DealZone

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?

Links:

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.

Or see Alphaville on how the FSA itself dubbed Northern Rock, er,  ”Elvis”.”

Spark needed

Could the sale of Britain’s biggest electricity distribution network help re-energise infrastructure dealmaking?

The supposedly steady business of buying and running roads, ports, and power grids has had a torrid time. The credit crunch has undermined some big infrastructure players, made it tricky to finance deals, and revealed that demand for some services — like toll roads and airports — is flakier than expected. Asset sales have run aground, instead of commanding the big premiums they would have fetched in the frantic debt-fuelled auctions of yore.

Nonetheless, optimists say the world’s long-term infrastructure needs are enormous. They are also cheered by the record $100 billion or so of funds that Preqin says are currently being raised (albeit slowly). And there may be some chinks of light on the M&A front. As Greg Roumeliotis and I wrote earlier:

Going Nuclear

It is said that all that glitters is not gold. Keep that in mind when considering the bidding war heating up the nuclear power business. France’s EDF has offered $6.5 billion for half of Constellation Energy Group‘s nuclear business and some other assets, trumping Warren Buffett’s bid of $4.7 billion for all of Constellation.
 
If plummeting demand for everything from new cars to tin foil could fell BHP‘s monster bid for Rio Tinto, why wouldn’t it weigh on demand for energy? While nuclear power has regained some favor as a cheap, relatively clean alternative to nasty fossil fuels, is it really safe to expect consumers to ramp up electric heat this winter, and air conditioning next summer, when they are worried about losing their jobs?
 
And today brings more evidence that the lengthy, torturous bid process BHP endured before walking away from Rio Tinto may have saved it from dealing with a disastrous downturn in demand. Freeport McMoran, which bought Phelps Dodge for $26 billion two years ago, slashed its dividend this morning after raising it only four months ago.  
 
Constellation shares rose nearly 20 percent to over $30 this morning, but that is still well below the value of the EDF bid — $52 a share. Perhaps investors aren’t quite so warm and fuzzy toward nukes after all.

* Australia said it is open to a $5.9 billion merger between Qantas Airways and British Airways as long as it’s not a takeover, sending the Australian carrier’s shares up nearly 10 percent.

* A Japanese unit of Prudential Financial plans to bid for two Japanese life insurers put up for sale by American International Group, people familiar with the matter said.