DealZone Daily

British insurer Prudential is to list in Hong Kong on May 11 and announced a secondary listing in Singapore to fund its $35.5 billion takeover of rival AIA, AIG’s Asian life insurance business.  Prudential said it would publish prospectuses for each of the listings on May 5.

U.S. air carriers United Airlines and Continental are considering a nil premium all stock merger to create the world’s largest airline valued at about $6.6 billion.  US Airways earlier dropped out of merger discussions with United. Many believed United had only entered talks with US Airways to draw out Continental, arguably a better match for it.

CenturyTel is to buy Qwest Communications in another stock deal, valuing the combination of the U.S.’s third and fourth largest landline telephone companies at $10.6 billion. The deal is designed to let the new business, CenturyLink, cut costs and compete more effectively, as consumers increasingly unplug their phone lines and go mobile.

For other Reuters deals news, click here.

In other media:

American clothing group North Face has take a 5 percent stake in Blacks Leisure, a move that could prevent Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct mounting another bid for the outdoor clothing retailer, the Telegraph reports.

Private equity firm Bridgepoint is in exclusive talks to buy arts and crafts retailer Hobbycraft for more than 100 million pounds the FT reports, seeing off interest from rivals Blackstone and Exponent and car parts and cycle retailer Halfords.

Could there be gold for CenturyTel in them thar’ landlines?

There is a sound logic to mergers in the market for fixed-line telephones. Mobile connectivity is increasingly marginalizing the business and clouding its prospects. A bunch of small, regional fixed-line operators, this logic goes, will have a much harder time squeezing profit out of the business than a few larger players.

But are things really so bleak for CenturyTel, which said on Thursday it would buy Qwest Communications in a $10.6-billion stock deal? The cost-cutting near-merger-of-equals comes with what might look like a skimpy 15 percent premium to Qwest’s market price, and investors are hardly cheering the news by bidding up stocks. But if growth forecasts for landlines are low, then a the premium probably should be as well.

One possible nugget for investors could be in broadband. CenturyTel said the deal improves its ability to reach customers over its network, deploy new high-speed services to business customers, and expand the availability of broadband connections to consumers.