Companies may look cheap in the newly minted bear market, but Dow Chemical isn’t taking any chances with Rohm and Haas. The $18.8 billion deal at $78 per share is a 74 percent premium to the paint specialist’s closing price of $44.83 on Wednesday. If the deal wasn’t rich enough, buy-in from Omaha oracle Warren Buffett and sovereign wealth fund the Kuwait Investment Authority, in the form of convertible preferred securities for $3 billion and $1 billion, respectively, should drown out any naysayers, though it’s tough to imagine who could challenge the deal. CEO Andrew Liveris is keen to move Dow away from basic chemicals and towards higher margin specialty chemicals. Dow said the deal would be “meaningfully accretive” to earnings in the second year after it closes, with pre-tax synergies expected to be at least $800 million per year.
Novartis plans to buy its research partner, Swiss biotech company Speedel, for about $880 million to speed up development of potential blockbuster blood-pressure drug Tekturna. Speedel shares surged more than 90 percent to the offer price after the latest in a string of big pharma acquisitions of promising start-up drug development companies. Cash-rich major drugmakers have been queuing up to invest in medicines to fill their thinning pipelines — and the biotech sector has been hit by the global downturn in equity markets, fuelling takeover speculation. Shares in Novartis, which is keen to shore up its franchise in treating high blood pressure as its top-selling Diovan faces generic competition when it loses exclusivity in 2012, fell slightly as markets viewed the buy as expensive.
Other deals of the day:
* Canada’s Precision Drilling Trust said it will immediately reapproach U.S. oil driller Grey Wolf with its $10-a-share takeover offer if Grey Wolf’s shareholders vote down a proposed merger with Basic Energy Services.