Deals du Jour

The auto industry shake up looks set to accelerate.

Germany’s Volkswagen is exploring a deal to cooperate with Japan’s Suzuki Motor to boost its presence in ultra-small cars, a source tells Reuters. The news sent Suzuki sahres racing to a 10-month high.

Cooperation with Suzuki, which dominates Japan’s 660cc minivehicle market along with Toyota’s Daihatsu, could yield a new model for VV below its upcoming “New Small Family” range of small cars, the source said.

Deal news reported by other media on Friday included:

Four savings banks in Spain’s Catalonia region are in advanced talks to create what would be the country’s eighth-largest savings bank, La Vanguardia newspaper reported. Unlisted savings banks Sabadell, Terrassa and Manlleu are discussing a merger which Caixa Manresa could also join, it said. For the Reuters strory click here.

Norway’s Telenor is close to an agreement with its Russian partner, the Alfa Group, to merge their Russian and Ukrainian mobile telecoms businesses, Vimpelcom and Kyivstar, Vedomosti newspaper said. For the Reuters story click here.

Miner BHP Billiton is looking to sell its Yabulu and Ravensthorpe nickel operations in Australia as a package, the Australian Financial Review reported.

Deals du Jour

Japanese banks Aozora and Shinsei, both loss-making lenders backed by U.S. investors, are in talks to merge to create Japan’s sixth-largest bank.

A deal would give Aozora access to Shinsei’s retail deposits to ease its funding needs and could provide Shinsei with a much-needed boost to capital.

It could also signal that banks around the world will seek deals as they emerge from the financial crisis.

Deals du Jour

Trading giant Glencore is the front-runner to buy a 51 percent stake in Chemoil Energy from the family of the founder Robert Chandran, sources told Reuters. The stake in the marine fuel supplier could be worth about $240 million.

Other deals reported by Reuters and other media on Wednesday include:

CITIC 1616 Holdings is seeking to buy international direct dialing and mobile value-added service assets in the Asia Pacific region by the end of 2009, a senior executive told Reuters.

European Union antitrust regulators approved German utility RWE’s 8.2 billion euro ($11.4 billion) takeover of Dutch peer Essent on the condition that it sell Essent’s controlling stake in a German unit.

Deals du Jour

British bank Barclays said it would sell its BGI investment arm to U.S. firm BlackRock for $13.5 billion, creating the world’s biggest asset manager. For today’s headlines, click here.

And in the media:

* Malaysian gaming group Genting is in partnership talks with U.S. casino operator MGM Mirage, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

* British boiler maker Baxi is close to agreeing a 1.7 billion euros ($2.4 billion) merger with smaller Dutch rival De Dietrich Remeha Group, the Financial Times reported. 

Deals du Jour

Porsche is in talks to sell a stake of up to 25 percent in its holding company to the Gulf state of Qatar and a deal could be announced within weeks, people familiar with the talks told the Financial Times. For more of today’s deals headlines on Reuters, click here.

And more in the newspapers:

* German state-controlled bank WestLB was close to being shut down over the weekend , the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the situation.

Owners of the struggling bank agreed to provide an additional 4 billion euros ($5.6 billion) in guarantees to help support a sweeping reorganisation, WestLB said late on Sunday.

Deals du Jour

With Germany due to decide which bidder — or bidders — it prefers as a partner for Opel, it’s a big day for carmakers. And the sale of RBS’s Asia assets is moving closer as well, with ANZ bank raising money for the purchase, and sources telling Reuters that HSBC has pulled out of the race. For top deals of the day, click here.

From the newspapers:

* A unit of the Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC), China’s huge state-owned aircraft maker, plans to list abroad in the near future, the official China Securities Journal said, citing AVIC President Lin Zuoming.

* Citigroup Inc and Bank of America Corp are likely to soon raise base salaries for investment bankers to compensate for limits on annual bonuses, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter. Read Reuters story here.

Gone Shopping

As Steve Slater and I wrote earlier:

“British bank Barclays has sidelined private equity houses bidding for iShares, its exchange-traded fund unit, and is looking to sell its entire asset management arm instead if offers approach $12 billion.

“U.S. money manager BlackRock and Bank of New York Mellon are among the interested bidders for Barclays Global Investors (BGI), the world’s biggest asset manager, people familiar with the matter said.”

Looking to boost its capital position and to justify its decision not to take state aid, Barclays is aiming to maximize the proceeds from any asset sales.

Deals du jour

Top deals news today includes LSE boss mulling new acquisitions, BC Partners downing tools on a BGI bid and Fiat signing a big Chinese joint venture. All the latest deals news here.

In the morning papers:

The new chief executive of London Stock Exchange Xavier Rolet has told La Tribune newspaper that he is ready to look at acquisitions and alliances but is not treating them as a priority. Reuters story here.

Borders UK, the bookshop chain owned by private equity firm Risk Capital Partners, has appointed restructuring experts RSM Bentley Jennison to advise on closing underperforming stores, The Independent reported.

BarCap bulks up in European M&A

Signs are displayed on the former Lehman Brothers, now Barclays Capital building in Times Square in New York

Barclays Capital has hired a senior Citigroup banker and a former top Morgan Stanley banker as co-heads of European mergers and acquisitions (M&A), as the former debt powerhouse repositions itself as a full-service, global investment bank.

The duo are Matthew Ponsonby, formerly Citigroup’sglobal co-head of infrastructure investment banking, and Mark Warham, who until earlier this year had been chairman of UK investment banking at Morgan Stanley.

BarCap, like SocGen and others, sees a chance to grab market share in M&A and other advisory work. Granted, European M&A volumes are less than a third of 2007′s — but some competitors are weakened and some bankers are restless (if not actually unemployed).

Deals du jour

Top deals news today includes Fiat boss’s confidence about an Opel takeover, Regions Financial planning a $1.25 billion stock offer, Aussie Rio shareholders seeking a new Chinalco deal and Novartis buying cancer drugs unit. All the latest deals news here.

In the morning papers:

Fiat SpA has more than a 50 percent chance of successfully linking up with Opel, La Stampa said, citing chief executive Sergio Marchionne. Reuters story here.

British pub company Mitchells & Butlers is in talks with banks over a possible rights issue, the Financial Times reported.