DealZone

Keeping score: Withdrawn M&A and private equity buyouts

Highlights from the Thomson Reuters Investment Banking Scorecard:

Corporate M&A loses out …

Xstrata abandoned its $42.5 billon merger with Anglo American on Oct. 15, making it the largest withdrawn transaction this year. Withdrawn M&A has reached $205 billon so far in 2009.

The banks advising both parties would have earned an estimated $150.7 millon if the transaction had gone through. Deutsche, Lazard and UBS each lose a place in the global M&A rankings, falling to sixth, eighth and ninth, respectively, due to the failure. In Europe, Goldman Sachs loses the top spot, falling to third, while Normura drops out of the top 25 from 12th spot.

Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse take first and second position in the year to date European rankings.

… but private equity scores a hit:

CVC Capital Partners agreed to acquire the Central European operations of Anheuser-Busch Inbev for $3 billion, in a leveraged buyout transaction on Oct. 15.

This is the second largest European private equity backed M&A deal year-to-date, bringing the total value of private equity activity to $23 billion so far this year.

Where’s the bull? Blackstone’s IPO plans

Time to reap some green shoots? Private equity firm Blackstone plans to list up to eight of its portfolio companies, aiming to make more hay from improved stock markets. Rival Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co’s Dollar General filed for an initial public offering of up to $750 million in August, and KKR is considering others, sources previously told Reuters.

Blackstone is positioning one company — hospital staffing firm Team Health — for an IPO and evaluating the potential for seven others, a source tells us, citing a letter sent from Blackstone to investors. The letter also says Blackstone is in the process of selling five companies outright, which it sees generating aggregate proceeds of $2.8 billion.

One of the exits is Kosmos Energy’s Ghanaian oil interests, the source who has the letter said. Sources previously told Reuters that Exxon Mobil had agreed to buy Kosmos Energy’s stake in the Jubilee field. Kosmos is backed by Blackstone and Warburg Pincus.

PE deals indicate lending thaw

NORWAY/Two very different deals announced Wednesday show that financing markets are starting to support larger private equity transactions again.

Still, large numbers of banks were involved in each deal and both involved a significant amount of the private equity firms’ own equity.

“It suggests there’s a little bit of thawing,” said Steven Kaplan, a professor of finance at the University of Chicago. “It suggests there will be a normal world at some point and they are both the kind of deals you’d expect to see in this environment — you don’t expect public-to-publics in this market.”

The Playgrounds of Private Equity

Blackstone Group’s plan to buy Anheuser-Busch InBev’s U.S. theme parks for up to $2.7 billion may turn out to be a brilliant expansion into the recession-squelched entertainment industry. But it could also prove to be a roller coaster in terms of value if Americans don’t rediscover fun as part of the economic recovery.

For its part, AB InBev at least has a product that can sell equally well when people are depressed. The deal helps to satisfy its goal of raising $7 billion from divestments.

The theme park deal is one of the largest private equity transactions this year. It will add Busch Entertainment Corp’s 10 parks — including three SeaWorlds and two Busch Gardens — to Blackstone’s existing fun stable housing Madame Tussauds wax museums, Legoland and the London Eye Ferris wheel. mumblings about anti-trust issues, the private equity entertainment empire is active in a buyers market. Some say NBC Universal’s theme park could soon wind up on the block if GE sells content assets to Comcast.

World’s financial center is moving, Carlyle co-founder says

USA/The financial crisis has made the world less focused on the U.S., which will have to face up to the fact that it is not as significant as before, Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein told a large audience at the World Business Forum in New York:

“After World War II we were 48 percent of the world’s GDP; now we are about 20 percent of the world’s GDP… We have to get used to the fact that the dollar is relatively cheap and … that the dollar is probably not going to be the reserve currency that it’s been for so many years.”

Rubenstein said the center of the financial world won’t just be New York, but spread between here, London, Shanghai, Dubai, Sao Paulo and a few other cities.

Diamonds in the rough

Diamond pictureSomewhere out there are ailing companies in need of a turnaround specialist. These experts — also known as company doctors — parachute into troubled businesses to turn their business around.

Funds, such as Oaktree Capital, HIG Capital and Apollo Management, specialise in buying up companies in distress (either through buying equity or debt) and turning them round.

And this should be a great time for these investors — banks are loaded with stakes in troubled companies and unwieldy corporates may want to spin off unwanted businesses.

Deals du Jour

French food group Danone has agreed to sell its 51 percent stake in its joint ventures with China’s Wahaha group, putting an end to legal proceedings related to the disputes between the two. In 2007, Danone accused Wahaha of illegally setting up parallel business outside their ventures. 

McGraw-Hill Cos is leaning toward selling its money-losing BusinessWeek magazine to Bloomberg LP, a person familiar with the matter tells Reuters. Bloomberg Markets, a financial news magazine that produces feature stories, and the 80-year-old BusinessWeek could be blended to make a title that would expand Bloomberg’s presence beyond its financial data clients and reach a mainstream audience.

For more on these stories and the rest of the latest deals news from Reuters, click here .

Xerox-ACS: the backstory

Xerox, which said early Monday morning it will buy Affiliated Computer Services for $6.4 billion, has had its eye on the IT services company for at least two years, but talks only began toward the end of the first quarter of 2009, several people familiar with the matter told Dealzone. Blackstone, which advised Xerox, worked with the company on this over the past 18 months, in addition to making the introductions earlier this year, according to one source.

Talks grew hot and heavy over the summer, especially as the credit market conditions improved, a second source said. Xerox has committed financing of $3 billion for this deal, which is being arranged by JPMorgan, so the deal only began to look like a real possibility once the financing side was sorted out.

ACS, which competes with other technology services providers such as Computer Sciences Corp and Accenture, is an attractive company because of its recurring revenue business model. It’s been an especially alluring target for private equity buyers, with Cerberus having offered to buy it for $62 a share in 2007. Cerberus withdrew its offer citing the credit crunch and ACS management’s refusal to engage with them. TPG was also interested in ACS about five years ago, the second source added.

from Commentaries:

Moulton’s parting shot at Alchemy

Jon Moulton Reuters file photoReal Business is running a copy of what it says is Jon Moulton's resignation letter from Alchemy.

It is full of wonderful nuggets about the private equity boutique he set up in 1997 and gives insight into a wider malaise in financial services.  Moulton is not saying if the letter -- which is addressed to investors -- is authentic.

The letter's parting words capture the tone: "I would do it again - but better".

(Photo: Reuters file photo)

U.S. M&A hits 15 year low

This year’s annual August doldrums was one for the record books.

U.S. M&A for the month totalled $13 billion, its lowest since February 1994, while global M&A stood at $72 billion, the lowest since February 2003, according to data from Thomson Reuters.

The largest U.S. deal was Warner Chilcott’s $3.1 billion purchase of Procter & Gamble’s prescription drug business.

Year-to-date, however, European M&A has suffered even more, with total deal value halving to $378.4 billion. U.S. mergers, at $441.5 billion, have fallen 40 percent from a year ago. Fees for completed in August sank to $694 million, the lowest since records started in 1998, according to Thomson Reuters.