DealZone

DealZone Daily

Auto maker General Motors is grappling with the future of its European units Saab and Opel after one sale collapsed and the other was pulled, targeting the bulk of its 9,000 job cuts at Opel’s German factories.

Bookseller Borders UK called in the administrators yesterday, adding its name to a growing list of failed British high street retailers. Administrator MCR is hoping to sell the business, bought by Valco (the private equity arm of turnaround specialist Hilco) in July this year, as a going concern.

Lachlan Murdoch, son of News Corp chief executive Rupert Murdoch, sold some $27.6 million of his shares in his father’s company as he bought 50 percent of Daily Mail & General Trust’s radio operations in Australia.

For the latest deals news from Reuters, click here.

And here’s the top stories from elsewhere (some external links may require subscription):

Concerns over Dubai World’s debt dominated the news as stocks around the world tumbled and markets struggled to get to grips with the extent of the problem in the absence of solid information, says the Financial Times.

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.

from MediaFile:

Could Google buy Twitter? Ask Arrington, then ask Swisher

******We sprinkled updates into this blog. We're highlighting them like this.******Thanks to TechCrunch, U.S. tech reporters are about to spend another weekend working instead of playing. UPDATE: Or maybe Kara Swisher at All Things D will save them!******Two sources told proprietor Michael Arrington that Google "is in late stage negotiations to acquire Twitter." He wrote:***

We don't know the price but can assume its well, well north of the $250 million valuation that they saw in their recent funding.

***

Twitter turned down an offer to be bought by Facebook just a few months ago for half a billion dollars, although that was based partially on overvalued Facebook stock. Google would be paying in cash and/or publicly valued stock, which is equivalent to cash. So whatever the final acquisition value might be, it can't be compared apples-to-apples with the Facebook deal.

***

Why would Google want Twitter? We've been arguing for some time that Twitter's real value is in search. It holds the keys to the best real time database and search engine on the Internet, and Google doesn't even have a horse in the game.

from MediaFile:

Newspapers: These are a few of my favorite playthings

The story of rich billionaires buying troubled newspapers is one that has been told before, but never with headlines that practically nod and wink at you like this one from the Financial Times: Playthings for rich men could be unsafe toys

Tell us about it!

The story by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson explores the ups and downs of selling troubled, publicly traded newspaper companies to impossibly rich buyers. As he says, would-be press barons might find to their dismay that the old business model is dying. That means taking over a paper could be a reputation killer, not an enhancer.

The most interesting but sad item in the story is this tidbit:

The $5.6bn Rupert Murdoch's News Corp paid in 2007 for Dow Jones, owner of the Wall Street Journal and several local papers, would now be sufficient to buy Gannett, the New York Times, McClatchy, Media General, Belo and Lee Enterprises, even at twice their current share prices.

NYSE vs Nasdaq new listings battle in 08: call it a draw

duel2You win some, you lose some.

The IPO gods doled out more misery than joy in 2008 to both two major U.S. stock exchanges, the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq, with only 29 new companies to fight over in their ongoing battle for listings. That compared with 202 listings in 2007.

NYSE won 13 of those IPOs, including the largest IPO ever, the $17.9 billion issue by credit-card issuer Visa in March, and a $1.4 billion IPO by American Water Works. That fueled its share of IPO proceeds for the year to $24.7 billion, or 94 percent of the total for the year, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Nasdaq’s largest deal, the $500 million IPO by solar equipment company GT Solar, tanked on arrival, finishing the year 83 percent down off its offer price.

Ego Masochist

“People who know me know I don’t have an ego about remaining independent versus not remaining independent,” Yahoo chief Jerry Yang told the Web 2.0 Summit. That’s a good thing because rejection is starting to become a refrain for the Internet company. 
 
Yang must be pumped by Yahoo’s share price, which surged after a rumor posted on a blog said the company was in advanced talks to sell itself to Microsoft for $17 to $19 a share. But the blog also reported that Yang would step down as CEO. Yahoo officials later said the report was untrue, but before the open this morning Yahoo shares were still climbing.
 
Google ditched a search advertising partnership with Yahoo this week. News Corp said on its earnings call yesterday that talked-about talks with Yahoo were not happening. Microsoft walked away from a deal to buy the company in May. Yang declined to comment on Yahoo’s discussions with Time Warner about buying AOL. Failure of that deal could at least give him a chance to jilt somebody, for a change.
    
Yang says he is still open to selling to Microsoft at the right price. The question is whether the price will be as resilient as his ego.  
 
