Microsoft plans to buy internet telephone network Skype for $8.5 billion, the biggest purchase ever for the world’s largest software company as it seeks to regain ground on growing rivals. The money-losing Skype has 145 million users on average each month and has gained favor among small business users. The deal would also give Microsoft a foothold in the potentially lucrative video-conferencing market. Skype, which is minority owned by eBay, allows people to make calls at no charge but also offers some paid features.
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.
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.
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.
Nasdaq OMX and Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) said they have lined up a commitment to finance their rival bid for NYSE Euronext and have offered to pay a breakup fee if the deal fails to go through. This article from The Wall Street Journal lists the details of how Nasdaq and ICE is plan to sweeten their offer for the exchange even more.
Another multi-billion dollar international healthcare deal could be coming if Johnson & Johnson has its way. Synthes, a Swiss medical device maker, confirmed it is in takeover talks with J&J after reports the U.S. health giant is keen to buy it for about $20 billion.
Glencore is looking to raise up to $12.1 billion for its initial public offering in a duel listing that will boost firepower for deals at the height of the resource boom. The long-awaited details of the offer, set to be the largest ever in London, were outlined in an intention-to-float that confirmed an earlier Reuters story. However, the company did not name a new non-executive chairman, a requirement for its listing.
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The planned $18 billion deal between BP and Rosneft was left even more uncertain after its chief backer Igor Sechin stepped down as Rosneft’s chairman. Sechin, who is also Russia’s deputy prime minster quit after President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the removal of ministers from the board of state companies. BP’s tie-up with Rosneft is already blocked by a court injunction secured by the company’s Russian partners in its TNK-BP venture.