Deals wrap: Facebook, Google dueling suitors for Skype

Internet giants Facebook and Google are separately considering a tie-up with Skype after the Web video conferencing service delayed its initial public offering, two sources with direct knowledge told Reuters. A Skype deal could be valued at $3 billion to $4 billion, according to one of the sources.

Swiss commodity trader Glencore’s planned $11 billion listing was fully covered on its first day as investors rushed to take part in the mega-float, two sources close to the deal said on Thursday. Investors placed orders for all the shares on offer, including a 10 percent overallotment option, sources said, adding it was too soon to say where in the indicated 480-580 pence ($0.79-0.95) range the shares would be priced.

Warner Music Group could reach a deal to sell itself as soon as close of business on Thursday when the board meets to make a final decision, according to two sources. The world’s third largest music company is expected to be sold for over $3 billion and leading the bidding is Russian-American industrialist Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries.

Shareholders in Actelion threw their weight behind the management of Europe’s largest biotech company, rejecting proposals by activist investor Elliott Advisors as a battle for control came to a head. New York-based hedge fund Elliott has urged the Swiss biotech group to seek a buyer after a string of product setbacks and has accused Actelion of pursuing a high-risk strategy that has eroded shareholder value.

Looking back over April, a month that has seen 31 companies file to go public in the U.S., this piece by Gwen Robinson for’s Alphaville explains the significance of the bumper crop of IPOs filed this month, including RenRen, Dunkin’ Donuts and Glencore, and why the recent IPO mania seems to be a global trend.

Deals wrap: Is Google getting a deal for Groupon?

Google Inc is inching toward buying e-commerce coupon website Groupon Inc for as much as $6 billion, the New York Times said on Tuesday. A deal, which could be in the range of $5 billion to $6 billion, could be struck as soon as this week but people with direct knowledge of the matter cautioned that the talks between Google and Groupon might still fall apart, the paper said. See Reuters analysis on how Google plans to spend its $33-billion cash hoard.

If completed, the acquisition would be Google’s most expensive to date. But is the price tag too steep? Groupon has so far raised $170 million in venture capital and reportedly hauls in upwards of $50 million every month.

All Things Digital tech columnist Kara Swisher, who first reported Google was interested in buying Groupon, calls the potential blockbuster a “killer move” for Google and writes: “While the $6 billion Google is considering paying seems high, Groupon’s fast-growing revenue and profitability make its multiples less daunting, said those familiar with the matter.”

Deals wrap: Genzyme bid hinges on new drug

Genzyme (GENZ.O), resisting a hostile bid from Sanofi-Aventis (SASY.PA), is open to a deal that links its value to the success of key drug Campath, the U.S. biotech’s chief executive was quoted as saying. But it was not up to Genzyme to suggest that to the French drugmaker, which has launched a $18.5 billion takeover offer for Genzyme, Chief Executive Henri Termeer was quoted as saying in French newspaper Le Figaro.

“This is one of the alternatives that could be explored. We are thinking about it with regard to the Campath molecule. This could be used by Sanofi or by other companies we talk to,” Termeer told the newspaper in an interview.

Global food companies are set to square up against emerging market buyers and private equity players to buy half of Yoplait, the world’s second-largest yogurt maker after French peer Danone (DANO.PA). General Mills (GIS.N), Nestle (NESN.VX) and Lactalis, Europe’s largest dairy group, all have sound strategic reasons to pursue the maker of Petits Filous yogurts and Yop drinking yogurt, valued at 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion) by its CEO Lucien Fa in a Reuters interview.

Deals wrap: Irish banks soon to march to new drummer

ECONOMY-GLOBAL/Ireland’s top three banks will soon be answering to a new boss: the Irish government. Ireland is set to take a majority stake in top lender Bank of Ireland as part of a massive international bailout that could leave the state with effective control of the country’s top three banks.

The state’s ownership of Bank of Ireland could rise to near 80 percent from 36 percent now under the EU/IMF-funded bailout, put at up to 85 billion euros ($114 billion), and Allied Irish Bank could join Anglo Irish Bank in being fully nationalized. Both Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Bank have lost about 40 percent of their value this week as shares plunged on capitalization fears.

But perhaps private investors should not be so quick to flee Ireland – at least that’s the message Wall Street Journal sends to brave investors in a piece that lays out five ways to bet on Ireland now. The list implies there could be money to be made amidst all the chaos, drawing parallels between the current Irish predicament and the similar one the “tiger” economies of Asia faced in 1998.

Deals wrap: Wanna buy an Irish bank?

Ireland’s banks are up for sale, the country’s central bank chief said, as the government seeks to cut them down in size after their reckless lending forced the country to seek an international bailout.

