Keeping score: Sukuk pickup, blank-cheque M&A

Highlights from this week’s Thomson Reuters Investment Banking Scorecard:

“Islamic Financing Reaches $10.9 billion

“Malaysia state oil company Petronas lifted the volume of Islamic financing for year-to-date 2009 with a $1.5 billion sukuk offering that was part of a $4.5 billion global financing package via CIMB Securities, Citi and Morgan Stanley. Year-to-date, Islamic financing volume has reached $10.9 billion, a 30% decline from last year at this time when new offerings totaled $15.7 billion.

“Issuers from Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have accounted for over 80% of this year’s Islamic financing activity, while Energy & Power companies have raised just over 40% of the overall proceeds in the market this year.

“Infineon Offering Marks Biggest EMEA Tech Deal

“A $1.0 billion secondary offering from Germany’s Infineon Technologies marked the biggest high technology equity offering in Europe, Middle East and Africa this year, bringing activity in the sector to $2.4 billion, a 52% increase from last year at this time.  Excluding financials, EMEA follow-on activity totals $78.5 billion for year-to-date 2009, an increase of 72% over 2008.

“Including financials, secondary offerings in EMEA total $118.3 billion, 3% decrease from the same period a year ago.

“US “Blank Check” Acquisitions down 53% from 2008

“This week’s $582 million acquisition of Resolute Natural Resources by Hicks Acquisition Co marks the second biggest acquisition by a blank check company this year, behind Liberty Acquisition Corp’s $794 million offer for Pearl Group Ltd in June.  The volume of acquisitions by US blank check companies totals $2.4 billion from 34 deals for year-to-date 2009, a 53% decline from last year at this time.

Deals du Jour

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd will likely clinch a deal this week to buy some Asian assets from British lender Royal Bank of Scotland Group for about $775 million, a source briefed on the situation told Reuters, marking it the Australian bank’s biggest overseas purchase.

In other M&A related stories reported by other media on Monday:

British-based, US-listed cable operator Virgin Media is considering a secondary listing of its shares in London to attract UK-based investors, according to a report in the Times newspaper. Virgin will make an announcement about its decision at its second-quarter results this month, the report said.

The biggest private equity groups are sitting on $400 billion of debt that needs to be repaid over the next five years, putting the future of some of the largest buyouts in doubt, the Financial Times said, citing data from S&P LCD.

Hostile deals in tech just don’t work

rtr24ri7Broadcom extended its tender offer for Emulex shares yet again this morning, after less than 3 percent of shareholders turned in their shares to avail of the hostile, $764 million buyout offer. If anyone’s wondering which way this deal is headed, maybe a look at the fate of unwelcome tech bids in recent memory will provide a clue. In no particular order: Microsoft-Yahoo: Microsoft kicked off 2008 with one of the tech industry’s biggest buyout offers — its unsolicited $44.6 billion bid for Yahoo. It even raised it to $47.5 billion before pulling away because Yahoo just didn’t want to sell. Electronic Arts-Take Two: EA offered about $2 billion to buy its rival, Grand Theft Auto videogame publisher Take Two and made a tender offer that it extended a few times before dropping the bid. Cadence-Mentor: Cadence offered $1.5 billion, unsolicited, to buy Mentor Graphics, and then withdrew its bid citing difficulty in financing. Vishay-IRF: Vishay Intertechnology withdrew its $1.7 billion bid for International Rectifier in October, saying the pursuit was futile given IRF’s refusal to engage in talks. Samsung Electronics-SanDisk: The Korean electronics giant offered $5.9 billion to buy SanDisk, but the flash memory maker wanted much more. Samsung eventually dropped its pursuit, citing the economy. Microchip and ON Semiconductor-Atmel: Chipmakers Microchip and ON Semi made a joint $2.3 billion bid for Atmel, which it rejected. ON Semi had trouble securing financing to fund its part of the deal. Eventually, the two companies dropped their bid. United Technologies-Diebold: United Techologies offered $2.6 billion for Diebold and kept its unsolicited offer on the table for eight months before giving up.

