DealZone

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.

A day earlier, oil and gas exploration company Energy XXI agreed to buy nine Exxon Mobil oil and gas fields in the Gulf of Mexico for $1.01 billion, an acquisition that will boost the company’s reserves and production by more than 70 percent.

Federal authorities are on the cusp of filing a raft of insider trading cases against the likes of  hedge fund traders, consultants and Wall Street bankers that could be among the biggest ever, several lawyers familiar with the matter told Reuters. The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that the FBI has raided two hedge funds in connection with the probe. The Journal, which first broke news of the three-year investigation, also has a piece on what tactics the FBI likely used in building its case.

Keeping score: Exxon-XTO data points

From the Thomson Reuters data team:

    Exxon Mobil’s $40.7 billion acquisition of XTO Energy ranks as the sixth biggest announced worldwide M&A transaction this year and the fourth biggest US target transaction. The deal ranks as the eighth biggest Energy & Power M&A transaction in history and marks the biggest US transaction since Chevron’s $43.3 billion acquisition of Texaco in October 2000.  The $85.1 billion combination of Exxon and Mobil in December 1998 ranks as the biggest Energy & Power deal on record. Worldwide, energy & power M&A totals $330.9 billion for year-to-date 2009, an 18.1% decrease from last year at this time.  Worldwide M&A in the oil & gas sector totals $203.7 billion, a 17.2% increase over last year at this time. In the US, energy & power M&A accounts for 12.2% of overall activity, a 7.5 decline from last year.  Oil & gas M&A activity in the US totals $74.9 billion, a 35.6% increase over 2008. With the announcement, JP Morgan (advisor to Exxon Mobil), moves from fourth place to third place for worldwide merger advisors, with $467.5 billion in announced deals from 299 deals. Barclays and Jefferies (advisors to XTO Energy) rank 10th and 21st, respectively. In the US, JP Morgan remains in third place with $269.5 billion.  Barclays moves to sixth place from seventh and Jefferies moves from 23rd place to 13th.