Shares in Bank of Ireland tumbled 29 percent and Allied Irish Banks lost 17 percent as shareholders face dilution from more capital injections, that could see AIB effectively nationalized.

Fortune’s Dan Primack observes how Republican Senator John McCain once used Ireland’s low corporate tax rate as a fiscal beacon, during his presidential run against Barack Obama. “Ireland considers the corporate tax rate to be a cornerstone of its economic well-being, but today that’s like saying that the Vikings consider Brett Favre to be a cornerstone of this year’s Super Bowl hopes,” writes Primack.

Deals wrap: Novell deal a Microsoft maneuver?

MICROSOFT/Attachmate, a privately held provider of technology services, said it’s buying software provider Novell in a $2.2 billion deal. The deal marks the end of a drawn-out auction process the Novell board began back in March after rejecting an unsolicited proposal from Elliott Associates.

A chunk of the deal’s value also includes the concurrent sale of some Novell intellectual property assets for $450 million to a consortium led by Microsoft. Novell and Microsoft have crossed each others’ paths before when they struck a copyright deal over certain Novell assets in 2006. One theory is that this could be Microsoft’s way of maintaining control over the details of that agreement and out of the hands of rivals.

Bailed-out insurer AIG is still shopping around some of its larger assets, restarting its earlier campaign to sell its Taiwan unit Nan Shan Life.  A source close to the process told Reuters on Monday that first-round bids for the unit are likely in early December, shortly after due diligence ends. In August, Taiwan regulators rejected AIG’s plan to sell the unit for $2.15 billion to a Hong Kong-based buyer group. The insurance giant is still struggling to repay its bailout debts to the U.S. government.

Krypton, Helix of Giraffe? It’s all in the code name

M&A reporter Quentin Webb has just taken a look at 2010′s crop of M&A code names, the latest in a long cloak-and-dagger tradition that dates back at least to the “Barbarians at the Gate” era of the 1980s buyout barons. Click here for the full article –  just who was Mercury, Giraffe or Krypton, and why don’t Russian composers make the cut?


A post on code names from DealBook, back at the height of the merger boom, complete with code names for takeovers involving Morgan Stanley and others.

The FSA’s 2007 newsletter admonishing UK firms for “poorly chosen”  code names.

Deals wrap: A white knight for Potash?

In an attempt to thwart a $39-billion hostile takeover bid by BHP Billiton, Potash Corp has turned to China to try to find a white knight, according to the Globe and Mail. The Canadian miner is hoping that China’s worries over BHP getting control over the global potash market will lead to a consortium of companies submitting a rival bid, said the Globe.

“It is a viable option,” an unnamed source close to Potash Corp told the Globe, adding the venture posed some significant challenges in finalizing a consortium’s structure. The bid being considered would include some major capital from a Chinese resource company or investment fund, with smaller contributions from international sovereign wealth funds and possibly Canadian players such as pension funds. *View article*


Smartphone maker Motorola, looking to boost its social networking content, has acquired German software company Aloqa GmbH, according to Reuters. The privately held Aloqa, which has developed a location-based social software, has joined Motorola’s Mobility division, which comprises the company’s set-top box and cellphone businesses. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. *View article*

Deals wrap: Yahoo not selling Alibaba stake

In an exclusive interview with Reuters, Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz said the Internet search company has no intention of selling its stake in Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba.

Bartz told Reuters that despite the Alibaba Group “constantly” approaching them to repurchase Yahoo’s estimated 39-percent stake, the company has no plans to accommodate those requests, adding the investment is “very strategic.” *View article*


Another Chinese company, Sinochem, distanced itself from the possibility of making a bid for Canadian firm Potash Corp, in the wake of BHP Billiton’s $39-million hostile takeover bid for the miner. Han Gensheng, head of Sinochem’s overseas deals, told Chinese magazine Caijing that even a bid of $10 billion would be too large for Sinochem. *View article*

Deals wrap: Vedanta makes bid for Cairn India

India-focused miner Vedanta Resources is reportedly close to buying a 51-percent stake in oil producer Cairn India for $8 billion to $8.5 billion, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. While neither Cairn Energy nor Vedanta would comment, the source said the deal is expected to be announced on Monday.

Cairn India was boosted by a huge oil find in Rajasthan that turned the company into a major oil producer and, according to Reuters, the deal “would be the diversified miner’s (Vedanta) first move into oil and gas.” Read the Reuters factbox on Cairn India here.


Google has been on a spending spree lately and folks are wondering who it will buy next? After paying $182 million for Facebook-app maker Slide earlier this month and reportedly making a buyout offer to Jambool, CEO Eric Schmidt recently told Bloomberg he has doubled the pace of acquisitions after some of Google’s internal projects failed.