DealZone Daily

Monday’s top stories:

* Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, China’s largest private-run car maker, agrees to buy Ford Motor’s Volvo car unit for $1.8 billion, the country’s biggest overseas auto purchase. (See how the two carmakers stack up here, and read a profile of Geely founder Li Shufu here.)

* Sinopec , Asia’s top oil refiner, will buy a stake in upstream assets in Angola for $2.46 billion and said it wanted more such deals.

For more on these and the rest of the latest deal-related news from Reuters, click here.

And elsewhere on the web (some external links may require subscriptions):

* Billionaire financier George Soros and philanthropist George Kaiser are in the race to buy close to 4 percent in the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), the Business Standard newspaper reports.

* Australia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Future Fund, is considering buying Macquarie Group’s (MQG.AX) 23.2 percent stake in airports fund MAP Group (MAP.AX), the Age says.

Keeping Score: South Korean IPOs and MetLife record

An overview of the week in M&A, capital markets and syndicated loans — with league tables, up-to-date industry and country trends, as well as top transactions for the past week — from the Deals Intelligence team at Thomson Reuters:

South Korean Offering is Third Largest IPO of the Year

The recently announced $1.6 billion IPO from Korea Life Insurance Co is the largest South Korean IPO of the year and the largest offering from a South Korean company since January 2006. The listing is also the third largest global IPO in 2010. Year-to-date, IPOs in South Korea total nearly $1.9 billion from 13 issues, up nearly seven times from the same time last year.  This IPO bolsters South Korea’s ranking in the global IPO market, accounting for 8% of total proceeds this year.

MetLife Announces Largest Acquisition on Record

US-based MetLife Inc’s $15.5 billion announced acquisition of American Life Insurance Co Inc from AIG is the company’s largest acquisition on record. So far this year, insurance M&A activity in the United States totals $18.7 billion, just over 11% of total United States M&A.  Overall, M&A transactions in the United States are up 12% from the same time last year and deals in the global insurance industry are up over six times compared to 2009.

Keeping score: Food and drink M&A, sovereign debt

Highlights from the Thomson Reuters Investment Banking Scorecard:

“Food and beverage accounts for 10% of M&A

Coca Cola’s $12.1 billion offer to purchase Coca Cola Enterprises, an Atlanta-based producer and wholesaler of bottled beverages, brings the total of M&A activity in the food and beverage sector to $32.4 billion, an increase of 257% compared to the same period in 2009.

Deals in the food and beverage industry account for nearly 10% of all global activity this year and are second only to activity in the oil and gas sector.  Credit Suisse, an advisor to Coca Cola Enterprises, ranks as the top advisor in the food and beverage industry with $26.7 billion from 11 deals for year-to-date 2010.

European issuers power agency and sovereign debt market

This week’s $6.2 billion sovereign debt offering from the United Kingdom bolsters Europe’s stronghold in this market.  For year-to-date 2010, European countries have issued nearly 78% of all sovereign and supranational debt with 285 issues and proceeds of $206.5 billion.  The Americas region follows in second place with $23.3 billion from 52 issues. This week’s offering is the largest debt issue in the United Kingdom this year and the seventh largest agency and sovereign offering in Europe.

The afternoon deal: Deciphering Schlumberger’s deal

OIL/Schlumberger’s stock is down, while shares of Smith are up 8 percent. Is Schlumberger’s $11.34 billion all-stock deal for Smith International a bet on gas, a sign of more consolidation to come, overpriced, or a shrewd move?

Here’s what is being said on the Web:

Schlumberger sees gas drill growth in Smith deal (Reuters)
“No doubt, in the long-term, shale gas is going to be one of the big new energy sources in the U.S. and overseas,” Schlumberger Chief Executive Officer Andrew Gould said, “and the capacity to serve that market in North America is of great interest to me.”

Behind Schlumberger’s Smith Deal: A Big Gas Bet (NYT)
“Schlumberger’s $11 billion takeover of smaller rival Smith Industries seems to be a big bet on unconventional natural gas production in the United States,” reports The New York Times.

DealZone Daily

Sri Lanka has approached Emirates airline about buying the Dubai-based carrier’s stake in state-controlled SriLankan Airlines, Emirates’ president says.

Emirates said in 2008 it was looking to sell all or part of its 43 percent stake in SriLankan Airlines, a holding which had previously been valued at about $150 million.

In M&A and corporate finance news reported by other media on Wednesday:

The pending $15 billion sale of a unit of American International Group to MetLife may be pushed back by a tax dispute that may require a ruling from the Internal Revenue Service, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The afternoon deal: Taxing PE

USA/OBAMAAs a political move, raising the taxes on private equity firms seem a no-brainer but as Megan Davies and Kim Dixon report, gaining tax dollars from the easy target may not be a simple process.

The tax is likely to be a hot issue at one of the private equity industry’s biggest conferences, Super Return International, which starts on Tuesday in Berlin and is attracting heavy hitters from major American buyout firms such as Carlyle and Apollo.

More PE news:

Hot air

Hot air ballonsIn a sign of the times, Air Products and Chemicals has become the latest suitor that does not want to hear ‘no’ for an answer.

The company launched an unsolicited $5.1-billion cash bid to buy rival Airgas in a move to create the largest industrial gas company in North America. In the past four months, Air Products had made two written offers but they were rejected by the Airgas board.

Unsolicited approaches and hostile M&A tend to increase coming out of a recession. As the economy begins to stabilize, stronger players feeling more secure in their own future seize on the chance to buy rivals at still-depressed prices. In the past few months, such deals include Kraft’s bid for Cadbury and the battle involving Agrium, CF and Terra.

The afternoon deal: Kraft and Berkshire financing

BURLINGTONNORTHERN/BERKSHIREThere’s an art to financing a deal and Kraft and Berkshire Hathaway ‘s brushstrokes are showing. Kraft launched a $9.5 billion debt sale to help finance its acquisition of Cadbury, and Berkshire announced a bond sale of up to $8 billion to help pay for its acquisition of Burlington Northern Sante Fe.

Berkshire’s bond sale announcement comes on the same day S&P stripped the company of its top AAA rating, citing capital adequacy and liquidity concerns related to the Burlington acquisition. An investment strategist tells Bloomberg the ratings firms are “are hedging their bets in the event of another economic downturn.”

More from Reuters and the Web:

DealZone Daily

Australian wealth manager AMP Ltd will not seek to extend its exclusive agreement with France’s AXA SA on a joint $11.4 billion bid for AXA’s Australian unit, sources tell Reuters, opening the door for rival bidder National Australia Bank Ltd to start talks with AXA SA.

Shares in Thailand’s Thanachart Capital jump ahead of the announcement of the winning bid for a stake in Siam City Bank (SCIB), for which its Thanachart Bank is the frontrunner. Kaohoon newspaper reports that Thanachart Bank, also 49 percent owned by Canada’s Bank of Nova Scotia, has put in the highest bid of around $958 million for the 47 percent stake, beating HSBC.

In other M&A and corporate finance news reported by Reuters and other media on Wednesday: