DealZone

Deals du Jour

Royal Bank of Scotland is talking to investors to gauge support for a “modest” equity placement of 3 to 4 billion pounds, a source tells us, as it tries to limit government control.  JPMorgan and Cazenove are thought to be close to agreeing a price for Cazenove’s share of their J.P. Morgan Cazenove joint venture before the end of the year, the Independent on Sunday newspaper says.

For these and other Reuters stories on deals, click here. And for Monday’s stories in other media (some of the links may require subscription):

German power giant E.ON is in advanced talks with potential partners to build new solar power plants in Andalusia, southern Spain, its chief executive tells Spanish daily Expansion.

Chinese industrial gas provider Yingde Gases Group aims to raise up to HK$3.58 billion ($462 million) in a Hong Kong initial public offering later this month, a Hong Kong newspaper reports.

Martindale, the UK’s leading maker of methadone, has attracted interest from a number of private equity groups, the Financial Times reports on Sunday.

High-frequency trading: useless and manipulative?

Floor tradersThe explosion of interest in high-frequency trading has started to drag new faces to sometimes staid industry conferences. Traders who for years worked on algorithms and computer codes behind the scenes are stepping into the spotlight. They’re appearing on more and more panel discussions, feeling the need to defend their practice against the slings and arrows of politicians and regulators.

So far, they’ve managed to mix exasperation with good humor. The head of one high-frequency trading shop, speaking on a panel this week, said that if you believe everything you read in newspapers you might think the practice is “an unfair, highly profitable and socially useless trading strategy implemented by highly secretive and unregulated traders using superfast computers to compete with retail investors, manipulate markets and front run flash orders causing volatility in the financial markets and creating systemic risk.”

He argued that a more accurate definition of high-frequency trading would be, “a wide variety of highly competitive, low margin trading strategies implemented by professional market intermediaries who have invested heavily in technology that have the effect of making the markets more efficient by enhancing liquidity and transparent price discovery to the benefit of investors.”

Deals du Jour

Kraft’s bid for UK confectionary company Cadbury continues to generate headlines. And given the personalities involved, this should not be a surprise. Some of London’s top rainmakers are set to square up against a superstar of the 1980s merger era, Reuters’ Victoria Howley notes.

And here’s a round-up of deal-related stories from Thursday’s press:

* Volkswagen is considering overhauling its trucks business in a move that could herald a tie-up with German truckmaking and engineering group MAN AG, the Financial Times said. Reuters story here.

* Twitter is closing a round of funding that will value the company known for its 140-character, stream-of-consciousness blogs at $1 billion, technology news site TechCrunch said.

Deals du Jour

The European Commission’s restrictions on state aid for banks may force Lloyds Banking Group to sell off all or part of its Halifax branch network, a report today said. The news comes days after it emerged that Royal Bank of Scotland may dust off old brands ahead of a similar sale, also prompted by the possibility of action from the European Commission.

And here’s a round-up of deal-related stories from Wednesday’s press:

* Creditors of Oleg Deripaska’s En+ energy and metals group may ask the Russian billionaire to pledge a stake of up to 10 percent in aluminium firm UC RUSAL in order to restructure a $1 billion debt, Vedomosti newspaper reported on Wednesday.

* Private equity firm CVC Capital Partners has gathered a group of banks to finance a possible purchase of Anheuser-Busch InBev assets in central and eastern Europe, Belgian daily De Standaard reported. Reuters story here.

Deals du Jour

Shares in Sprint Nextel have soared on talk that Deutsche Telekom may make an offer to buy the company. But the high cost of any deal, combined with the technological challenges, suggest the German company may be better off considering a joint venture rather than a bid, our commentary team say.

The high price of staying competitive in the U.S. market makes the decision on Sprint a tough call for Deutsche Telekom, analysts say.

And here’s a round-up of deal-related stories from Tuesday’s press:

* The U.S. government is talking to Citigroup Inc about how to sell the roughly one-third stake the government acquired as part of its bailout of the bank, Bloomberg said. Reuters story here.

Deals du Jour

A year on from the collapse of Lehman the newspapers are full of stories reflecting on the bank’s failure. A senior Bank of England official said he was “astounded” the U.S. government let the bank fall, but some might be more shocked by the rapid bounce-back of the stock markets, which is helping big M&A deals come down the pipeline.

For the latest Reuters deals news, click here.

And here’s a round-up of deal-related stories from Monday’s press:

* French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde plans to extend billions of euros of loan guarantees to France’s top banks for another year, and is calling on them to provide action plans on financing the economy, Les Echos reported.

* Tony O’Reilly is ready to give up his controlling stake in debt-laden Independent News & Media, following months of restructuring discussions. As part of a wider plan, bondholders will take cash and shares ahead of a rights issue, the Times of London reported.

Road to fortune or highway to hell?

GM-OPEL/That will ultimately be the question asked about what kind of a future the German carmaker Opel faces.

Parent General Motors said on Thursday that it indeed wanted
to sell a majority stake in the unit to Canadian auto parts
group Magna and Russia’s Sberbank, a decision long favoured by the German government under Chancellor Angela Merkel.

With about two weeks to go until a general election in
Europe’s biggest economy, this would clearly be a political
victory — but the question remains whether it will also be an
economic one.

Is the worst over?

Merger mania is back, at least that’s what the numbers seem to show.

A staggering total of about $60 billion worth of corporate deals have been announced or rumoured in global markets since Saturday alone. The takeover feast is impressive, spread as it is across diverse sectors such as foods, semiconductors, financials and telecoms.

Kraft Foods’s blockbuster $16.7 billion offer to buy Cadbury has suddenly turned the spotlight back to dealmaking and swept away markets’ lingering concerns of patchy economic growth. The rising deal volume is a welcome relief for investment banks, who’ve gone through a torrid year after Lehman’s bankruptcy last September brought M&A to a halt. The dealmaking will help them partly fill their coffers with much-needed advisory fees and a kick up in the league tables.

No doubt with many equity markets rallying to 2009 highs, and lured by prospects of improved valuations, many buyers are chasing deals while prices are seen as cheap. That could have been the thinking behind Abu Dhabi’s move to offer $1.8 billion to buy loss-making Nasdaq-listed, Singapore-based Chartered Semiconductor in a chip sector emerging from its worst downturn.

Deals du Jour

A Qualicaps employee handles pills during a demonstration of the company's Visual Inspection Machine, which examines tablets for cracks and defects, at the 21st Interphex Japan pharmaceutical exhibition in Tokyo July 2, 2008. REUTERS/Michael Caronna (JAPAN)Japanese firm Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma Co Ltd (4506.T) agrees a $2.7 billion to buy Sepracor Inc (SEPR.O). Dainippon will acquire a 1,000-strong sales force and drugs to treat insomnia and epilepsy from U.S.-based Sepracor.

Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO.N) has agreed a 330 million euro purchase of German firm Brahms, a manufacturer of disease diagnosis tests. Thermo Fisher, which makes scientific instruments, said the deal would open up promising opportunities for commercialising new patents.

For more on this and the latest Reuters deals news, click here.

And here’s a round-up of deal-related stories from Thursday’s press:

Deals du Jour

A Sun Microsystems sign is pictured at the company's headquarters in Santa Clara, California in this March 18, 2009 file photo.

Oracle Corp’s (ORCL.O) acquisition of Sun Microsystems Inc. (JAVA.O) could be delayed by up to four months if the European Commission’s antitrust authority decide to launch an investigation into the $7.4bn deal. US authorities cleared the sale last week, but the EC is concerned over Oracle gaining ownership of the MySQL database product, sources familiar with the situation tell Reuters.

For this and the rest of the latest deals news from Reuters, click here.

And here’s a round-up of other deals news reported in the press on Wednesday:

* The Cosmen-CVC Capital Partners consortium bidding for bus and train operator National Express (NEX.L) is looking for ways to make its offer more attractive, the Financial Times said.