I might have missed a couple more, but you get the idea. Hostile deals don’t seem to work in tech, despite all that people said when Oracle succeeded in buying BEA two years ago. Does the adage about assets, i.e. engineers, walking out the door in hostile situations still apply? Or are there other reasons, such as cultural fit, that cause a lot of resistance among target companies in techland?

(Photo: Reuters)

An offer Data Domain can’t refuse

rtr1wratWho knew EMC was a gatecrasher? Two weeks after NetApp announced plans to acquire Data Domain for $1.5 billion, the storage giant barged in with a higher offer and spoiled NetApp’s party.

EMC has always coveted Data Domain, which makes technology that removes redundant data as it is backed up, saving companies costly storage space. EMC CEO Joe Tucci said as much yesterday, complaining that Data Domain didn’t even give EMC a chance to bid for the assets before tying up with NetApp.

Hence, the aggressive move, supported by the $30 a share, all-cash offer that analysts say Data Domain would find tough to refuse.

Last week in columns

A visitor walks inside Attalos arcade at archaeological site of Roman agora in Athens

There’s been plenty of deal-related argument from the fast-expanding stable of Reuters columnists over the last week.

Anglo-Spanish dealmaking has a chequered recent history — look no further than Ferrovial’s (FER.MC) disastrous takeover of airports operator BAA. But this shouldn’t put British Airways (BAY.L) and Iberia (IBLA.MC) off fast tracking their planned tie-up to help stem losses, says Alexander Smith.

Tech columnist Eric Auchard says while Larry Ellison, Oracle Corp’s chief executive, “is not saying so directly yet … the unmistakable conclusion to draw is that he is ready to embark on a new wave of mergers to consolidate the business computer market, once the Sun deal closes.”

Dell hunts for a banker

rtr21rzjDell is looking to hire an M&A chief, The Wall Street Journal reports, adding that the computer maker has been interviewing “investment banking and technology industry veterans” for the newly created executive position, and could announce a hire within the next month.

Two bankers have told me in the past few weeks this is the case. One Silicon Valley banker said Dell has been trying to fill the position for quite a while, but no M&A banker worth his or her salt wants to join the company, which is notorious for lagging behind on acquisitions, even as rivals like Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and IBM go forth and acquire every few months.

“Joining Dell is basically as good as saying goodbye to your M&A career,” said a banker who has received feelers from the Round Rock, Texas-based company.

from MediaFile:

Tech M&A: Going down, down, down

Investment bank Jefferies recently released a report on technology M&A in the first quarter of 2009. As one can imagine, there are few surprises. We may as well give you the highlights here, which point to some signs of recovery compared to the end of last year, but clearly there's still a long way to go:

    The number of tech deals in North America fell 4 percent to 373 in the first quarter from the fourth quarter of 2008. It's the lowest level of activity in five years, but at least the drop is a manageable 4 percent -- in the December quarter, the number of deals dropped 23 percent from the third quarter of 2008. The aggregate value of North American M&A transactions was $4.3 billion in the first quarter, also a 4 percent drop from the prior quarter and an 85 percent plunge from the first quarter of 2008. Not a single tech IPO priced in the U.S. market during the quarter. The biggest tech deal announced in the quarter was Autonomy's purchase of Interwoven for $764 million. The first quarter of 2009 has only three transactions greater than $500 million, compared to 10 such deals in the year-ago quarter.

The Jefferies survey also looks at tech M&A in Western Europe, which presents a similarly gloomy picture. Nine of the top 10 Western European deals in the first quarter were cross-border, and four of them involved U.S. buyers. The aggregate deal value fell 80 percent to $1.8 billion compared to the fourth quarter of 2008.

But it's interesting to note that the mix of deals in the software, services and media sub-sector hasn't changed much quarter to quarter. For example, IT services deals have hovered at about 30 percent of total transactions for the past five quarters, while digital media M&A has ranged from 32 percent to 35 percent of total deals in the same period.