DealZone

DealZone Daily

Prudential shares rise — modestly — after UK newspaper reports that its largest shareholder — Capital Group – is working on a plan to split the group up. The U.S. investor is not happy with Pru’s planned $35.5 billion acquisition of AIA, the Asian life insurer. It is working with Clive Cowdery’s acquisition vehicle Resolution, insurer Aviva and a third, unknown group, the reports say. An unlikely scenario? Perhaps, but it does show some serious discontent among shareholders.

HSBC has denied talk in the market that it may renew its bid for a $3.9 billion stake in Korea Exchange Bank. When asked whether the bank was bidding for LoneStar’s KEB, the bank’s Chief Executive Michael Geoghegan said: “No, we are not”. Right, that’s settled then.

Deutsche lends credibility to its ambitious targets with quarterly earnings that beat forecasts. The earnings benefit from strong results in debt trading — and the absence of markdowns in areas such as leveraged loans. More on investment banking later, when Goldman Sachs appears before the U.S. Senate.

For all other Reuters stories about deals & investment banking, click here. In other media (some links may require subscription rights):

Cemex, the world’s No. 3 cement maker, is considering selling off minority stakes in some of its operations worldwide, in a bid to cut its debt, the Financial Times says.

DealZone Daily

Rather predictably,  the probe into Goldman Sachs overshadowed the group’s first quarter results on Monday. Somewhat less predictably, Goldman’s rivals have been using the furore to elbow in front of the leading Wall Street bank. As an example, rival investment bankers have been lobbying authorities in China to drop Goldman as an underwriter for the more than $20 billion IPO of state-owned Agricultural Bank of China.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) is preparing to bid for Lone Star’s $4bln controlling stake in Korea Exchange Bank, the nation’s sixth largest lender. The news of the arrival of unexpected contender for the U.S. private equity firm’s stake helped send shares in the bank 3 percent higher.

For more Reuters’ deals news, click here.

In other media:

Google is in talks to buy travel software manufacturer ITA Software Inc, Bloomberg reported. A deal could value ITA, whose programs are used by Orbitz Worldwide and Microsoft, as about $1 billion.

Volvo’s Chinese journey

News that Ford expects to finalize the sale of Volvo to China’s Geely in the first half of 2010 caps a year that saw China overtake the United States as the world’s biggest auto market, something that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. With Geely rival BAIC announcing its intention to harvest intellectual property from Saab, Chinese automakers are going into high gear in both their short-term goal of serving the high-octane domestic market and their longer-term ambition of retooling their manufacturing base to better serve the global automotive market.

Geely is China’s largest private automaker. Its charismatic founder, Li Shu Fu, is known as the Chinese Henry Ford. He has shown global ambitions and has pushed for Geely to become a global brand.

It’s a road well traveled, the highway from Asia’s industrial heartlands to the world’s garages. Japan and South Korea have blazed the trail thoroughly. Rather than ponder the significance for lumbering Western automakers who are shedding assets to stay alive, it’s worth wondering what Toyota and Hyundai make of their Chinese cousins.

Coke, eBay activity in Asia

CHINA-ECONOMY/PROPERTYIs it a sign of recovery that cross-Pacific deals are making a comeback? Certainly the mighty dollar makes overseas assets cheap, and foreign governments are probably more willing to create less friction on inflows with investment markets quiet.

In a deal that only a month ago was dead in the water, with a big protectionist steak through the heart, Coca-Cola’s bid to get into the Chinese market appears to be coming back to life. The company is now reported to be holding informal talks with China Huiyuan Juice to weigh partnership options after the $2.4 billion deal — the largest-ever buyout of a Chinese company by a foreign rival – was scuppered.

In South Korea, antitrust officials have cleared the way for eBay to buy Gmarket, its key competitor in the country. The deal, worth up to $1.2 billion, is seen a key driver of growth in the region for eBay. Nasdaq-listed Gmarket is the biggest South Korean operator of customer-to-customer marketplaces and has more than 10 million registered users in the country. When combined, Gmarket and eBay’s South Korean unit will have an 87.5 percent share of the South Korean customer-to-customer market and 36.4 percent of the entire domestic online shopping market.

What goes around…

lehman3.jpgLehman Brothers is looking for fresh capital in South Korea, the Wall Street Journal reports. If the investment bank does end up tapping South Korea, it will have taken slightly over a decade for the 1997 multibillion loan from the IMF, backed by Wall Street and the Federal Reserve, to come full circle. The Journal says Lehman is looking to state-run Korea Development Bank and Woori Financial Group as it searches for funds to ward off a Bear Stearnsian crisis of confidence. The IMF demanded strict economic reforms for its money. A South Korean lender, like the Chinese and Arab investors bailing out Citi and Merrill Lynch, might just want a juicier cut.

The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup — with a side of Smuckers jelly. The maker of Jif peanut butter and Crisco oil said it would buy Folgers from Procter & Gamble for stock valued at $2.95 billion plus the assumption of $350 million in debt. J.M. Smucker & Co also acquired Jif and Crisco from P&G.

Yahoo set its annual shareholder meeting for Aug. 1 in the heart of Silicon Valley, as it braced for a proxy showdown with billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn. Earlier, The Wall Street Journal reported that Icahn would seek to remove Jerry Yang as Yahoo chief executive, citing the company’s failure to reach a merger or partnership deal with Microsoft. Icahn had proposed an alternate slate of directors for Yahoo’s board, but until now had not directly targeted Yang. “It’s no longer a mystery to me why Microsoft’s offer isn’t around,” the Journal quoted Icahn as saying. “How can Yahoo keep saying they’re willing to negotiate and sell the company on the one hand, while at the same time they’re completely sabotaging the process without telling anyone?”