DealZone

Hershey’s day in the sun

HERSHEYWith the smell of Cadbury Cream Eggs and Kraft cheese slices thick in the air, Nestle could well be getting hungry for some M&A. Will the Kraft-Cadbury deal soften the Hershey Trust enough for a Nestle merger?

Nestle has plenty of firepower with $28 billion from the sale of its remaining stake in eyecare group Alcon and Hershey might be seen as no more than a large bolt-on. In addition, Hershey is one deal Nestle could do without big anti-trust issues.

And as David Jones reports, from a Hershey perspective, some heat may be softening the the Hershey Trust’s aversion to a deal.

The fact that Hershey had been actively trying to fund a bid for Cadbury, even if it ultimately failed, has raised speculation about its future, as has the fact that 85 percent of its sales come from the U.S. market, where Kraft is likely to attack it with Cadbury products.

Hershey, as a pure confectionery player, is also more exposed to commodity costs like cocoa and sugar than wider ranging groups.

Noted: Will European insurers hit M&A trail?

Analysts at UBS are predicting the European insurance industry could be at the start of a new wave of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) as companies look to counter falling demand for insurance by taking over rivals to boost top-line growth and extract cost synergies.  Bank rescues have created a number of potential targets as well.

The team, led by Marc Thiele, says:

“We believe European large-cap insurers will look for M&A in Eastern Europe and Asia…In our opinion, this would be more attractive than acquiring cash-generative businesses in mature countries; while this tends to offer greater cost-savings potential, it also offers less premium growth.

“On top of the normal M&A considerations, there are a number of additional game-changing transactions possible following the decisions involving ING and RBS to exit the insurance business in agreement with the European Commission.

Cadbury cracks

The recommended £11.9bn (US$19.4bn) offer by Kraft for Cadbury appears satisfactory to both parties. Kraft gets its prize, ultimately paying 13% more than it initially wanted. Cadbury shareholders receive 48% more than the value of their shares prior to Kraft’s approach.

Cadbury’s board can be pleased they managed to extract so much value when alternative bids seemed unlikely. Kraft’s management, led by Irene Rosenfeld, has remained disciplined helped by the side deal: selling its pizza business to Nestle for US$3.7bn.

Nevertheless, increasing the cash element of its offer to 500p a share, or 60% of the total bid, could cause Kraft some financial headaches, pushing its debt levels to over four times EBITDA. Rosenfeld denies that it will affect the company’s credit rating. If it did, the deal’s rationale would be dented.

DealZone Daily

Monday’s highlights:

London-based oil explorer Tullow Oil (TLW.L) exercises a right to buy Ugandan oil fields which its partner in the fields, Heritage Oil (HOIL.L), previously agreed to sell to Italy’s Eni (ENI.MI) for $1.5 billion.

Some of Cadbury’s (CBRY.L) biggest shareholders, led by Legal & General, continued to reject Kraft Foods’ 10.5 billion pound ($17.2 billion) bid and will look for an increased offer.

Brazil’s Camargo Correa Group reiterates its interest in cement maker Cimpor and says it is pondering its options after the Portuguese stock market regulator turned down its merger proposal.

Keeping score: mid-market M&A in 2009

Dealmaking involving smaller companies held up marginally better than big-ticket mergers and acquisitions in 2009, according to Thomson Reuters data released on Monday. Deals of up to $500 million fell 26 percent compared to 2008, versus a 28 percent drop in the overall market, as still-tough credit conditions and the relative scarcity of private equity kept the clamps on the market.

A couple of points from the review:

“Mid-Market M&A valued up to US$500 million totalled US$532.4 billion during 2009, a 26.3% decrease from last year.

“This resulted in US$12.7 billion in estimated fees, according to Thomson Reuters/Freeman Consulting.

DealZone Daily

British bid target Cadbury will paint a glowing picture of its prospects this week as it makes an  impassioned plea for independence and endeavours to fend off Kraft’s advances.  Meanwhile, Italian chocolate-makerFerrero is still undecided on whether or not to bid for the embattled confectioner but has lined up a $4.5 billion loan from Mediobanca, The Times writes, citing Italian news reports over the weekend.

In another multi-billion M&A process, Dutch brewer Heineken will pay $5.4 billion in shares to acquire the beer business of Mexico’s FEMSA.

For other deals news from Reuters, click here.

And in other media:

Richard Branson has approached US buyout giant Blackstone about backing a bid for Northern Rock’s “good bank” being spun out of the state-owned lender, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Carefully Krafted

NESTLE/(Acquisitions Monthly) Nestle’s neat moves over the New Year put it in pole position to help carve up Cadbury. The Swiss company’s decision to exercise its US$28.1bn option to sell its remaining Alcon shares to Novartis gives it the firepower to control the fate of the British confectioner.

Nestle’s strong balance sheet, enhanced further by the Alcon agreement, has made it the one obvious alternative bidder to Kraft for Cadbury. The latter is now worth just US$17bn after today’s 3% fall to 778.5p. However, Nestle has done a superb job at putting the market off the scent.

Rationally, the group’s position as the second largest UK chocolate producer should rule it out from making a bid. That is still the case. As Nestle stated this morning, “it does not intend to make, or participate in, a formal offer for Cadbury”.

The afternoon deal

JORDAN/Clarity is in short supply today when it comes to IPOs.  Two companies filed for inital public offerings worth $100 million and $300 million on Monday, underscoring an impression of  investors growing more comfortable with companies they may have deemed too risky in 2009.

Following the upbeat tone is aluminum giant UC RUSAL securing some heavy-weight  investors –a member of the Rothschild family as well as one of southeast Asia’s richest men– in an IPO now bumped up in value to possibly $27 billion.

But wait, not all is rosy. A top China train maker, CNR, limped in its market debut after its $2 billion IPO in Shanghai. Valued at 49 times its 2008 earnings, investors tolerance was tested and the stock closed up a weaker-than-expected 2.34 percent.

DealZone Daily

Monday’s big deal stories:

Dubai moves to ring-fence prized assets from the $26 billion debt restructuring of Dubai World, denting already fragile investor sentiment ahead of talks between the struggling conglomerate and key creditors.

British confectioner Cadbury (CBRY.L) gives itself a week to post a formal response to Kraft’s (KFT.N) $16 billion takeover offer.

British waste management firm Shanks Group Plc reveals a 536 million pound ($889 million) buyout approach, sending its shares soaring, but says its board and key shareholders were looking for at least 10 percent more.

Reliance aims big with $12 bln bid for LyondellBasell

Ranked by Forbes as India’s richest man with a net worth of $32 billion, Mukesh Ambani Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, is no stranger to taking risks.

The move by conglomerate Reliance Industries, controlled by Ambani, to bid for bankrupt LyondellBasell is a calculated one. Markets seem to think this is a bargain and investors pushed up Reliance’s stock nearly 4 percent on Monday.

If the deal, which sources say may be worth $12 billion,  goes through, it would catapult Reliance into the ranks of top petrochemical makers such as Saudi Arabia’s SABIC, Germany’s BASF and Dow Chemical Co.