Deals of the day:
 
* Malaysia’s CIMB Bank will make an offer to buy in the market the 57.87 percent of Thai lender BankThai that it does not already own and the price is expected to be 2.10 baht per share, BankThai said.
 
* Vodafone, the world’s biggest mobile phone group by revenue, has succeeded in its bid to take control of South Africa’s biggest mobile phone operator, Vodacom Group. 
 
* Kuwait’s Mobile Telecommunications said it planned to make four to five acquisitions worth up to $4 billion before 2010 after a global credit crisis depressed asset prices for telecom firms. 
 
* North American brewer Molson Coors Brewing has emerged as holder of a 5 percent stake in Australian brewer Foster’s Group, giving it a seat at the bar amid persistent takeover talk. 
 
* Swiss bank UBS bought a minority stake in Governance Metrics International, a research advisory company specializing in corporate governance. 
 
* Russian oil major LUKOIL and Italian refiner ERG will finalize a 1.35 billion euro ($1.74 billion) deal allowing LUKOIL to break into the western European refining business, industry sources told Reuters. 
 
* British property developer and investment company Westcity said it was pulling out of the Kenny Heights mixed residential and retail development project in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 
 
* Property investment and development company Town Centre Securities said it sold its 50 percent interest in a joint venture to its partner, Q-Park Ltd, for 8.7 million pounds ($13.80 million) in cash. 
 
* Dublin-based Changingworlds, a mobile phone services firm that counts Vodafone and Sprint among its customers, said it had been bought by New York-listed Amdocs for $60 million. 
 
* Susanne Klatten, Germany’s richest woman, offered to buy the rest of Altana in a deal worth 910 million euros ($1.17 billion) as the specialty chemicals maker dampened its 2008 outlook.

More Microhooey?

People walk past Yahoo! offices in Santa MonicaThe Wall Street Journal leads with a piece saying Microsoft is preparing a new bid for Yahoo‘s search business that could bring on board media giants Time Warner and News Corp and effectively lead to Yahoo’s breakup. The talks are preliminary and unlikely to result in a deal with Yahoo, the paper said, and although it all seems whimsical, Yahoo shares jumped more than 6 percent in early trade. Yahoo rejected a $47.5 billion takeover offer by Microsoft, and earlier this week questioned whether the software maker was ever serious about a full-scale merger. Carl Icahn, who is running a slate of directors to replace Yahoo’s board and has called for the removal of Chief Executive Jerry Yang, has met with Microsoft, which is encouraging him to press his proxy contest as a way to keep pressure on Yahoo to enter into a deal that would lift its share price, the paper said, citing people familiar with the matter.

British events organizer and publisher Informa said it was considering a 2.15 billion pound ($4.3 billion) bid approach from a consortium of private equity firms, sending its shares 10 percent higher. Informa said in a statement that Providence Equity, The Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friedman had made a bid proposal of 506 pence a share on June 26. “Discussions continue to be at an early stage and there can be no certainty that an offer will be made,” it said. When news emerged last month that the equity firms were working on a bid for the media company, the shares showed only modest gains as analysts questioned whether a deal would succeed in the current tight credit markets.

The markets took down another deal yesterday. Blaming grim market conditions Blockbuster abandoned its $1.3 billion offer to buy electronics retailer Circuit City. Shares of the video rental chain jumped more than 7 percent in extended trade after the news while Circuit City’s shares fell 1.6 percent, after declining nearly 12 percent at Tuesday’s close — hitting their lowest point in two decades. Speculation that a potential deal with Blockbuster would not happen gained ground after Circuit City posted a wider quarterly loss and cut its dividend in June.

News Corp, Breakingviews, and the FT

rtrdc25_comp.jpgReuters’ Robert MacMillan was the first to report that the Wall Street Journal plans to drop a daily opinion column from Breakingviews.com, the financial commentary and news service founded by financial journalist Hugo Dixon. But as Portfolio’s Felix Salmon notes, the move may have a lot to do with the Financial Times.

With all of the coverage about Murdoch’s desire to use the Journal to take on the New York Times, it’s easy to forget that News Corp’s acquisition also puts the FT squarely in its sights. Salmon posits that Journal editor Robert Thomson is preparing a direct assault on the FT’s lucrative Lex column, which the pink-hued paper considers to be such a draw that it charges a hefty premium for access.

On the same day that Breakingviews was dropped, the Journal also poached Thorold Barker and Liam Denning from Lex. Their likely destination: The Journal’s rival “Heard on the Street” column, which unlike Lex is free online.