which took its maiden flight a few days ago.

Ryanair, Europe’s largest discount airline, has withdrawn its bid for Aer Lingus after the irish government rejected the $1 billion deal. Ryanair is now expected to look for alternative targets.

British Airways remains in merger talks with Spain’s Iberia. Those talks have become complicated by the pound’s recent slide against the euro, making Iberia’s market capitalization now higher than BA’s.

A British-Iberia merger could squeeze American

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British Airways and Spain’s Iberia are in talks to create the world’s third-largest airline and inject some “long-overdue” consolidation in the industry, in the words of BA CEO Willie Walsh.

Where would a combined BA-Iberia leave American Airlines, which was in talks to form a transatlantic alliance with the two airlines? Would a BA-Iberia merger scuttle American’s chances at an alliance?

The argument for forming an alliance and seeking an antitrust waiver was that the “Open Skies” agreement — which frees up restrictions on carriers flying between the United States and Europe — is set to increase transatlantic competition among airlines. That’s a harder pitch to sell if a BA/Iberian merger, creating Europe’s largest airline, shrinks the number of major players in the market.