DealZone Daily

Pubs operator Mitchells & Butlers will ask Britain’s takeover watchdog to rule whether rebel shareholders are attempting to gain control of the group after they blocked the appointment of a chairman.

Piedmont, an investment vehicle owned by billionaire Joe Lewis that owns 23 percent of M&B, obstructed the appointment of an independent chairman and vetoed three candidates at the final stage despite being involved in the hiring process from its beginning.

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

Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Corp (BAIC) might still be interested in buying General Motors’ Saab unit, the Chinese car company’s general manager says. “I would just say, ‘stay tuned a little bit’,” he says.

Honiton Energy Group has hired Morgan Stanley to help the China-focused wind power developer lure a new investor, in a deal that could value the entire company at up to $250 million, two people familiar with the details say.

Deutsche Boerse says it will not increase its bid for a controlling stake in the Warsaw Boerse after the Polish government requested an improved offer for the exchange.

DealZone Daily

Motorola is in the early stages of looking into a potential sale of its $4.5 billion television set-top box and network equipment business, two sources tell Reuters. Suitors will include private equity firms and other communications equipment makers, one of the sources says.

In other M&A and capital markets news reported by Reuters and other media on Thursday:

British Airways and Iberia could announce a merger as early as Friday, Sky News reports, citing unidentified sources. Click here for the Reuters story.

DealZone Daily

Japan’s Monex Group will buy the securities unit of Orix Corp for about $246 million in stock, in a deal that will create the country’s second-largest online broker.

By forming a broker with more than $23 billion in client assets they will be able to cut systems and other costs and beef up product and service line-ups, they said.

In other M&A news reported by Reuters and other media:

Speculation about a possible takeover of UK retailer Debenhams was raised after private equity firm TPG sells its 9 percent stake, the FT says.

DealZone Daily

Japanese banks Sumitomo Trust and Chuo Mitsui Trust Holdings are in merger talks, two sources familiar with the matter tell Reuters, bringing together two struggling trust banks to better compete in Japan’s lucrative asset management industry.

Sumitomo Trust, Japan’s fifth-largest bank, this month completed a deal to acquire to acquire Citigroup’s Japanese asset manager Nikko Asset Management for $1.2 billion.

In other M&A news reported by Reuters and other media:

Bank of New York Mellon sees more acquisition opportunities in Europe than in Asia, the head of the world’s largest custodian of financial assets tells Reuters. European financial firms have been harder hit by the global economic crisis than their counterparts in Asia and are refocusing as a result.

DealZone Daily

With just over two months to the end of the year, there is a sense that time is running out for getting deals done in 2009. Many of the long-running deal sagas are coming to a close, or are getting done. Overnight, news emerged that BAA has finally agreed a 1.5 billion pound sale of British airport Gatwick.

Other deal news in the papers on Wednesday include:

* U.S. Bancorp is eyeing FBOP Corp, an owner of eight banks that may be put up for sale by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC), the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the situation.

* National Express’s largest shareholder, Spain’s Jorge Cosmen, supports a merger proposal by British bus and rail operator Stagecoach, the Financial Times reported.

DealZone Daily

The end of the year looks set to be full of news of rights issues and IPOs as share investors are offered a bet on next year’s economic recovery.

The travails of UK transport firm National Express fill many of Tuesday’s business pages, with rivals First Group and Stagecoach both in the frame for a bid, while the debt-laden company finalises plans for a rights issue. For other Reuters stories on deals, click here.

Other stories in Tuesday’s newspapers include:

- Private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management is in advanced preparations to take rifle and ammunition maker Freedom Group Inc public, the Wall Street Journal reports.

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

The following deal-related stories appeared in today’s newspapers:

* British private equity firm Silverfleet Capital has begun exclusive talks to buy German sausage maker Kalle Nalo from rival Montagu Private Equity, the Financial Times said.

* The world’s biggest mutual funds firm, Fidelity Investments, has sought potential candidates to succeed its president Rodger Lawson who rejoined the company in mid-2007, The Wall Street Journal reported.

* Four of the biggest names in the UK digital media scene are teaming up to launch an investment fund for internet start-ups, the Financial Times reported. Michael Birch, co-founder of Bebo, the social network acquired by AOL last year for $850 million, is the cornerstone investor. He is joined by Brent Hoberman, Peter Dubens and Jonathan Goodwin.

Deals du Jour

TMT is heating up. Vodafone, the British mobile phone operator, is pondering a bid for T-Mobile UK, while Microsoft has hired Morgan Stanley to sell its digital agency Razorfish. Both stories are in the Financial Times. Private equity group Candover says it has ended talks with potential acquirers, confident it can meet debt covenants. For all Reuters Deals news, click here.

And here’s what other media are writing today.

* Anglo American (AAL.L) is building its defences against a 41 billion pound ($67.74 billion) merger approach from Xstrata (XTA.L) by plotting talks about a major Chinese investment, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

* Switzerland’s UBS (UBSN.VX) is to pay 3 to 5 billion Swiss francs ($2.77-$4.62 billion) in the next two weeks to settle a U.S. tax probe into the bank, Swiss newspaper Sonntag reported on Sunday.