DealZone

M&A wrap: Total merges solar units

U.S. solar panel maker SunPower, a unit of French oil major Total, said it had agreed to buy Total-owned Tenesol for $165.4 million in cash in an expected deal that will regroup the French group’s solar business under one umbrella. Total announced the $1.3 billion takeover of SunPower in June.

Concurrently with the closing of the acquisition, Total has agreed to purchase 18.6 million shares of SunPower common stock in a private placement at $8.80 per share, a 50 percent premium to SunPower’s Dec 22 closing price. After the sale of Tenesol, Total will own about 66 percent of SunPower shares.

Deutsche Boerse won U.S. antitrust approval to buy NYSE Euronext in a $9 billion deal to create the world’s No. 1 exchange operator, but the transaction still faces serious regulatory headwinds in Europe. In Europe, there have been weeks of negotiations with antitrust regulators, in which staff made clear their reservations about approving a combination of Deutsche Boerse’s Eurex and NYSE Euronext’s Liffe on concerns that the merged entity would have a monopoly over European listed derivatives trading. A formal decision by the European Commission is not expected until January or early February.

ConvergEx Group, a software provider for brokerage and investment technology firms, said it terminated its merger agreement with private equity firm CVC Capital, partly because of probes by U.S. regulators. CVC Capital was looking to buy ConvergEx, which is partly owned by Bank of New York Mellon (BK.N), for $1.9 billion, Bloomberg had reported in July.

China Three Gorges Corp’s $3.5 billion acquisition of the Portuguese government’s stake in utility EDP highlights China’s appetite for physical assets in troubled economies and its ability to make its bids attractive with the promise of financial support. China is looking to pick up assets such as infrastructure and utilities in places like Europe at a bargain, rather than only buying the bonds of countries facing economic difficulties.

M&A wrap: EU crisis hits bank advisory fees

Europe’s debt woes dragged worldwide investment banking income down this year, data showed, with fees on the continent slumping to the lowest quarterly level ever recorded and company listings and acquisitions grinding to a near halt. In Europe, fees raised since October from bonds, flotations and mergers and acquisitions stand at the lowest quarterly level ever recorded by the data providers. A stronger start to the year in areas such as mergers and acquisitions fizzled out, leaving investment banks’ overall haul of fees at $72.6 billion — down 8 percent on 2010.

Yahoo is considering a plan to unload most of its prized Asian assets in a complex deal valued at roughly $17 billion, sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday, winning nods of approval from Wall Street and driving its shares higher. The offer – the latest among proposals put forth in recent months to resuscitate the once high-flying Internet company – is expected to be considered by Yahoo’s board on Thursday, sources said. The board was uninterested in entertaining offers for the entire company at this point, said one of the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Oshkosh Corp has sent a proxy card to shareholders recommending they ignore an effort by billionaire investor Carl Icahn to install his own board members as he pushes for a merger with one of the company’s key rivals. Icahn recently nominated six associates to be on the board of the Wisconsin maker of trucks, construction lifts and defense vehicles. In a letter to the company’s shareholders last week asking for support for his nominations, he also voiced strong support of a merger between Oshkosh and Navistar International Corp. Icahn owns nearly 10 percent stakes in both companies.

Deals wrap: LinkedIn boosts IPO, pushes more air into bubble

LinkedIn, the social networking site for professionals, boosted the pricing of its initial public offering by 30 percent valuing the 9-year old company at a little over $4 billion, or about 17 times their 2010 revenue.

LinkedIn’s IPO, which is scheduled for Thursday, comes on the heels of what appears to be an unsuccessful offering Renren.

Earlier this month Renren, one of the biggest social networking sites in China, stock surged 29 percent in their debut but it has since dropped to below its IPO price.

Deals wrap: Nasdaq, ICE drop NYSE bid

Nasdaq OMX and IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) dropped their $11.1 billion bid for rival exchange NYSE Euronext after it became clear the deal would not gain approval from U.S. antitrust regulators. The companies first offered to buy the New York Stock Exchange parent on April 1, aiming to curb a proposed friendly merger with Deutsche Boerse that was worth $10.2 billion when first announced in February. Deutsche Boerse responded to the news of the dropped bid by saying it plans to continue to pursue a merger with the Big Board parent.

In other exchange merger news, a consortium of Canadian banks and pension funds launched a $3.7 billion bid for TMX Group in the hopes of keeping Canada’s largest stock exchange from falling under foreign ownership. The bid tops a $3 billion offer for the exchange operator from the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The LSE said it remains committed to its own merger proposal with the TMX despite the higher rival offer, but should its bid fail it could find itself to be a takeover target, analysts said.

U.S. chemicals group DuPont won its takeover battle for Danish food ingredients company Danisco. The $6.4 billion acquisition is a part of DuPont’s push into the food technology business that CEO Ellen Kullman says will “create an industry leader in industrial biosciences and nutrition and health.”

Deals wrap: Poised to go hostile

Nasdaq OMX and IntercontinentalExchange are poised to go hostile in their bid for NYSE Euronext after shareholders ratcheted up pressure on the Big Board parent to get a better deal.

