DealZone

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.”

Checking BP’s life signs

Lawmakers are blasting Big Oil on Capitol Hill, but most of the execs from Exxon, Conoco, Chevron etc may have more to gain from the slap-down then they stand to lose if you consider the real target of their ire, BP.

For weeks, with its share price scraping the sea bed, BP has been the subject of take-under talk. Every time another politician assigns another zero to the end of the cost of the clean-up, and each call for BP to cut its dividend, puts the British company’s future further into question.

And why wouldn’t BP’s competitors want to see a weakened rival possibly turn up as cheap easy pieces to pick up in forced asset sales?

Keeping score: Exxon-XTO data points

From the Thomson Reuters data team:

    Exxon Mobil’s $40.7 billion acquisition of XTO Energy ranks as the sixth biggest announced worldwide M&A transaction this year and the fourth biggest US target transaction. The deal ranks as the eighth biggest Energy & Power M&A transaction in history and marks the biggest US transaction since Chevron’s $43.3 billion acquisition of Texaco in October 2000.  The $85.1 billion combination of Exxon and Mobil in December 1998 ranks as the biggest Energy & Power deal on record. Worldwide, energy & power M&A totals $330.9 billion for year-to-date 2009, an 18.1% decrease from last year at this time.  Worldwide M&A in the oil & gas sector totals $203.7 billion, a 17.2% increase over last year at this time. In the US, energy & power M&A accounts for 12.2% of overall activity, a 7.5 decline from last year.  Oil & gas M&A activity in the US totals $74.9 billion, a 35.6% increase over 2008. With the announcement, JP Morgan (advisor to Exxon Mobil), moves from fourth place to third place for worldwide merger advisors, with $467.5 billion in announced deals from 299 deals. Barclays and Jefferies (advisors to XTO Energy) rank 10th and 21st, respectively. In the US, JP Morgan remains in third place with $269.5 billion.  Barclays moves to sixth place from seventh and Jefferies moves from 23rd place to 13th.