Deals du Jour


Details emerge of the Swiss government’s disposal of 9 percent stake in UBS. Traders snapped up the 332 million shares at the top end of the expected price range in a heavily oversubscribed sale, a source told us. 

Talks over a complicated merger between telecommunications firms MTN and Bharti Airtel are extended for a second time until the end of September. As uncertainty over a successful completion drags on one shareholder we talked to said the extension showed that the deal may be too complex.

For the latest Reuters stories on M&A and investment banking, click here.

For a round-up of other stories featured in the media today take a look at our market chatter.

UBS’ Tax Break

UBS shares are on the rise after news of a deal in principle to end U.S. government tax litigation against the Swiss wealth management giant. This probably involves the bank handing over the names of 5,000 U.S. clients holding secret Swiss accounts, or 10 percent of the names Washington was after. The best news for investors right now is there is no fine involved.

Hardly the end of uncertainty the market would normally crave. While the deal will not formally violate Swiss bank secrecy rules, it’s hardly going to end pressure on Switzerland and UBS — and the entire offshore financial world — to stop shielding the wealthy from paying their dues.

For now, the ebbing threat of a fine, removing the risk of more capital-raising by UBS, is being welcomed. Now, all the bank needs is a business model built on better citizenship. Perhaps they can manage something dramatic before they report quarterly results tomorrow. UBS is expected to post a second-quarter net loss of 1.1 billion Swiss francs ($1 billion). It lost billions of business from wealthy clients after it handed over about 250 names in February to settle a separate U.S. criminal probe.

Is Genentech taking over Roche?

Roche’s megabucks Genentech buy is looking more like a reverse takeover — in some ways, at least.

Roche headquartersThe Swiss drugmaker splashed out $47 billion to buy out its biotech partner to secure access to Genentech’s impressive new drugs. But Roche’s U.S. operations are to operate under the Genentech name and research, development and commercial operations are all being based at the U.S. group’s South San Francisco headquarters.

Now Roche doesn’t even consider itself Big Pharma. It says it will leave the industry group Pharmaceuticals Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) but will retain Genentech’s membership of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

Investors long for UBS happy end

Die-hard UBS investors who have stayed with the bank through thick and thin are hoping new boss Oswald Gruebel (sitting) will return the Swiss icon to its former splendour thanks to a bitter medicine of thousands of new layoffs and heavy cost cuts announced on Wednesday.

But their patience is running out.

ubs“The only reason why we are still with UBS is because hope dies last. But if this carries on, we will not tolerate it anymore,” said Blandina Heyne, a UBS investor for seven years, as she and her husband came to attend the bank’s annual general meeting in Zurich.

Both clients and shareholders have turned their back to Switzerland’s largest bank after the crisis forced UBS to post the biggest loss in Swiss corporate history and shares plummeted to historic lows.

UBS dodges bigger bullet in tax pact

SWITZERLANDEmbattled Swiss bank UBS struck a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Justice Department that will cost them $780 million. It could have been worse.

Though paying a hefty fine, the Swiss bank is paying ZERO punitive fines, despite conceding that they helped U.S. residents – estimated to number 250 — avoid paying income taxes over an eight year period.

The agreement announced on Wednesday specifies that UBS will give up $380 million of profit from eight years of cross-border business — of which $200 million will be paid to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and $180 million to the Department of Justice — and $400 million for back taxes, tax penalties and restitution for unpaid taxes and interest .