Hong Kong’s first yuan-denominated IPO plunged as much as 11 percent on its Friday debut as investors turned their noses up at the low yields offered by billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Hui Xian real estate investment trust.

Berkshire Hathaway shareholders are descending on Omaha for the conglomerate’s annual meeting, but there appears to be only one topic of conversation in town — Berkshire’s extraordinary claims about former Buffett lieutenant David Sokol. The New York Times looks for Warren Buffett’s next deal.

Deals wrap: Dealmakers play it safe

USA/Bankers taking part in the Reuters Global M&A Summit this week told correspondents Quentin Webb and Victoria Howley that despite a recent pickup in global dealmaking, economic fragility, natural disaster and political tumult in the Middle East are hurting corporate confidence and holding back a more robust M&A recovery.

“A new guard of private equity bosses has emerged at the top of the industry, striving to make their business more open before investors and policy makers, and alter preconceptions of this at times secretive industry,” writes Reuters private equity reporter Simon Meads.

Pfizer said it struck a deal to sell its Capsugel unit, the world’s largest maker of hard capsules, to private equity firm KKR & Co for nearly $2.38 billion.

Deals wrap: Nasdaq triumphant?

Trading specialists glance at each other as they prepare to leave the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, March 26, 2009.  REUTERS/Chip East Nasdaq OMX and IntercontinentalExchange unveiled a rival bid to buy NYSE Euronext for about $11.3 billion in cash and stock, a 19 percent premium to the offer made by German competitor Deutsche Boerse. The move could raise new antitrust questions as it would combine the two largest U.S. stock exchanges. The new offer is valued at $42.50 per share, Nasdaq and IntercontinentalExchange said. The offer represents a 19 percent premium to NYSE’s closing price on Thursday and is 27 percent above the company’s valuation before Deutsche Boerse’s $10.2 billion bid in February. Analysts were skeptical about whether Deutsche Boerse would launch a counterbid.

Citigroup might be uncomfortable sitting on information needed to determine whether the onetime successor to Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett violated securities laws when he personally traded in shares of Lubrizol, which Berkshire acquired for $9 billion, but it doesn’t have to be damaging territory for Citi, writes Rob Cox.

No.1 concert promoter and ticketing company Live Nation Entertainment is in the running to buy the recorded music assets of Warner Music Group, the world’s third largest music company, according to a person familiar with the talks. Bids have come in valuing Warner Music Group at around $3 billion on an enterprise value basis, which includes both debt and equity.

NYSE on plunge; “It’s like airport security”

In Washington this week, Larry Leibowitz, the frank-talking chief operating officer at the NYSE’s parent company, offered up perhaps the most succinct explanation of what went wrong in the jarring May 6 market plunge. He offered it to a subcommittee of senators growing testy as the weeks tick by without anyone pinpointing what exactly caused the crash, so it may have drifted over a few heads. Just in case, here it is:

“While it would be comforting to know what the triggering cause of this was, I think it’s largely irrelevant. It’s like airport security — we all take our shoes off because someone happened to put a bomb in his shoes. We all wondered what would happen if someone put it in his pants. Then they did,” Leibowitz said, arguing that solutions, such as new stock-market circuit breakers in the works, should instead be the focus.

“We have to look at the factors that make up our market structure, which actually functioned very well on a normal day, but during times of stress sometimes doesn’t. What we have is a loosely coupled, fragmented market that’s very deep at the top of the book, but when the market moves through the top of that book very quickly, it’s not nearly as efficient as it was in the past.”

from Summit Notebook:

Jon Stewart’s brother says mom ‘pretty happy with both’

EXCHANGES-SUMMIT/A bit grayer and world wearier, maybe, but there's no mistaking the family resemblance between NYSE Chief Operating Office Larry Leibowitz and his kid brother Jon Stewart. Unlike the Daily Show host, Leibowitz mostly keeps a low profile, although he did find himself in the spotlight even before his appearance at the Reuters Global Exchanges and Trading Summit on Monday. The Wall Street Journal interviewed him in a story about the NYSE's effort to turn some high frequency traders -- who have been chipping away at the exchange's business -- into exchange floor traders.

Leibowitz may be sick of the Jon Stewart questions, but when pesky Reuters editors and journalists  inevitably raised them, he answered them with relatively good humor.  

"I know my mother's pretty happy with both," the NYSE's resident electronic trading expert said when asked whether it was tough living in the shadow of the celebrated news comedian. Leibowitz allowed that it was hard to imagine two brothers who had chosen more different careers. At this point, they even have different last names, after Leibowitz's younger brother adopted a stage name.

After listing, General Growth attracts more interest

Fairholme Capital Management and Pershing Square, two key investors in General Growth Properties, have offered to invest another $3.93 billion in the mall operator to help it emerge from bankruptcy. Shareholders, who only had access to the stock again on the NYSE as of last Friday, bid the stock more than 4 percent higher in early Tuesday trade.

While the new offer does not knock out the one from GGP rival Simon Property Group, it could get more support among unsecured creditors who would have had to settle for cash and stock under GGP’s original proposal.

The latest deal builds on one from Brookfield Asset Management but now allows General Growth to remain an independent company instead of selling itself to Simon, its largest competitor.