Deals wrap: Nasdaq, ICE drop NYSE bid

Nasdaq OMX and IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) dropped their $11.1 billion bid for rival exchange NYSE Euronext after it became clear the deal would not gain approval from U.S. antitrust regulators. The companies first offered to buy the New York Stock Exchange parent on April 1, aiming to curb a proposed friendly merger with Deutsche Boerse that was worth $10.2 billion when first announced in February. Deutsche Boerse responded to the news of the dropped bid by saying it plans to continue to pursue a merger with the Big Board parent.

In other exchange merger news, a consortium of Canadian banks and pension funds launched a $3.7 billion bid for TMX Group in the hopes of keeping Canada’s largest stock exchange from falling under foreign ownership. The bid tops a $3 billion offer for the exchange operator from the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The LSE said it remains committed to its own merger proposal with the TMX despite the higher rival offer, but should its bid fail it could find itself to be a takeover target, analysts said.

U.S. chemicals group DuPont won its takeover battle for Danish food ingredients company Danisco. The $6.4 billion acquisition is a part of DuPont’s push into the food technology business that CEO Ellen Kullman says will “create an industry leader in industrial biosciences and nutrition and health.”

BP is in talks aimed at buying out its Russian partners in its TNK-BP joint venture and other options to help secure passage of a stalled share swap and Arctic exploration deal, sources close to the matter told Reuters.

Yahoo and Alibaba Group will have a tough time resolving their feud over the Chinese company’s transfer of a major Internet asset despite a joint statement from both companies that said they were working towards a resolution, writes Reuters correspondent Melanie Lee.

Deals wrap: Microsoft acquires Skype for $8.5 billion

Microsoft plans to buy internet telephone network Skype for $8.5 billion, the biggest purchase ever for the world’s largest software company as it seeks to regain ground on growing rivals. The money-losing Skype has 145 million users on average each month and has gained favor among small business users. The deal would also give Microsoft a foothold in the potentially lucrative video-conferencing market. Skype, which is minority owned by eBay, allows people to make calls at no charge but also offers some paid features.

This article in the Guardian by Graeme Wearden asked telecoms analysts what they think about the Microsoft-Skype deal.

Reuters columnist Felix Salmon gives his opinion on how being public eases acquisitions for companies, using the Microsoft-Skype deal and Facebook’s earlier interest in Skype as an example. Salmon writes that had Facebook been public, it could have snapped up Skype itself instead of having Microsoft buy it to keep it out of Google’s hands.

Deals wrap: Teva trumps rival to win Cephalon bid

The world’s largest generic drugmaker, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries plans to buy U.S. specialty drugmaker Cephalon for $6.8 billion,  topping an unsolicited bid by Canadian rival Valeant Pharmaceuticals International.

Warner Music’s $3 billion buyout could be done by the end of the week, according to a person familiar with the matter. Final buyout bids for the company are due today. Warner Music’s board effectively put itself up for sale in January when it appointed Goldman Sachs and AGM Partners to assess interest from external parties.

Danisco, the Danish food ingredients and enzymes producer urged shareholders to accept a higher takeover bid from chemicals group DuPont as fund managers welcomed the “decent offer” and said it would likely succeed. DuPont raised its offer for Danisco by 5 percent to 700 Danish crowns ($139) per share from 665, making its cash offer worth $6.64 billion.