Unstructured Finance

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.

Can you compare the royal wedding with Warren Buffett’s annual meeting? The Wall Street Journal gives it try.

Deals wrap: Facebook investors look for exits

A group of Facebook shareholders is seeking to offload $1 billion worth of shares on the secondary market, a sale that would value the company at more than $70 billion, according to sources. It would represent one of the largest transactions of Facebook shares to date and points to a growing wariness among early-stage investors and employees who fear the social networking service’s growth cannot keep pace with its market valuation.

The sellers have lowered their price after previously trying to offload shares at a price that valued the company at $90 billion, but buyers balked.

Power company Exelon Corp is set to buy rival Constellation Energy Group for $7.9 billion, which will add 1.2 million customers to its existing 5.4 million. The Exelon-Constellation deal is the latest in a series of acquisition in a fragmented U.S. utility industry that faces new costs to upgrade power grids and meet environmental controls.

Deals wrap: J&J’s $21.6 billion orthopedic buy

A general view shows Swiss medical devices maker Synthes' headquarters in Oberdorf, April 25, 2011. Reuters/Christian Hartmann

Johnson & Johnson is to buy Swiss medical devices maker Synthes for $21.6 billion in its largest ever buy, giving J&J a leading position in equipment to treat trauma. Synthes, which posted sales of $3.7 billion in 2010, makes nails, screws and plates to fix broken bones, as well as artificial spine discs. “It is surprising the deal has been struck between cash and shares. The market consensus, and our view, was it would be all cash, so the quality of the take-out is slightly lower than we anticipated,” said Morgan Stanley analyst Michael Jungling.

Phone company CenturyLink is to buy Savvis for about $2.5 billion in cash and stock to beef up its data center business as it looks to meet the growing demand for cloud-based services. The deal comes at a time when regional phone companies like CenturyLink, which acquired rival Qwest for $10.6 billion last year, are looking at ways to boost their business as consumers continue to disconnect their home phones in favor of Internet services and cellphones.

Look at the whites of his eyes, and of his hair

Maurice Chevalier once observed that “old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.” This may be apt for an entertainer, but does it have any relevance for fund management? Do grey hairs actually improve performance?

A couple of years ago I worked on some analysis of the board structures of investment trusts (closed-ended funds in the UK) and was surprised to find that the range of ages across some 1,630 directorships varied from 27 to 95. (Just 6 percent of these were held by women – but that’s for another day.)

While it is more than a little tricky to monitor whether there is a correlation between a fund manager’s age and performance, what we can do is measure the fund returns compared to the length of time a manager has been in place. In this way we can at least begin to see whether there is a relationship between tenure and performance.

Deals wrap: Lactalis Parmalat bid leaving sour taste in Italy

French dairy giant Lactalis launched a $4.9 billion offer to take over Italy’s Parmalat, prompting intervention by Italy and France to defuse a row over control of the Italian company. The bid comes just hours ahead of a meeting between Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and French president Nicolas Sarkozy where the Italian government has expressed worries about French moves on Italian companies. Europe’s biggest dairy group bought 29 percent of Parmalat in March which sparked alarm in Rome.

China’s Minmetals Resources said it has dropped out of the battle for copper miner Equinox Minerals, saying Barrick Gold’s $7.7 billion bid was too rich to justify a counter-offer. “Competing with Barrick at these prices would, in our view, be value destructive for (our) shareholders,” Andrew Michelmore, Minmetals’ chief executive, said in a statement.

The Wall Street Journal paints a picture of Nasdaq’s hardships thus far in a bid for NYSE Euronext. The exchange has  sweeten their offer with more money but was still turned down and now hope to win over NYSE shareholders. Ronald Barusch sees a four-step program to Nasdaq’s victory.

Deals wrap: Barrick strikes deal for Equinox

Barrick Gold said it will acquire Australia’s Equinox Minerals for more than C$7 billion ($7.36 billion), topping an offer by China’s Minmetals Resources. Barrick said it has committed cash and financing in place for the transaction.

NYSE Euronext sees higher savings of almost 400 million euros ($584 million) in its $9.8 billion deal with Deutsche Boerse, up by about a third from its initial estimates, according to a Big Board spokesman. The new savings estimate, along with 100 million euros in benefits coming from cross-selling and distribution opportunities, would bring the total savings and benefits from the deal to about $725 million.

All eyes will be on Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder’s meeting next weekend, as he will undoubtedly face questions regarding the resignation of his presumed successor David Sokol. This piece in the New York Times examines Buffett’s hands-off management style, which may come under scrutiny after Sokol’s resignation following news of his dealings in Lubrizol prior to Berkshire’s acquisition of the chemicals company.

Deals wrap: Fiat speeds toward control of Chrysler

A new model of the Fiat 500 is pictured on display at the launch of Chrysler's flagship showroom in Los Angeles November 16, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni Fiat will pump another $1.3 billion into Chrysler this quarter as it moves closer to its target of owning a controlling stake in the U.S. automaker. The deal will take Fiat’s holding in the company to 46 percent, just 5 percent shy of the 51 percent it needs to assume full control.

Read the politically charged, behind-the-scenes story of how the Singapore Exchange failed in its bid for a full takeover of Australian stock exchange operator ASX.

The prosecution amped up the tone of its attacks on Raj Rajaratnam in closing arguments at the insider trading trial of the hedge fund manager on Wednesday, saying the Galleon Group founder wanted to “conquer the stock market at the expense of the law.” The jury is expected to begin deliberations once the defense wraps up its closing arguments either Thursday or next Monday.

Deals wrap: AES powers up in U.S. midwest

An electric tower is shown in this file photo. REUTERS/Francesco SpotornoMore consolidation is on the way in the power industry as global power provider AES is buying smaller Ohio-based rival DPL for $3.5 billion. The acquisition will help the company beef up its regulated power business that tends to provide steady returns even during tough market conditions.

Just days after posting a sharp drop in first-quarter profit, Bank of America said it plans to spin off its last large private equity unit, BAML Capital Partners, which has more than $5 billion in assets. It’s the latest in a series of moves the bank has undertaken to comply with new U.S. regulations that limit how much of their own capital banks are allowed to invest.

U.S. based hard-drive manufacturer Seagate Technology is buying Samsung’s loss-making disk drive unit for $1.4 billion in an attempt to take on rival Western Digital, which bought Hitachi’s global hard-drive business last month.

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